If you search for how to install a baseboard, you might come across a step that tells you to put a caulk. But...do you have to? We have researched this for you, and here is what we found!
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.
There is more about this ahead of the article. Points will help you answer some queries you might have with caulking, such as how to do it, at which point (before or after painting), what is best for the baseboard, and such. These are all for you, so keep reading!
Why You Should Caulk The Bottom Of Baseboard
If you think the installer perfectly attached the baseboard, as you can see, it is already aligned like a ruler with a consistent width of the gap between it and the floor.
If the materials that make the board are damage-resistant, you will likely not need the sealant.
However, if it is the opposite, here are some reasons you need to caulk up the bottom of your baseboard.
As we discussed earlier, caulking the gap between the floor or wall and the bottom baseboard is vital for protecting against insects.
That space between the two is an ideal environment for cockroaches, boxelder bugs, ants, and the like. Behind the baseboard is one of their favorite spots to live in.
That gap on the bottom sidings might seem like an invitation for entry. And if those pests are not removed, they can infest or eat the wood.
Do not be surprised if you will see termite damage occurring after some time. This may cause you some money to have them treated by a pest control team.
Drywood termites, or those that infest dry wood components inside a home, cost $200-$2,500 for a treatment.
So if you want to avoid these nuisances, sealing the gap on the bottom baseboard is good prevention, especially if your trim is made of wood.
Another point why you should caulk it is because sometimes, that space, due to the unaligned cutting of the board or uneven floor level, is not pleasing to the eyes.
Once painted, the gap may be too obvious and can be a flaw spot in your wall.
Good thing that there are paintable caulks for the baseboard already. They are adhesive to paint for a concealing effect. You won't even notice there is a caulk there!
Should You Caulk Baseboards Before Or After Painting?
It is more advisable to caulk before painting. That way, you won't have to spend separate time priming, sanding, and painting it separately afterward.
Also, Since you are staining it at the same time as the board, you will achieve more color shade consistency. Just make sure that the caulk is completely dry before painting.
However, you can always put the sealant after painting too. There isn't a problem. You just need to be extra careful, which will cost you more time and effort.
How Soon Can I Paint Over Caulk?
You can start painting as soon as the caulk is dry. However, the specific length of waiting is hard to tell since each type or manufacturer has a different answer.
For instance, some paintable caulk only takes up to 30 minutes until it is paint-ready, while some must be fully cured first, which may take a few days.
On the other hand, acrylic latex and silicone usually take 1-3 hours to dry.
How To Caulk The Bottom Of Baseboards
The first thing you need to do is to prepare the materials and tools that you will use. Below is a list of items that you need for this:
- Bucket of water
- Clean, dry rug
- Painter's tape/masking tape
- Utility knife
- Caulking gun
Once you've gathered the items above, you can now proceed to impose some safety measures, such as opening your windows and turning on your fan for ventilation.
Make sure to do that since caulk fumes can cause mild irritation to the skin and eyes. You can wear gloves or a face mask to avoid inhalation and swallowing the sealant.
There are serious health effects associated with its components.
Steps To Apply Caulk To A Baseboard
Here are the steps for caulking the bottom baseboard:
- Run a painter's or masking tape along either side of the gaps between the bottom baseboard and wall and the floor. This is to prevent excess caulk from spilling where it should not be.
- Using the utility knife, cut the tip of the caulk cartridge at a 45-degree angle. Poke the hole that was created for ease of caulk release.
- Insert the cartridge into the caulk gun. Pull the trigger and practice releasing caulk in a newspaper, slowly moving your hands backward as the sealant comes out.
- Look for your starting point.
- Turn the cartridge's nose (angled at 45 degrees) towards where the hole faces the bottom baseboard's gap.
- Start applying caulk along the gaps at a slow and even pace until you reach the endpoint.
- Gently run a finger along the applied caulk to smoothen the sealant.
- Repeat the process on the other part of the bottom baseboard.
- Carefully pull out the barrier tape while the caulk is still wet.
If you made any mistakes, use the water and rug to remove the caulk you want to eliminate.
Also, ensure to wash your hands after the task or as soon as you are done with the steps that require making contact with the sealant.
Want to learn more about these application steps?
Please read our other post: How To Caulk Baseboards To Floor [Steps Explained]
How Do You Fix Messy Caulking Lines?
You will need to remove the existing messy caulk and do the process all over again. However, get a grout sponge after you smoothen out the sealant using your finger.
Then, soak that in clean water and squeeze off the excess liquid. After that, run the damp sponge along the caulk until it smoothens the surface.
How Do You Smooth Out Dried Caulk?
Gently rub the dried caulk with coarse sandpaper, then extra fine sandpaper. Do this until the joint is leveled with the baseboard, wall, or any surface where it is applied.
What Is The Best Caulk For Baseboards?
The best caulk for baseboards is acrylic latex, pure silicon, or a mixture of the two (usually called latex with silicone). This type of caulk is ideal for sealing porous materials like wood or drywall, so it is the perfect sealant for baseboards.
Other types of caulk may not work because, for example, butyl rubber is for outdoor use and refractory caulk works best for masonry materials and high temperatures.
There are a lot of caulk brands available in the market. So to lessen your searching, we listed some top picks you may use. Check them out below:
DAP 18152 White Alex Plus Acrylic Latex Caulk With Silicon
This all-purpose sealant is acrylic latex plus silicon, tagged as the #1 selling latex caulk in America. Some of its features include:
- Paint-ready within 30 minutes of application
- Strong adhesion
- Does not discolor paint
- Exceeds ASTM C834
- Minimal odor
- Easy to clean
- 40-year warranty
It is also available in different colors such as white, gray, brown, black, almond, etc.
GE Sealants & Adhesives 2709188 Pain Project Max Shield
Another caulk that is a top pick is this Max Shield's premium polymer acrylic latex sealant which stretches up to 600%. Take a look at its other features:
- Strong adhesion
- Superb flexibility
- Tri-shield protection
- Used indoors and outdoors
- Hold-resistant protection
- Minimal odor
Sashco 10016 Big Stretch Caulk 10.5-Ounce
The last on our list is Sashco's Big Stretch caulk. The benefits you can get from this are:
- High elasticity (over 500% maximum stretch)
- Strongly adhesive
- Easy to use
Wondering what the best paint for the baseboard is?
You should caulk the bottom baseboard if you want protection against insects or pests from infesting behind the board.
Another reason you should seal the gap is to hide the awkward space, which may be unpleasant to look at and ruin your wall's aesthetic.