According to experts, caulking baseboards is necessary if there is ⅛ inch or more space between the floor and the baseboard. This helps protect your house from unwanted damage caused by insects, moisture and dust. Applying caulk to firm and hard surfaces such as stone and hardwood is generally the best way to go.
In this article, we will discuss why and when it's necessary to caulk the space between baseboards and the floor, the pros and cons and detailed steps on how to caulk baseboards. We will also explore different types of caulk and tools you’ll need.
Is Caulking Baseboards Really Necessary?
Generally speaking, caulking baseboards is necessary to protect your home. Many contractors would recommend that you caulk the gap between the floor and the baseboards to prevent damages from outside sources, like water and dust, from getting inside. Overall, it provides a ton of upside without much downside, especially when you're redecorating the inside of your home.
However, that doesn't mean you should completely ignore the downsides of caulking. After all, when done incorrectly, caulking will bring as much harm to your home as it does good.
Another thing that you should remember is that caulking isn't the only option you have. Some contractors would bring up other solutions besides caulking regarding sealing gaps. For example, if the floorboards are porous, applying caulk to them is not a good idea, as it makes it difficult to apply a finish.
Should You Caulk The Bottom Of Baseboards?
It would help if you caulked the bottom baseboard for protection and aesthetic purposes. Especially if the baseboard's installation is not that tightly sealed towards the floor; thus, an awkward gap is visible.
However, there are instances where caulking is not that necessary since there is enough protection from baseboard materials already. Or, maybe a flooring will be added to fill that gap at the bottom of the baseboard.
Advantages Of Caulking Between Floor And Baseboard
This section will talk about the many advantages of why caulking is generally good for most homes. Additionally, we will get into more detail about the side effects of not caulking your floor and baseboards.
Caulking Baseboards Protects From Water Damage
As stated earlier, caulking prevents moisture from seeping into the flooring. So, if there is a leak or heavy rain from outside, water cannot get in between the floor and the baseboard because the caulk acts as some sort of sealant.
If you don't apply any caulk in the gaps between the floor and the baseboard, the floorboards would warp and bubble. In the case of hardwood, water seeping underneath can cause it to rot and form mold. For laminated floors made of vinyl, bubbles are likely to form on the surface.
Caulking Baseboards Keeps Out Insects And Debris
Pest infestation is a nightmare for most homeowners. And one way to prevent all those ants, spiders, stinkbugs, and flies, among others, is by sealing up the space between the floor and the baseboard. By doing so, you prevent these pests from taking root inside your home.
Not only that, dust and debris would not collect underneath your flooring as well. An overabundance of these would cause damage to your interior walls over time and create an environment that would cause allergies.
Caulking Baseboards Provides Better Aesthetics
Last but not least is that sealing away all those gaps would make a more pleasing home aesthetically. If there are gaps between the floor and the baseboard, it may give off an unprofessional appearance to a visitor.
Not only that, but you can use the color of the caulk to your advantage as well. By sealing those gaps, you can create a seamless transition between the floorboard and the trims of the baseboard.
Disadvantages Of Caulking Between Floor And Baseboard
Of course, if there are advantages, there are also disadvantages. It's important to note that these disadvantages focus more on timing and where you want to caulk.
Baseboard Caulk Ruins Carpeting On The Floor
Applying caulk is not a good idea if you add carpeting to the floor. That's because it would ruin the carpeting by staining it and create an absolute mess.
Instead, you would need precise measurement. You need to calculate the thickness of the carpet, along with the installation of the flooring and the baseboards, so you'll prevent gaps from forming.
Baseboard Caulking When There is No Gap
This is a given, but there's no point in caulking when there's no gap in the first place. Not only does it make caulking redundant, but it wastes money.
Additionally, most contractors would decide whether caulking is necessary based on how wide the gap is. If it's less than a quarter of an inch, then there's no need to caulk. Doing so may ruin the overall aesthetic of your home.
Change In Color
Speaking of aesthetics, another reason contractors would not want to apply caulk is that its color would change over the years. While some brands may hold up better than others, it's a given that caulks develop this sort of yellowish stain. Direct sunlight would also cause this stain to appear as well.
That's why some contractors would prefer not to apply caulk when possible. But the best way to get around this issue is simply painting over the caulk. But don't forget to prime it first, or the paint will not stick.
Newly Built Home
Most homeowners know that a newly built house would contract and expand over a few years. This is why cracks form on the walls of a new house after around a year or so.
