Secrets of caulking and painting trim

Before we bought this house I probably couldn’t even tell you what to use caulking for, besides the tub! But after installing hundreds and hundreds of feet in new baseboards in trimwork I think I have become somewhat of a pro. Not only because I know how to do it, but because I have mastered a system that allows me to completely caulk and paint an entire room in under an hour. So of course I want to tell you all about it~

Remember how we were (or I should still say “are”) renovating our laundry room? I promise that it will be a pretty good reveal in the next few weeks… we are WAYYY behind schedule for several reasons, one being our vacation, the other being that our cupboard took several weeks to get here and then once we opened it up to assemble it we discovered that it was broken into multiple pieces. So we had to continue the waiting game until just recently.
But besides our cabinetry we are pretty close to finished!

And now back to the caulking tutorial…

The first thing I have learned is that painters tape is your best friend for this job! Not only because it keeps the caulking straight and tidy, but because if you weren’t aware silicone is a big fan of right angles. When you just drag your finger through it over time you see it start to pill and wear away, and using tape to make a clean line will prevent that!

The next step is to run a small line of caulking along the top of the baseboard.

The wet rag is another trick of the trade, when you go to run your finger through the caulking you will get a MUCH smoother finish if you have wet fingers. So I keep an old rag on hand.

Yeah, yeah, I can already hear the teenaged boys laughing at this one! There are multiple tools on the market for applying caulking, but I really haven’t found anything better (or cheaper) than my finger!

This is where my system really starts to save some time. After you have filled all the nail holes and done the top of all the baseboards I tape off the floor. This lets the caulking start to set, but not completely dry before we paint.

Because the caulking is not solid yet, I ALWAYS use a high quality brush with nice soft bristles. Harder bristles will ruin that nice finish we have. I like to use Mirage White in semi-gloss for all our trim work, but you can use any color.

Now I let the paint start to get tacky, but not completely dry. If we waited until the paint and caulking were dry the tape would not come off well and the finish would not look clean (trust me, I’ve done it!).

And last comes my favorite part, the big reveal! Because we didn’t wait to let the caulking dry and then re-tape everything it literally took only 55 minutes from start to finish to do the WHOLE ROOM!

Some times with older dry wall you may get some of the wall paint/plaster peeling away with the tape, but I just go back with a touch up brush and the wall color to fix those little patches. With the exception of this door frame (which sees a lot of moisture as it is the door to the garage) all the other tape peeled off perfectly with no peeling!

Hope that was helpful to some of you, and will maybe inspire you to update your baseboards or trim!
Secrets of caulking and painting trim

34 thoughts on “Secrets of caulking and painting trim

  1. i love you for this tutorial! i think you wrote it just for me! as i am getting ready to caulk and fill holes in my bathroom crown moulding! and the faster the better! would this work just the same for crown? thanks for your help!

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  2. Yay! I am so glad it helped someone! I hate learning through mistakes so hopefully you have smooth sailing now. It should work perfectly for crown moulding too, as well as beadboard and board and batten.

    Can't wait to see your new crown Julie!

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  3. I am going to be re-doing all the trim in my house in the next couple of months so this is great timing. Thanks! Can you please tell me where you picked up your baseboard moulding? Did you use MDF? I am having a hard time finding a nice moulding here in e-town and since I need so much of it I want to make sure it is something that I will be happy with for a long time.

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  4. Care, check out Timbertown! Our baseboards are 4.5 inche MDF I believe, but they are like half the price at Timbertown compared to Home Depot or Rona!

    Pine Tree, I usually just fill with caulking, but for seams where two boards meet I use filler and then sand for an even transition. Since caulking doesn't take a sanding well I find this much easier!

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  5. Ooooo! Thanks Holly! I am so going to go check Timbertown this week. I am so excited. LOL. I just wonder how well MDF would stand up to my two kids, especially my 5 year old son who loves to ram his cars against the wall. I know you won't have that problem with Wren. :)

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  6. Love this tip! I have new wainscotting and door framing in my dining room that needs to be caulked and painted and I will definitely try it your way! First thing I learned here: paint the walls first. (which I thought I should do last!)

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  7. This made me laugh out loud. My mom taught me “fingers are the best tools” at a very young age. I've never used anything except my finger and a wet rag for caulking. Love the paint tape idea though!

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  8. This blog helped me sooooo much tonight! Thank you! My husband is more of the “suit and tie” type so I thought I'd give mounting my base trim a whirl myself with a little research. It turned out fantastic. Gave myself a little pat on the back! Thanks again!

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  9. What brand and type of caulk do you use, mostly to full the nail holes. I think i am using the wrong stuff because it never ends up being smooth and flush, I always see the nail hole after.

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