Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Magic in a Tube

When Valentine's Day and a long weekend coincide, Brett and I express our love for each other like all normal couples ... by painting the house. That's what you do too, right?

Safety first!

Aw, Brett's dorky headlamp is making a heart on the ceiling. See? We're romantic!

And we even went on a hot date to Home Depot. Hermie enjoyed it!

While I love tackling big projects and learning new things, a lot of the real transformation of the house comes from simple, repetitive work. So this weekend, we finished off the new wall trim with caulk and paint.

I've talked about caulking before, but I haven't really gone into detail about how to do it. This was new for me, and it's sort of a "minute to learn, lifetime to master" skill. The basic concept is easy, but it takes some practice to get a nice result. I've got the hang of it now, but Brett's still handling the very difficult or visible spots.

 So first of all - why bother? Well, I was amazed at how much of a difference caulk can make. It really makes the trim look finished and built-in. Magic in a tube!

B.C. (before caulk) - there are big gaps between the window trim and the wall.

A.C., no gaps! You might even think our walls were straight.

We're using sandable, paintable white caulk. And we'll be using it forever, because Brett literally bought an entire case. (I give him a hard time, but actually we'll probably need most of it.)

Cut the tip off the tube with a utility knife. You want a clean, 45-degree angle - that's going to make application a lot neater. Slide the tube into the caulk gun. Squeeze the trigger a couple times to tighten the tube into place. 

You'll need a wet rag and a dry rag. We use an old cut up t-shirt and just wet one side.

Hold the angled tip of the tube against the seam you want to caulk. Squeeze the trigger lightly - it really doesn't take much. Drag the tube in a straight line, in one smooth motion if you can. Try not to apply too much extra, because you'll have to spend time wiping it away later.

To clean up the excess and make a smooth, nearly-invisible line, moisten your finger or wrap it in the moist end of your cloth. Then drag it over the caulk line, again in one smooth motion. Do this 3-5 times, or until the line is smooth and even. This is the part where you'll really improve as you go.

You'll use the dry rag to clean the tip if it gets gunky, or to wipe caulk off floors/walls/the piano/anywhere else you didn't actually want it to end up.

The master at work.

The Grasshopper, getting caulk in my hair.
We also filled in all the nail holes.  The caulk takes half an hour to dry, and then we painted it the same white as the walls.

We're going to add more trim later, but for now, we're in a good place!

Before - no trim, and literally all the walls and ceilings were one shade of yellow.

After! Blue and white, with wainscoting.


  1. Ha! One of my husband's LEAST favorite tasks, and he's a Virgo, so it's not even like he'll let anyone else (me) do it. Since we're putting our house on the market next month and things have "settled" since we moved in, caulking is on his To Do list.

  2. I understand! Brett watched me the first time so he could make sure I was up to snuff before any unsupervised caulking :-)

    I hope the sale goes smoothly!