The constant shifts inside your home, along with the changing temperature, can cause caulk to shrink and expand over time. You may have seen the results of this in the form of caulk pulling away from where they were, causing gaps to form.
Reapplying the caulk every year or so is a must. Using a caulk with a low shrinkage rate would help resolve this issue.
What is the Best Caulk for Baseboards?
Different types of caulk work best in different situations. In this section, we will help you find out which is the best caulk for your baseboard in your specific scenario.
Generally, this is what many would consider an all-purpose caulk. Because of its latex properties, this caulk can easily stretch and expand, making it a good solution for fairly wide gaps.
And because it's a water-based caulk, it doesn't take long to dry, needing only around an hour. Painting over it poses no issue as well.
Because of this, latex caulk is generally inexpensive and easy to apply on most surfaces. The downside, however, is that it's not very durable. This caulk easily wears down in the presence of outdoor weather, such as harsh sunlight and heavy rainfall.
Silicone Acrylic Latex Caulk
This is what many would refer to as an industrial-grade caulk. This caulk can withstand heavy stress and traffic, making it incredibly resistant to wear and tear.
On top of that, this type of caulk is fire-resistant as well. As such, this works best in your kitchen, where there are plenty of heat sources.
Due to the nature of this caulk, they are quite expensive. Also, if you're planning to use this product, be aware that they can be quite difficult to clean and keep well-maintained.
The urethane compounds found inside this caulk make it water-resistant and flexible. Not only that, it helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew as well.
Most contractors would use this sort of caulk in bathrooms. The downside, though, is that it easily stains yellow under direct sunlight. And if you plan on painting over it, you must sand and give it a prime coating first.
How To Caulk Between Baseboards And Floor [Steps Explained]
Caulk any gap that is up to ⅛ inch high between the baseboard and floor. It allows for expansion, which happens over time. The steps to caulk include:
- Identify the correct caulk
- Tape your floor
- Apply the caulk
- Smoothen the caulk
- Take off the tape
- Paint the baseboards
In the following example, we shall walk you through each of these steps in detail and show you how to caulk between the baseboard and a tile floor. The tools you need are:
- Caulking tool
- Caulk gun
- Latex caulk
- Painter’s tape
- Trim paint
1. Identify The Correct Caulk
To effectively fill cracks and seal corners, choose a type of caulk that works for the job.
Your caulk should be flexible, waterproof, strong and one that forms a stable bond between the board and the tile. Also, choose one that you can paint.
Latex would be the caulk for this job. Silicone would not be a good choice because paint will not adhere well to it because it will flake off.
Estimate the number of caulk tubes you will need. You may need between 1 and 3 tubes for a single room.
2. Tape Your Floor
Tape your floor using the painter’s tape. The edge of the tape should line up to the bottom edge of the baseboard.
This step may appear too tedious, but it is important that you do so. It will give you a professional finish and will prevent the caulk from going onto the tile floor.
3. Apply The Caulk
Cut the tip off the tube at an angle, and load the caulk into your caulk gun. Slowly and steadily apply the caulk in the gap between the baseboard and tile.
After you finish, check if there are any gaps on top of the baseboard and the wall as well. Fill up these spaces.
The video below demonstrates how to apply caulk:
4. Smoothen The Caulk
The next step is to use your caulking tool to smooth out the caulk to remove the imperfections. This prepares it for painting. It also does not collect dirt easily.
Try to avoid using your fingers to smooth the caulk, even if you have the skills. Opt to use the caulking tool like the one shown below for a perfect finish.
5. Off The Tape
Remove the tape when the caulk is still wet, otherwise, it could get trapped and create a mess. It might take you a lot of time trying to get rid of the mess.
Wipe off any excess caulk using a damp rag. Removing it when wet will give you a smooth finish.
6. Paint The Baseboards
When your caulk dries, the next step is to paint it. Unpainted caulk will look dull and become discolored later. This is because, with time, it attracts dirt and dust.
Tape the floor again to avoid paint splattering on the floor. Also, add a drop cloth to catch the paint drops.
The best color to paint on the caulk is the same one as that on your baseboard.
To summarize, the gap between the baseboard and your floor should not be larger than 1/4 inch high. You can comfortably caulk your baseboards and fill this gap. Recognizing when and where to apply caulk goes a long way in creating a well-protected and aesthetically pleasing home.
Before you leave, check out these essential caulking resources. They delve into caulk-related topics that broaden your knowledge about caulking in your home.