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If you're like most of us, with less-than-perfect walls or less than perfect mitering skills, then you probably have gaps in your baseboard and trim. Fortunately, caulk can solve this problem. It can seal the gaps and create a professional look throughout your house. But which type of caulk should you buy? If you can't decide, then you're in the right place. In this article, we compare the best types of caulk for baseboards and trim.
To create this article, we spent hours researching product data and user reviews for different caulk for baseboards and trim. After reviewing the data, we've compiled a list of our top picks.
Tip: If you need help, then we recommend skipping ahead to our buying guide which lists important things to consider when purchasing a caulk for baseboards and trim.
|ALEX FAST DRY Acrylic Latex Plus Silicone (12 pack)||Best Fast Drying||Type: Acrylic Latex Silicone||Paint Ready: 30 minutes||Fills Gaps: 3/8 inches||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|GE Max Shield Painter's Advanced Polymer Caulk||Best for Large Gaps||Type: Advanced Polymer Acrylic Latex||Paint Ready: 30 minutes||Fills Gaps: 3 inches||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|Sashco Big Stretch||Best Crack Resistance||Type: Elastomeric Sealant||Paint Ready: 48 Hours||Fills Gaps: 2 inches||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|DAP KWICK SEAL Adhesive Caulk||Best Squeeze Tube||Type: Siliconized Acrylic||Paint Ready: 2 hours||Fills Gaps: 3/8 inches||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|DYNAFLEX 230 Elastomeric Sealant (12 pack)||Best Multipurpose Caulk||Type: Elastomeric Sealant||Paint Ready: 2 hours||Fills Gaps: 2 inches||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|OSI Quad Advanced Formula (12 pack)||Best for Pros||Type: Elastomeric Polymer & Synthetic Resin||Paint Ready: 14 days||Fills Gaps: 3/8 inches||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
More Details on Our Top Picks
Best Fast DryingShop Now at Amazon
ALEX FAST DRY caulk is a great choice if you're in a hurry to paint. It's ready for painting in 30 minutes and designed to help you get your projects completed faster. As for performance, the caulk is a siliconized acrylic, which offers easy cleanup while remaining flexible and stretchable due to the added silicone. ALEX FAST DRY caulk can fill gaps up to 3/8 inches wide and it comes with a durability guarantee of 35 years.
Best for Large GapsShop Now at Amazon
GE Max Shield Painter's caulk is an advanced polymer acrylic latex with great flexibility. It's rated for sealing gaps up to 3 inches wide and it stretches up to 600%, which allows for 25% joint movement while remaining resistant to shrinking and cracking. It also features a 60-year durability guarantee, waterproof properties, and resistance to mold and mildew. Overall, this is a fantastic caulk at a great price.
Best Crack ResistanceShop Now at Amazon
The Sascho Big Stretch caulk is an elastomeric sealant with great performance inside and outside. It seals gaps up to 2 inches wide without slump. The Big Stretch caulk also lives up to its name because it can stretch up to 500% without cracking! That's great if you're worried about settling or expansion due to humidity changes. Sascho's Big Stretch caulk is formulated for indoor and outdoor use, so paint-ready time takes a hit and comes in at 48 hours. But for a truly universal caulk, the extra time to paint is hardly a dealbreaker.
Best Squeeze TubeShop Now at Amazon
DAP KWIK SEAL is one of the best squeeze caulk tubes on the market. It's a siliconized acrylic so it's paintable and very flexible. You can use it to fill joints up to 3/8 inches and it provides a waterproof seal when cured. Why would you choose a 5.5-ounce squeeze tube over a 10.1-ounce cartridge? A squeeze tube is great if you have touch-ups or tight spots where a caulk gun won't fit. Overall, we highly recommend the DAP KWIK SEAL for just about any caulking job inside your house.
