“Dances with Caulk”

Inside corner of window frame, before caulk

I’ve always been a plaster girl – spackle, joint compound, or my recent discovery, 20-minute mud – you name it, I can use it to good effect. Caulk? Not so much. It’s plastic-y, you have to use that squeeze gun thingy, and it gets all over the place.

This weekend, however, I found myself enthralled by caulk. Partly it’s because never before have I had so many gaps to fill. Nothing at the Schoolhouse is straight: not the seam between the new baseboards and the old, warped floor, not even the seam between the new baseboards and the new floor. And partly it’s because I finally figured out a method and rhythm that works for me.

Same corner of window frame, caulked

The method is simple: when you cut open the tube, don’t cut too much – a narrow opening, about an eighth of an inch, is enough and makes the caulk much easier to control than if you can squeeze out a chunky quarter-inch bead. And make sure and cut it at a steep slant. Ikea kitchen shears work great for this step. Wear gloves (I prefer vinyl to latex) and keep a shop towel with you to wipe off excess (much stronger than paper towels).

The rhythm? FAST. Instead of slow and careful, I swooped – DOWN the side of a window, ACROSS the top of a door, ALONG a baseboard. I used a tube about every ten minutes, and in an hour I’d done two rooms and a few miscellaneous hallway baseboards and was out of caulk.

Next weekend I’m bringing more.



  1. When I took the builder education class, the ‘secret’ to caulking was a slightly trimmed old credit card (you cut the corner off at the appropriate width. I still use that sometimes, but cloth works too.

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