How to Caulk Baseboards

Painting a room is a big job and there is a lot to think about for preparation. There is the choice of color, the primer and all of the tools that you are going to need to do the job. There is a lot that goes into painting a room, but one of the parts of the job that commonly gets overlooked is caulking the baseboards. Tim Albright, owner of Naperville Painters, explains the importance of caulking below.

Caulk is going to do the job to seal any cracks in the wood or drywall, make the joints look perfect, and to create alignment in cuts that were made uneven due to human error. It is also used to keep drafts out and keep critters from making your home their home. It also helps to make the baseboards easier to clean by eliminating the areas where dust can collect and hide,” says Albright.

Caulking is a job that requires some practice, but it becomes easier the more that you do it. There are six steps in the process of caulking that are outlined below:

CHOOSE THE RIGHT CAULK

There are a lot of different kinds of caulk and each is designed for a specific room and to do a specific job. There are waterproof caulks that are to be used in rooms like the bathroom or the kitchen. In other rooms, latex caulks (also known as acrylic latex or painter’s caulk) will be used. It is made so that it expands to fill cracks and it dries quickly. There are also many different colors of caulk and ones that can even be painted so that they blend into the room color.

PREP THE BASEBOARDS

You will need to remove any old caulk with a tool like a putty knife or a wire brush. It is a good idea to run a vacuum over the area to remove any remaining particles and dust and then clean it with vinegar or bleach. This will guarantee that there is a clean surface to caulk on so that the seal is not compromised. Some painters caulk above and below where you are going to caulk is helpful so that you have a line to follow as you apply the bead of caulk.

LOAD THE CAULK GUN

Many caulks come in the form that requires them to be loaded into a caulk gun for application. You will have to cut the tip of the caulk cartridge at a 45-degree angle and usually a 1/8 to a ¼ of an inch from the tip. This all depends on the size of the bead that you are looking to apply. Then load that caulk into the gun.

APPLY THE CAULK

Practice first before laying down the first piece. A piece of paper or cardboard is great for this. This will allow you to figure out how the caulk will leave the tube and how fast or slow you need to move in order to get the bead size that you need. Hold the gun at a 45-degree angle and gently and repeatedly squeeze the trigger. Make sure that you are moving at a steady pace so that the caulk is evenly distributed and straight along the line where you are caulking.

SMOOTH THE CAULK

A gloved finger dipped in water or an ice cube will work great for this and do it right after you finish and the caulk is still wet. This will make your caulk job look more professional and help to smooth out any rough spots or spots that didn’t turn out so good.

REMOVE PAINTER’S TAPE

You are going to want to remove the painter’s tape when the caulk is still wet otherwise the tape will stick to the caulk and mess up your bead. You will also need to let the caulk dry before painting it the wall color.

Remember to Test Your Smoke Detectors

man testing smoke detector

First and foremost, your home should be safe for you and your family and pets. Nothing comes before that. In terms of protecting a home, fire alarms and smoke detectors are very important. Be sure to install both in your home. Both can alert you to dangerous smoke, gases and fire with enough time to safely evacuate your home. That is why you need to remember to test your smoke detectors from time to time to ensure they are functioning correctly.

WHY IT IS NECESSARY?

Electronic devices malfunction. Sometimes due to loss of battery power or internal components wearing down. This is why it is a good idea to test them and replace batteries or even the entire smoke detector periodically. Periodic tests and new batteries could be the difference in keeping your family safe in an emergency.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TEST SMOKE DETECTORS?

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) encourages homeowners to test their smoke detectors once every month and to replace the batteries twice each year. Consider doing this the same day you update the clocks in your home for daylight saving time. The USFA recommendation might vary based on the model of smoke detector, user manual guidelines and the following factors:

  • Regular false alarms
  • Short beeping sounds
  • Frequent activation leading to wear

TYPES OF SMOKE DETECTORS

There are two common types of smoke detectors found in most homes in the USA:

BATTERY-POWERED: This model of smoke detector is prone to defects based on battery age and power. It is important to test this type of unit each month. Never install used batteries in a smoke detector.

