Spotting gaps between your floor and the baseboards is infuriating.
Not only does it look plain odd, but it can also make your heating or cooling systems ineffective. Then there’s the issue of dirt and dust getting trapped in the gap. Overall, it’s just a nightmare. Admittedly, it’s not a serious, structural problem but it’s a pain in the neck. Luckily, there’s a quick fix. Caulking.
PS. If you have hardwood floors, check out our recent article: Best Dust Mops for Hardwood Floors [Microfiber] 2021 Reviews.
What is Caulking?
Caulking is the act of applying caulk, duh! And what is caulk? I hear you ask? Well, caulk is a sealant. It was originally used on ships to fill the gaps between the decking. In the earliest days of caulking, a fibrous material like cotton or hemp was driven between the boards using a caulking mallet. Once the caulk was in place, it was covered with pitch, a sticky form of pine resin. This effectively waterproofed the caulking. Nowadays, caulking is a much simpler affair. It is usually made from silicone or polyurethane and sold in cartridges that look a bit like a toothpaste tube but bigger. These tubes have a nozzle at one end and a moveable plunger at the other.
When fitted into a caulking gun, the plunger can be depressed and caulk comes out of the nozzle. Caulk has many uses throughout the home. It can be used to seal bathroom and kitchen appliances, windows, cracks, and those pesky gaps between the baseboards and the floor.
Filling Gaps Between Baseboards and Wood Floors.
Getting rid of those annoying gaps is actually a fairly simple process. The hardest part is having to kneel down to reach the gap! We will walk you through it step by step so you don’t have to stress.
Find the Right Caulk
There is a caulk for every job so choosing the right one can be a bit difficult.
What you need to remember is that a good caulking job shouldn’t be noticeable. Therefore, the caulk you choose should match the surface it’s being applied to. Waterproof caulk is great for the bathroom or kitchen, but pretty unnecessary in the living areas.
It usually comes in white or grey to match the bathroom fittings so it would stand out in your living room. This kind of caulk is called silicon caulk because that’s what it’s made from. The silicone prevents water from entering the seal. The best caulk for sealing the gap between your baseboards and your floors is decorators caulk. Decorators caulk is usually latex or acrylic latex caulk. It is perfect for sealing baseboard gaps because it expands slightly as it dries to make a tight seal.
It is also available in a wide range of colors and finishes to match most floorings. As long as you apply the caulk smoothly, you should be able to create that invisible finish that is so highly prized in caulking!
Prep The Surface
Before you think of putting caulk on a surface you need to make sure it is clean, finished, and free of contaminants. Caulking should be the last bit of work you do, after the painting, after glossing.
You can paint over some caulks but it’s a bit of a hassle. The whole idea behind choosing caulk that matches your flooring is that you don’t have to paint it! So, once your floors and baseboards are sanded, stained, or painted, you need to vacuum and mop the area. You’re trying to get rid of any dust or dirt that could affect the seal. If the caulk adheres to a dusty surface, it will be more likely to peel away.
This is because it actually stuck to the dust rather than the intended surface. Once you’ve vacuumed, take a damp cloth to the area. Make sure to get into the very gap you’re trying to fill. While you’re waiting for the surface to dry, you might want to take the time to shoo any pets or children out of the room you’re working in.
Caulk is usually non-toxic but you don’t want to get it on fur or faces. It’s not fun to remove! The final preparation step is taping up the edges. You’re taping around the gap to prevent stains from spillages.
It’s the same principle as when you tape the edges while painting.
Applying the Caulk
You’ll need to put the caulking cartridge into the caulking gun before you cut the nozzle. If you cut the nozzle open first, you may end up with a spillage. Caulking guns are fairly straightforward to use. You need to draw back the plunger and place the cartridge in the gap. Once fitted, you can cut the nozzle to the size you need and pierce the seal. If you cut the nozzle too far up, you’ll get big thick lines of caulking. Before you go near the gaps, you need to give the trigger a few pumps. This should get the caulk flowing.
The first pump or so will likely make the caulk explode out of the nozzle. After that initial expulsion, it should come out smoothly. When you start caulking, you need to put one hand near the nozzle to steady the gun and the other on the trigger. You’ll need to pump the trigger to keep the caulk flowing. It will likely come out in small beads along the gap.
This is fine. Try to keep the beads uniform in size and shape. Move along the gap slowly making sure you’re not creating any gaps of your own.
It’s best to go bit by bit rather than try to do a whole room in one go. You’ll need to smooth the caulk while it’s wet, you see.
Smoothing the Caulk
To get the best results you’ll need to smooth out the beads of caulk. You can do this with a wet rag, gloved finger, or an ice cube. You want to press hard enough to flatten the beads but not so hard that the caulk splurges over the rest of the floor or baseboards. You need to do this while the caulk is still fairly wet. If you’ve bought a quick-drying caulk you’ll need to work fast and do smaller sections.
You’ll need to pull the tape off the edges as soon as you’ve smoothed the caulk. Don’t let the caulk dry on the tape. If you try to peel away tape that the caulk has stuck to you’ll end up taking the caulk off as well or ripping the tape. Once you’ve removed the tape you’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times.
Usually, caulk has a touch dry time and a fully dry time which could be up to 24 hours. If you do need to paint the caulk, you’ll need to check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Some can be painted as little as ten minutes after application. Others need to dry for a day or two.
Can You Caulk Around Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is great in many ways. It’s a cheaper option and it comes in a wide range of styles and colors. However, it can be a bit of a pain to install. You need to cut around fixtures and fittings but this might mean you end up with gaps as the flooring settles and expands. These gaps and uneven edges can look unprofessional and cause drafts to leak under door frames. Just like gaps between the baseboard and floors, you can use caulk on the edges and gaps of laminate flooring.
Ideally, there shouldn’t be too many gaps as your laminate flooring should click together nicely. However, if you do have gaps to seal, the process is the same as above. Clean and prepare the surface, lay down the tape, and then caulk. The only major difference is in how you finish off. When using caulk to seal the edge of laminate flooring, you may need a putty knife.
This will allow you to scrape the caulk off so that it is level with the floor. You don’t want little ridges of caulk all over the place!Depending on where your gaps are, you might find that painting the caulk is not a viable option.
This being the case, it is very important to choose a caulk that is going to match your flooring. The other thing to remember is that caulking can’t be used to fix large gaps in the ground. It is a sealant, not a putty.
If you try to use caulking for wide gaps it will collapse on itself.
Caulk is a wonderful substance that can help you put the finishing touches on your home. As long as you choose the right caulk for the job, you’ll be able to fill gaps and cover dips to your heart’s content. Remember to look out for caulking that matches your flooring in color, quick-drying caulk if you intend to paint over it, or low odor caulk if you’re going to be working in an enclosed, poorly ventilated space.