Best Multipurpose CaulkShop Now at Amazon
DAP DYNAFLEX 230 is a premium elastomeric sealant that works great for all kinds of projects inside and outside. It features "Silicone Tough" performance with superior flexibility and crack resistance. You can use the DYNAFLEX 230 to fill gaps up to 2-inches and it's paint ready in 2-hours. Some common uses for this caulk include baseboards, trim, windows, doors, and siding. Once cured, it offers a 100% waterproof and weatherproof seal.
Best for ProsShop Now at Amazon
If you want superior performance, OSI QUAD is your best choice for most outdoor caulking jobs. It is recommended by the pros. In addition to exterior windows and doors, PVC trim, fiber-cement siding, vinyl siding, and roofs, OSI QUAD is the preferred cold water sealant. It bonds to a wide range of materials, including cedar, painted or stained woods, fiberglass, vinyl, coated aluminum, steel, metal and brick.
It can be applied to dry and wet surfaces. The material is permanently flexible and offers 3x stretch in joints. It is UV resistant and won't crack or yellow. It can be used on joints larger than 1/4", but joints larger than 3/8" require a backer material.
In terms of application, this caulk is sticky (compared to pure silicone caulk). You can't wash it off with water or soap, so go slowly when applying. When it's on there, it's hard to remove and it basically sticks to everything. It's our recommended caulk of choice for outdoor caulking.
Home improvement can be challenging, and caulk is no exception. There are so many types on the market that it's difficult to figure out if you need silicone, acrylic, paintable, fast-drying, or something else. So let's give you a head start. Here are some of the things you should consider when buying baseboard and trim caulk:
The type of caulk you choose for your trim and baseboards is a big deal. Let's review some of the common caulks that you might use for inside trim work:
Acrylic Latex - This is the most common type of caulk for inside your home. It's paint friendly, features easy cleanup with water, and is resistant to ultraviolet light. It works great for baseboards, trim, molding, and as a wood filler substitute. The main disadvantage is its limited flexibility which increases the chances of cracking.
Acrylic Latex with Silicone - If you're worried about cracking, then a siliconized acrylic is a good choice. It flexes with temperature changes, but it's still a paintable silicone with easy cleanup.
Advanced Polymer Acrylic Latex - Another option for interior caulking jobs is an acrylic latex caulk with added polymers for increased flexibility and large gaps. The application is effortless, and it's great at sealing up holes, gaps, and cracks.
Elastomeric Sealant - Another type of high-quality caulk commonly used for interior jobs falls into a group called elastomeric sealants. As with the advanced polymer latex caulk above, this type also uses special formulations of chemicals to create a paintable caulk that's easy to clean and incredibly flexible. It also provides excellent adhesion.
Which do we recommend? Truthfully, it comes down to your needs and your budget. An advanced polymer caulk or elastomeric formulation can give you great performance in larger gaps, but it also costs up to three times the price of siliconized acrylic caulk.
If you're dealing with smaller spaces between your baseboard and walls, then an acrylic latex caulk with silicone might work fine. The silicone helps with the expansion and contraction in the wood molding during the seasonal changes, and it's still budget-friendly.
What about acrylic latex caulk? That's usually the go-to caulk for most contractors. Why? Because it's a low-cost choice! As for performance? It works great in areas with smaller joints, such as 3/8 inches or less. It's also great for caulking material that doesn't expand or contract with humidity fluctuations.
The next thing you should focus on when buying a caulk for using on your baseboards and molding is whether it's paintable. In our list above, every caulk we recommend is paintable.
So what type of caulk isn't paintable? 100% silicone. You can't paint it. Well, you can try. But the paint won't stick. That's why you won't find a pure silicone caulk recommended for baseboards or molding. Usually, 100 percent silicone is reserved for bathrooms and outdoor projects.
Many people make a common mistake by buying a non-flexible caulk, applying it to fill a large gap, and thinking they are good to go. What happens? The summer shifts into winter, and now the beautiful caulk job is full of cracks! If you haven't figured it out yet, it's a pain to fill cracks.
Why does this happen? As the season changes, your house's humidity also changes, which results in the wood fibers in your molding swelling or shrinking.
