How to Caulk Tile and Trim

I recently posted a photo to my Instagram stories of the cracked and stained caulk line between our kitchen backsplash and countertop. It had been bugging me for awhile but I just didn't feel like taking the time or effort to refresh it. I finally did it the other day and it's as good as new- I'm so glad I did! I posted a poll in my stories about if you'd like to see a post on how to caulk- 95% of you said yes, and I'm going to assume the other 5% of you either rent or make your significant others do these kinds of jobs... ha! If you're in the 95% category, this one's for you! 

 Caulking the trim was the finishing touch to make our IKEA closets look built-in! 

Caulking the trim was the finishing touch to make our IKEA closets look built-in! 

Maybe you just added a new board and batten wall and have noticed the gaps between the wood and the wall. Perhaps you've been staring at the unsightly caulk lines between your tile backsplash and countertop and finally decided to do something about it. Or maybe you've noticed that the caulk around your bathtub has mold growing on it. Adding or refreshing caulk is a great way to make your home look clean, finished, and can help keep your family safe, in the case of a moldy bathtub surround. 

See all those big gaps? Caulk will take care of all of that! 

It's super easy to caulk your trim and tile once you get the hang of it. Although it's a bit of a messy project, it's pretty quick to do and clean up, low in cost, and the results are so worth it. Even if you buy the best brand of caulk, it will need to be refreshed every few years. Homes expand and shrink with the seasons and temperatures and that means your trim and tile is moving as well. Unless your home is brand new and the walls are perfectly square and straight, chances are you'll need caulk for any trim projects as well. 

Ready to get started?! Here's what you'll need: 

 Photo via HomeDepot.com

Photo via HomeDepot.com

1. Caulk (obviously)... take note of your project vs what the caulk is designed for (there is different caulk for trim and tile). I typically use the DAP Brand, which is sold at most big-box stores. You can go with whatever you're comfortable with, but I wouldn't recommend the cheapest brand. Also make sure you're choosing the right color (if any). If you're caulking anything you'll paint, go with white. 

Photo via HomeDepot.com

2. Caulk gun- also sold at any big box store. You don't need to spend a lot- I use this one and it's less than $3 and works just fine. 

3. Old towel/rag: if the caulk dries it might not come out in the wash, so you won't want to use your best towels.

4. Fitted rubber gloves (optional)- at the very least, just take off your rings first! 

This trim desperately needs caulk (and wood filler!)

 Do you see a line between our countertop and backsplash? No? Thank caulk for that!

Do you see a line between our countertop and backsplash? No? Thank caulk for that!

Steps: 

*When caulking trim: if the trim and wall color are the same, I'd recommend caulking first and THEN painting the entire wall. If they're different colors, caulk AFTER the wall is painted, and make sure to wipe off any excess from the wall so it doesn't stain. You can also use painter's tape on the wall to minimize the mess.*

If there's caulk that you need to remove:

1. Use a caulk removal tool, or a metal paint scraper to remove your old caulk.

2. Clean up the area and spray with bleach if mold was present- allow to dry before you start caulking again. Now go to step 3. 

If there was no caulk:

3. Ensure the area you're caulking is clean and dry: wipe down old trim or tile with a clean, damp rag and allow it to dry.

4. Make a small cut in the tip of the tube of caulk (there is a hole in the of the caulking gun to cut the tip). Start small and go bigger if you have to. If you cut the hole too big, you will waste too much caulk and have much more mess to clean up. Test your caulk lines on a piece of cardboard or an old magazine to make sure it's the right size. 

5. Put the caulk tube in the gun and squeeze the handle until a bead of caulk comes out the tip of the tube. Take a few practice runs on a piece of cardboard to get the feel of it! 

6. While gently squeezing the handle, run the tip of the caulk tube slowly along the trim or tile. If you're going on a horizontal axis, it helps to run the caulk tube towards yourself. If you're on a vertical axis, it helps to start below you and go upwards. Try and be as smooth as possible and don't stop.

How to Caulk Trim and Tile

7. Run your finger along the caulk line to smooth it out and make sure that there is caulk in all of the gaps. Add caulk to fill in any gaps you might find. Wipe the excess from your finger on your damp rag. 

8. Gently wipe the damp rag over the caulk line to wipe up any excess caulk. If you push too hard, you'll have to go back and touch up where you completely wiped up the caulk. Double check that your line is smooth, and move on to the next spot! Repeat steps 4-6 until you're entirely done! 

 Freshly caulked and looking clean! 

Freshly caulked and looking clean! 

If you're painting afterwards, allow at least 2 hours to fully dry. Stand back and admire your work! 

 Post-caulking... the trim blends right into the walls! 

Post-caulking... the trim blends right into the walls!