Stephanie Staton
March 25, 2014

The devil’s in the details, or so the saying goes. I have to admit that some of the repetitive chores involved in the finishing details of remodeling a house have tried my patience—and my back. One such task has been the moldings. This isn’t my first wood-filling rodeo, but I seriously feel like this one has dragged on longer than any project to date.

Every seam and nail hole in our house requires filling and touchup. Because all the woodwork is painted white, we’re using paintable caulk for a slightly quicker and smoother application, but stainable/paintable wood fillers are available, too.

Caulking goes more quickly when treated like a factory assembly line: One person fills holes and cracks while another touches them up with paint. The more duos you have available to tackle the job, the faster it will go. Unfortunately, we never seem recruit more than two people at a time—and sometimes one person has to work solo. (Sorry, Dad!)

5 Tips to Make Caulking Easier

Working our way around the rooms, we could see the transformation taking place, as the gaps and holes disappeared and the trim created a seamless line. While no amount of daydreaming or wishful thinking got the job done quicker, here are a few tips I learned along the way:

1. Buy the Right Caulk
We needed material for our project that could be stained or painted. Most bath- or kitchen-specific caulking is designed to repel water and will not permit latex paints to adhere to the surface. Buying the proper material based on usage will help ensure that you don’t run into this problem.

2. Get a Rubber-tipped Applicator
When applying caulk to corners, use a rubber-tipped applicator for a smooth, even finish. The rubber will flex and bend around the curves and between the crevices without losing its grip. You’re finger will also work, but I find this tool gives a much smoother appearance with less tendency to dimple.

3. Wear Gloves
Wood fillers and caulking contain chemicals that can irritate skin. Specialty applicators will help reduce contact, as well.

4. Shop Smartly
There are a lot of tools available to help you apply caulk, but you’ll find some are far more useful and of better quality than others—do your homework to find the one best suited to your application. Wood filler might require sanding, so be sure to take this into consideration and read manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding.

5. Don’t Overdo It
Repetitive tasks don’t have to be overly strenuous to cause damage—too much time kneeling, reaching or bending can put a severe strain on muscles and joints, so be sure to take breaks to stretch and rest.

The best advice I have for motivating yourself to accomplish a tedious feat, like caulking, is to tackle it room by room so that you can enjoy a sense of accomplishment with each completion before moving onto the next. Knowing how good the finished product looks can be a major incentive for doing more.

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