So the best way to avoid cracks is to buy a flexible caulk. How can you know if the caulk you choose is flexible? It's usually listed on the caulk tube itself. A rule of thumb is that any caulk with silicone, an advanced polymer, or an elastomeric sealant is probably flexible and therefore crack resistant.
The dry time for baseboard and trim caulk affects how long until you can paint it and how long until it cures. Both of these are different, and we'll discuss each below.
After you caulk your baseboards and trim, you'll want to paint. But... you might have to wait. If you paint before the caulk is ready, it won't adhere, and you'll have problems down the road. So make sure to buy a caulk that has a paint-ready time that fits your needs.
Cure time is different from paint-ready time. In general, the cure time indicates when the caulk is in its final state.
For exterior caulk, this matters a lot! A heavy rainstorm before the caulk cures can lead to holes and decreased durability.
What about caulk for indoor use? You don't have to concern yourself too much with cure time. As long as you're not using it around your bath, sink, or wet areas, then cure time isn't a large concern.
The best part about caulk is that it seals gaps and gives you that professional look. But to get that pro look, you need to buy the right caulk. You'll need to get one rated for the size of gaps that you have in your house.
At one end of the spectrum, there is baseboard and trim caulk that fills gaps up to 3/8 inches and at the other end is caulk that can fill gaps up to 3 inches!
What happens if you use a caulk that isn't rated for the size of the hole that you have? If you do that, then the bead of caulk will fall into the gap instead of filling it.
Usually, the larger the gap rating of the caulk, then the higher the viscosity. Caulk with a higher viscosity moves slower, and it can hold its shape when filling in a void within spec.
A waterproof caulk sounds great, but it serves little purpose for interior baseboards, molding, and trim. If these things are getting wet, then you have bigger problems.
Let's talk about a few specific places you might be tempted to use waterproof caulk.
The first place people commonly try to seal is the molding and trim around interior windows. Using caulk in these areas can definitely prevent drafts. But if you're dealing with leaky windows, then a waterproof caulk on the inside is not the answer. If you have leaks, then that's a problem on the outside.
The second place you might want to caulk is around any trim in your basement. Some people use waterproof materials, such as PVC trim, for the lower four feet in a finished basement. The logic goes that if your basement floods, then you don't have to rip out the trim and drywall because it's waterproof.
What about exterior trim and molding? Is waterproof caulk useful there? Yes, but we would recommend a waterproof siliconized acrylic, advanced polymer caulk, or elastomeric sealant. In exterior caulking jobs, a waterproof feature is not the only concern. You also have to consider flexibility and cure time.
Is mold and mildew resistance important for baseboards, trim, and molding? In our opinion, not really. As long as the caulk isn't exposed to moisture, it's unlikely that mold or mildew will form on it. These features are more of a selling point when it comes to caulking your bathroom or exterior.
The durability rating of caulk is like a warranty. In general, a manufacturer may warrant the caulk to perform as described for a certain number of years. What happens if it doesn't? They will refund your money if you show them the receipt.
So here's the question. In 50 years, will you still live in the same house, have the same caulk on your trim, have your receipt, and want to go through all the trouble for a refund of a few dollars? Yeah, probably not.
How can we use the durability rating to our advantage? Easy. It gives us a good reference for the lifespan of the caulk. If you want caulk that has a better chance of lasting longer, buy a higher durability caulk.
The last thing to consider before you buy is whether you should get 10.1-ounce cartridge tubes or 5.5-ounce squeeze tubes.
It makes sense to choose the larger cartridge tubes if you have lots of places to seal. It's cheaper and easier on your hands. But before you start, you'll need a caulk gun. If you don't own one already, you can get a manual plunger-style gun for about $10 to $50. The next step up would be a cordless style caulking gun, and they start at about $75 and can reach up to $250. You can save some money if you own a compatible battery and can then buy the tool only.
