Caulk is a construction product many take for granted when doing indoor home projects. But as professional residential builders know, filling gaps between fixtures is a lifesaver. So should you caulk baseboards?
You should caulk baseboards to protect them from pest infestations, safeguard against potential water damage, and produce a seamless progression between surfaces. Caulking also makes baseboards look professional and your home energy efficient by managing the entry and exit of air and heat.
Caulking baseboards is simple enough for anyone to learn. Keep reading as I discuss why you should do it and how.
What Is Caulk?
Caulk is as a watertight and weatherproof sealant used to protect a residential building’s seams and joints against wear and tear. You will see Builders typically use it as a gap-sealer around installations, windows, and doors.
But caulk is also useful for sealing gaps between walls and baseboards and filling joints in trim and boards for an even, continuous finish. I’ll explain this further by discussing the advantages of caulking.
Why should you Caulk Baseboards?
Caulking baseboards is good for several reasons:
- Caulking eliminates cracks and gaps between baseboards and walls, floors, or ceilings.
- It safeguards high-moisture areas from mold, rot, and mildew.
- It protects the baseboards from the impacts of continuous use.
- Caulking defends the baseboards against potential leaks and water damage.
- It exercises preventive and non-toxic pest control.
- Your rooms will look professional.
- It creates a seamless gradation from one surface to another.
- Caulking instigates repairs.
- Your old baseboards will have a new lease on life and look amazing.
- It gets rid of defects.
- It helps you resolve air and heating inefficiencies by preventing drafts from entering or heat from escaping.
- Caulking guards against the accumulation of dirt and grime in crevices.
- It solves the problem of improperly installed baseboards separating from walls.
- You can improve your home’s energy consumption.
- Caulking can weatherize windows and doors.
- You can use caulking to seal around bathroom sinks, tubs, and showers.
- It helps hide imperfections in walls.
Drawbacks of Caulking
You should be aware that caulking baseboards will not strengthen them structurally in the same way that construction adhesive does. Rather, its purpose is to seal joints and block air and moisture from entering or escaping.
As houses constantly contract and expand, caulked baseboard gaps reopen over time. If you have considerable baseboard gaps in your home, caulking may not be as effective. Instead, replace baseboard or shoe moldings, or both.
How to Pick the Right Caulk for Your Baseboards?
As there are numerous types of caulks, below are some tips for choosing the appropriate one. They will save you from trial and error.
Keep in mind, about the room, you are caulking. Silicone caulks are customarily used in moisture-prone zones like kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms. Latex is for the other rooms in the house.
Here are several types of caulk:
- Shrink and crack-resistant
- Paintable A—acrylic latex only, aka ‘painter’s caulk’ (Each tube costs $2-8.)
- Paintable B—acrylic latex with silicone; it prevents mildew around windows (Each tube costs $4-12.)
- Non-paintable—oil-based silicone
When you Work with trim and baseboards in your home, buy a interior paintable latex caulk. It it’s cheap, expends well and will fill your cracks better. At the same time it dries quickly, exists in various colors, and is easy to clean.
Paintable caulks are typically made of acrylic latex and some silicone. Non-paintable caulks, made of pure silicone in an oil base, create an excellent seal, but paint does not stick to them. Siliconized acrylic latex caulk is pricier than the straight acrylic latex kind, but it adheres better, and the resulting joints last longer. This is why, they are great choice for bathrooms!
If in doubt, read the label on the caulk tube. It will list the projects that can be done with that particular product.
TIP: Try to find a caulk type with the least amount of shrinkage.
What Caulk Color Should I Use?
Choose a shade closest to the one you will use on your baseboard. If your wall and baseboard paints are different, use white caulk. For trims, use white. For wooden trims, use clear or a color closest to the color of the wood.
Experts’ Favorite Caulks
Ask the Builder’s Tim Carter prefers caulk with an acrylic-silicone blend. You can buy it from hardware stores, paint shops, or home centers. His favorite is the Dap Alex Plus acrylic latex caulk plus silicone because it is easy to use and cleanable with water. It’s available on Amazon.com.
