The Magic of Caulking
Caulking. I tried my hand at it recently, and became totally addicted. Its so fun! It’s not nearly as daunting as it sounds. I know, I know: Caulking?! (And yes, my bachelor friends came up with every caulking pun out there. Sigh.)
The trim in our newly acquired home is all cedar. There was no stain on it, and it had just one, 25-year old coat of finish on it. And that coat was pretty flimsy. The wood felt rough to the touch, and nail holes filled with wood filler were off-color. It wasn’t our favorite, that’s for sure, and when we bought the house, we classified it as “just cosmetic.” But only a month after we moved in, we realized there is no such thing as “just” cosmetic. The trim tormented us. Maybe it was the combination of the trim with the lime green dining room, the sky blue TV* room, and the Skittles yellow fireplace room. Yep.
*A side note: We can’t keep our rooms straight. We have a room with a TV, and a room with a fireplace. Technically I think the fireplace room is the living room and the TV room is the family room, but my husband and I have to think too much to use those terms, so we just call them the TV room and the fireplace room. Much simpler.
Anyway, we bit the bullet and had the pros come. (Such a good decision.) I can see painting just the trim myself, but there were two problems. First, there’s too much trim for just me to handle on work nights after dinner and weekends. Second, the trim is not already finished, so we have to sand, prime, and paint. Just not a tackle-able amount of work. Oh, and third, and perhaps most dauntingly, all the bits and pieces of the windows had to be sanded, primed, and painted, too. Bless the folks who did the painting.
A big part of painting the trim white is caulking. When you paint wood trim, all of a sudden every joint that was disguised by the lack of color before now bares its teeth as a gaping, black line. It’s intolerable! So the pros did the caulking too, and I thought to myself, “Yep, we need the pros. I don’t know how to caulk!”
The painters did the whole first floor except the mud area, where our laundry room is. The laundry room will get its own post, but it badly needed a redo. And that’s where me and my caulking gun come into the picture. I started by painting the trim white. No sooner had I peeled that frog tape off and there were those big, ugly black lines!! AGH! I knew I had to learn to caulk because my OCD-self would never be able to stand it. It just looks so messy and unfinished. Off to Home Depot. I bought myself a caulking gun and some caulk, and I marched home and tried to get to work.
Tip Number 1: Caulking tubes have a seal that needs to be punctured before any caulk will come out of that little nozzle. If you don’t buy a caulking gun, make sure you have a long, skinny something to puncture that seal (after, of course, you cut the very tip of the nozzle off with a utility knife). And, if you do buy a caulking gun, there’s a small piece of metal attached to the bottom for this purpose. My husband and I found that a day too late. I used an unfolded bobby pin. It punctured the seal just a tiny bit, and then he muscled the caulk into submission – yep, got caulk all over the floor in a pretty white s, but hey, at least we got it working!
Holding the gun at an angle to the trim, and making sure I had the cut in the nozzle nicely aligned with the trim, I pressed the handle and slowly drew the gun along the top of the trim. A magical, beautiful white line appeared. A gentle swipe of my finger… and VOILA! It was so easy and it makes all the difference in the world! I want to run around caulking up anything I can get my hands on! Lucky for me, we have a whole upstairs full of not-painted trim that will someday need to be caulked and painted.
Tip Number 2: Check the color caulk before you buy! I didn’t realize there were options, so I accidentally bought caulk that goes on white and dries, of all things, clear. So those nasty holes materialized once the caulking was dry! The solution was pretty simple though – buy caulk that dries white and put it on over! Done, and done!