Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Picking out old caulk: am I out of my mind?
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Picking out old caulk: am I out of my mind?

We'll be painting the walls of every single room in our new (to us) Greek Revival.

The white paint on the woodwork is in fairly good shape. We have strong evidence that the wood was stripped in about 1980 by a former owner (hallelujah). There are spots where the top layer of paint is bubbling and flaking (we can see, in these spots, that there're a total of two coats of paint on the wood). I'm hoping to be able to sand these spots and repaint. I definitely don't want to strip the wood and start again.

So, now to my question: if I want a super-crisp line between wall and wood (and I do), do I need to pick out the old caulk? There are spots where the caulk has cracked, but mostly the caulk is blobby and overpainted (wall paint slopped over onto wood). It's not ultra horrible, but it is not crisp.

I've picked all the old caulk in the living room, and as I contemplate all the other rooms I am beginning to wonder if I've gone 'round the bend. What would you do? Pick it out and recaulk...or use painter's tape and strive for a new clean paint line?

Re: Picking out old caulk: am I out of my mind?


Whether or not you re-caulk, painters blue tap will definitely give you the crisp, even, straight lines you are looking for. When using blue tape, I would pull it as soon as I had painted a section of wall. Don't wait until it dries. It pulls more cleanly when it is still slightly wet. Also, if some paint has crept under the tape, it is easy to clean up when it is still wet.

As to whether or not to re-caulk: it is somewhat of a judgement call. If the old caulk has a minot hairline crack in it, or it has slightly schrunk, I would just top it of with a new bead. If it is pulling away from the wall or woodwork, I would finish pulling it out. I would also pull out any high sports or bumps. such blemishes will make your paint line wook uneven, especially if you are using sharp color contrasts.

A good economical caulk for this work is "Dap Alex Plus" siliconized acrylic caulk. It holds well, is water soluable and is paintable. DO NOT use pure silicon caulk! Also, give the caulk several hours to dry before painting over it. If it is still curing and contracting when you paint over it, the paint film will develope a hairline crack whick is unsightly.

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