Step 7: Caulk Seams and Fill Dents

applying caulk to seams in primed cabinets
Photo: Brian Wilder
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Squeeze a thin bead of latex caulk into any open seams. Pull the tip as you go, then smooth the caulk with a damp finger. Fill any small dents, scratches, or dings with vinyl spackle, smoothed flat with a putty knife. Once dry, in about 60 minutes, sand again with 220-grit paper, vacuum, and wipe with tack cloth. Spot-prime the spackle, and any spots where the brushed-on primer is "burned through," with a spray can of fast-drying oil-based primer. Wait an hour, then sand the primer lightly with 280-grit paper. Vacuum all surfaces, and wipe with a tack cloth.

Pro tip: The hole in a caulk tube's tip should be no bigger than the tip of a sharp pencil. Slice 45-degree slivers off the tip with a razor until you see the hole open.
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    Tools List

    • drill
      Drill-driver
    • paint scraper
      Paint scraper
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • shop vacuum
      Shop vacuum with drywall-dust filter
    • random orbit sander
      Random-orbit sander
    • chisel-tip paintbrush
      2½-in. chisel-tip with nylon-polyester bristles
    • eye goggles
      Goggles
    • dual cartridge respirator
      Respirator (fitted with organic-vapor cartridges)
    • rubber gloves
      Chemical-resistant rubber gloves (long-sleeve style)

    Shopping List

    1. Low-tack painter's tape

    2. Rosin paper

    3. 0.5-mil plastic sheet

    4. Tack cloth

    5. Liquid deglosser and abrasive pad

    6. Lint-free rags

    7. 100-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper

    8. Two-part polyester wood filler or autobody filler to fill dings or screw holes

    9. 220-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper to smooth primer between coats

    10. 280-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper to smooth paint between coats

    11. Sanding sponges, medium- and fine-grit12. Vinyl spackle

    13. Oil-based primer for use on smooth surfaces or tight-grained woods (cherry, maple, birch); or
    14. Brushing putty to prime and fill open-grained woods (oak, ash, hickory)

    15. Oil-based spray primer for touch-up

    16. Siliconized acrylic-latex caulk

    17. Oil-based paint Easier to clean and more durable than water-based, which softens when ex­posed to heat or oil.