HARDWIRED: This model runs off the electrical system in your home and has backup batteries too. This means this type of smoke detector will continue to work even if there is no power in your home. You will still want to test hardwired smoke detectors each both to ensure the backup batteries are working and all other parts are functioning.

STEPS TO TEST A SMOKE DETECTOR:

Follow the instructions in the manual. Each model of smoke detector is different. However, there are some standard guidelines and in most instances, both battery-powered and hardwired models can be tested with the steps below:

STEP 1: Notify everyone in the home about the test. Standard smoke detectors emit high-pitched and loud alarm sounds that can be irritating and frightening. Advance notice will let everyone ready themselves for the test and won’t scare children or pets if placed away from the alarm.

STEP 2: Have one member of the family stand as far away from the alarm as possible in order to determine if the beeping sound can be heard from everywhere in the home. If the person cannot hear the alarm, another smoke detector needs to be installed in that area of the home.

STEP 3: There should be a “test” button on the smoke detector. Press and hold the button for a few seconds until a beep or siren emits from the unit. The sound should be ear-piercing. If the sound is dull or muted, you need to replace the batteries on the smoke detector. You should replace the batteries regardless if it has been 6 months or longer. Test the new batteries and inspect the unit for debris, dust or anything that might stop the alarm even with new batteries.

The standard life span for a residential smoke detector is 10 years. The USFA recommends replacing a smoke detector after 10 years even if it still appears to be functional. Consult the manual to ensure the manufacturer recommendation is in line with the USFA.

In conclusion, never assume that a smoke detector is working. Be diligent in testing all of the units in your home once each month. The entire process should not require more than 5-10 minutes and could be critical in the event of an emergency.

How to Insulate Your Home

plastic window sealant

Brrr! Cold weather is on the way. For some northern and Midwestern states, the frigid temperatures have already arrived. The good news is there are several repairs, chores and upgrades homeowners can complete to improve insulation and improve energy efficiency during colder months. And, it’s not late to get them done!

The repairs and home improvement opportunities below will help to create a comfortable and cozier living space for your family and you to enjoy when the weather outside is too freezing and frightful.

TIPS FOR A WARM HOME THIS WINTER

(1) PROPER ATTIC INSULATION

The first area of your home to insulate before the winter weather arrives is the attic. The average homeowner spends almost no time in their attic. I would recommend at least one trip up there each year to inspect the condition of the insulation on the floor. Be aware of areas of the attic floor that need more insulation installed. Be sure to review the roof above too. Look out for gaps and crack where cold win and air could come through. Attic insulation can be purchased from a local hardware store.

 (2) PLASTIC WINDOW SEALANT

I recommend a trip to a local hardware store or retailer to purchase plastic window sealant. The cost is very low and will ultimately save you money in heating and electric bills during the winter. The project requires about 1-2 hours of time depending on the number of windows in your home. Place the plastic across each window and then seal it to the window frame with tape. One or two rolls of the sealant should be enough to complete the job.

 (3) INSTALL CARPET

The best type of flooring for cold weather is carpet. I would recommend carpet for living rooms and bedrooms in homes in cold weather areas of the United States. Carpet is warm and provides insulation on the ground. For homes with hardwood or laminate flooring, consider placing large area rugs in order to insulate high-traffic areas throughout the house.

 (4) REPLACE FURNACE FILTER

Don’t forget to replace the furnace filter in the furnace in your home before winter. A fresh filter is much more efficient than a dirty one and will help reduce energy and heating costs in your home during cold months. This is an easy job. A quality furnace filter typically costs around $10-20 at a local hardware store and can be installed in 1-2 minutes or less. Refer to hvac.com for tips on replacing a furnace filter.

 (5) USE SPACE HEATERS

You can add heat in a room with the strategic placement of space heaters. You can purchase a quality space heater for around $60-100 from a hardware store. Be careful to remember to turn off and unplug space heaters before leaving your home or going to bed for the night. Depending on how cold the weather is outside, you might consider just running a space heater and curling up beneath a blanket instead of turning up the heat in your home as it will be much cheaper.

I hope the tips above are helpful for keeping your home warm this upcoming winter. A cold home is not comfortable or inviting for friends and holiday guests. Most of the projects above can be completed in a weekend and will be beneficial in preventing cold air from the outdoors from entering inside your home.