It costs more, but it has better ingredients and lasts longer.
Dap has several variants, each with unique features, such as:
- water cleanup capability
- mildew and mold resistance
Among my favorites is Gorilla White silicone sealant caulk because it offers the best combination of features (waterproofness being one of them) at a reasonable price.
How To Clean Baseboards
Ensure baseboards are clean before caulking. Prepping is essential to prevent caulk crumbs and dirt from getting stuck under the caulk, making it less adherent, and compromising the seal.
Before cleaning baseboards, wear knee pads to protect your knees. You can also kneel on a gardening foam pad or create an impromptu cushion with folded towels.
Here’s how to clean baseboards:
- Use a feather duster, dry rag, or vacuum attachment to remove dirt from the baseboards.
- Wipe down the baseboards with a rag or sponge dunked in warm water and dishwashing liquid. If you need a more potent substance, use bleach, liquid caulk remover, or vinegar.
- Let the baseboards dry.
How To Caulk Baseboards
Before you can begin caulking your baseboards, you’ll need to gather your tools first, such as:
- Caulk gun
- Caulking applicator
- Siliconized acrylic latex caulk
- Caulk scraper
- Razor/putty/utility knife
- Wire brush
- Painter’s tape
- Tile-grout sponge
- Drop cloth
- Wet wipes
- WD-40 or rubbing alcohol
Once you have all your tools, you can begin caulking your baseboards. Caulk application is relatively easy to do, and there are various ways to do it. But here’s how it’s normally done:
- Spread a drop cloth on your work area to catch any wayward caulk from dropping on the floor and destroying it.
- Use a wire brush, putty/razor knife, caulk scraper, or a 5-in-1 tool to remove old, loose caulk. If the caulk doesn’t budge, spray it with rubbing alcohol, wait a couple of hours, then scrape again.
- Stick painter’s tape above and below the caulking area to act as a guide for creating a sharp, straight, near-perfect bead. This is also necessary to avoid inadvertently caulking the baseboards or walls.
- Use a utility knife to cut the tube’s nozzle at a 45° angle to a bead size of ⅛” to ¼” from the tip, depending on the gap size (Caulks come in squeezable tubes or cartridges placed in caulk guns). If you have the latter, puncture the inner seal, then insert the cartridge into the gun according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Hold the caulk gun at a 45° angle and practice dispensing the caulk on a piece of paper first. This is to determine the pressure you’re going to apply and help you get used to the gun’s trigger.
- Apply caulk to the baseboards by filling the spaces between the tape lines, a tiny measured bit at a time, while moving the gun or tube gradually but steadily across the gap. Do this only once you’re comfortable with the process.
- Use your finger or the caulking applicator to flatten bumps in the caulk and smoothen corners before it dries for a professional finish.
- Peel off the tape before the caulk dries to prevent it from getting stuck behind it or tearing the fresh bead off with it.
- Use a dry cloth or wet wipes to clean up messes if the caulk is still wet. Otherwise, moisten the dried-up caulk with rubbing alcohol or WD-40 before scraping it off.
- Allow a couple of hours for the caulk to dry before painting it to match the baseboards.
The Most Efficient Way To Caulk
Use your index fingertip to smoothen the caulk (with a light but consistent pressure) over ridges. Each time you smoothen your caulk, dip your finger into soapy water.
If you don’t want your hands soiled, wear latex gloves, but they should fit tightly around your finger. Squeeze out any bumps or air pockets. Or use a wedge tool if your hands are not steady enough.
Should You Caulk Before or After Painting?
You should caulk before painting to achieve a seamless finish and a professional-looking trim. If you caulk after painting, the caulk will be noticeable (not in a good way), discolor over time, and attract dust
Use an efficient brush to create a sharp line between the wall paint and the baseboard paint.