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Gimme Shelter: Yachad's Blog

Ask the Experts: Caulking

Robin Renner, Construction Director, answers questions about DIY home repairs.

I have tons of what looks like failing/old/dried out caulk lines. Is there a way to recaulk without having to paint again?

Yes, you can recaulk seams that have cracks or stretch marks. Some people think you need to remove ALL the old caulk before you recaulk, but there is a shortcut that I’ve used for years and holds up very well.

Seams and cracks in caulk show up as black lines because of the shadowing. Caulking will fill the crack and eliminate the shadowing. It depends on whether you want to see a black line or a white line in the caulk seam. I prefer the white line myself.

  • First, clean the area to caulk. Make sure there’s no dust or dirt to stop the caulk from sticking. Use a brush to get the dirt out of the cracked area. A small brush, like a nail brush, may work perfectly. Let dry.
  • Then get ready to caulk. You’re going to cut the end of the caulk tube smaller than usual. Usually, you cut a 45-degree angle, about 1/2 inch from the end. For this, cut at 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the end.
  • Your goal is NOT to set a new caulk bead but to FILL l the existing bead crack. Apply very little because you’ll be wiping most of it off. Caulk and wipe with a wet/damp cloth, so there is only caulk in the crack. Let dry, and you’re done.

Do remember that exposed latex/acrylic caulk (painter’s caulk) will collect dirt more easily (not so with some latex/acrylic/silicone mixes, they are often meant to be exposed but don’t hold paint well, so read the label.) That means in about a year, your caulk line may be dirtier than the surrounding painted surface.

If you care, and after it’s dry the next day, use matching paint and a small art brush to touch up the new caulk line.

Check out our caulk glossary to help you find the right one.

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