What about caulk squeeze tubes products? When should you choose those? A squeeze tube is great if you're making touch-ups, and you don't have a lot to caulk. It's also great when the baseboard is in a hard-to-reach area, and your caulk gun won't fit. In that instance, a squeeze tube is an excellent choice.
The main downside to squeeze tubes, aside from the price per ounce cost, is the limited color selection. Common colors include clear, white, and tan. But most baseboard and trim caulk is paintable, so it's not a dealbreaker.
Besides our guide on buying caulk for trim and baseboards, we also want to answer some of the commonly asked questions about these products. If you have a question we haven't answered, then please drop us a line. We'll try to get it answered and add it to this article.
You might be surprised to know that caulking your baseboards is DIY friendly and give a lot of bang for your buck. It's effortless and can give you that "pro" look you need to show off your house.
If you've never caulked before, then we'll walk you through the process. It's straightforward.
Step 1 - Choose the right caulk for your surface. Use the list above to find one that suits your needs. If durability is a concern, then buy a premium caulk.
Step 2 - Get a caulk gun if you plan on using cartridge tubes. You can probably borrow one from a friend. But manual models are inexpensive and are a good investment. We recommend a drip-free model with a smooth-style plunger rod. You can expect to spend around $25.
Step 3 - Create a well-prepared surface for caulking. Use a utility knife or putty knife to scrape off any old caulk. In some situations, you might have to use water, soap, or isopropyl alcohol to clean up any excess that won't scrape off. While not the focus of this article, if you do happen to be caulking siding, be careful not to damage it using the knife or alcohol. Another tricky substrate is brick, which makes it very hard to remove old caulk. Just try your best and remove as much as you can before you begin.
Step 4 - Optionally tape the surface. If you are new to caulking, you might want to tape off the surface before you begin. Use some painter's tape to mask off the portion above and below where you plan on caulking. Taping helps with excess on the wall and flooring.
Step 5 - Cut the tube. User your utility knife to cut the tip of the nozzle at a 45-degree angle. The amount you cut (further down the tip or higher up on the tip) will determine the bead size when you caulk. Just take a little off at a time because you can always come back and cut it again if the bead size is too small for the gap.
Step 6 - Pierce the seal inside the tube. Most tubes have a seal that you'll need to puncture. Start by checking your caulking gun for a puncture rod. If you don't have one on your gun, you could use a coat hanger, landscape flag, or another small rod to break the seal.
Step 7 - Load the caulk into the gun if you're using a cartridge tube. Pull back on the plunger and insert the tube into the gun tip-first. Every gun is a little different, so check with the manual if you're struggling to figure it out.
Step 8 - Fill a small bowl with one tablespoon of clear dish soap. You'll use the soap to smooth out the bead and create a professional finish. Grab a roll of paper towels too. You'll need them!
Step 9 - Apply the caulk to the gap between the baseboard and the wall. Start by holding the caulk gun at a 45-degree angle against the gap. Then gently squeeze the trigger and wait for some caulk to come out. As it begins to come out of the nozzle, slowly move the gun across the gap in one direction. You want to go fast enough, so there isn't excess build-up in the gap, but slow enough so the caulk doesn't tear apart and leave a hole. The best advice is to move at a steady pace applying consistent pressure.
Step 10 - Smooth out the bead that you used with the soapy finger method. Start by gently dabbing your index finger into the dish of soap, then run your finger along with the bead of caulk in one direction to smooth it out. The soap prevents the caulk from sticking to your finger and creating an undesirable finish. As your finger fills up with excess caulk, wipe it off using a towel.
Step 11 - Fill in any nail holes using excess caulk or spackle if you have it.
Step 12 - Cleanup. Use a damp rag and warm water for easy cleanup. Liquid caulk remover is not recommended for un-cured caulk. At this point, you can also remove any painter's tape if you used that to mask off the area.
Step 13 - If the caulk you purchased is paintable, wait the recommended amount of time before painting.
That's it! You've successfully caulked your baseboards and trim! If you have other interior areas, such as door frames, windows, and molding, the same steps apply.