Beware of Shrinkage!

how to paint moldings

A small gap like this on can be filled with caulk because it is so small.

[This is part of my How to Paint Moldings series.]

When to Use Caulk

Use caulk on very small gaps or holes, because caulk will shrink a bit when it dries.

That shrinkage will leave a slight cup on the surface of the caulk.  And that’s OK for these small gaps and holes, but it’s not OK for filling larger gaps where the filler needs to hold its shape.

Also, caulk can’t be sanded, so don’t put it anyplace that will be worked over by sandpaper.

See the kind of caulk I use here >>

how to caulk moldings and millwork

This small gap between wall and molding can be filled with caulk.


When to Use Spackling

Besides using spackling to fill nail holes on your molding, use it to fill gaps where you need the filler to hold its shape.

Just as important, use it where you’ll need to shape the filler after it has dried, like in the example below.

how to paint moldings and millwork

A gap this wide should be filled with spackling so that it can be shaped and sanded.

Above  This is the same section of vertical wall frame as pictured at the top of this post.

The gap is wide enough at this point that I want to fill it with spackling so that I can shape it into a nice ninety degree angle after the spackling is dry.

Below  Even though this gap is pretty small, I’m going to fill it with spackling instead of caulk.

Because when it’s finished, I want that gap to look like it’s part of the molding.

See the kind of spackling I use here >>

how to paint moldings

A bow in the wall creates a large gap that will be filled with spackling.

Fast and Slow Methods

Caulking gaps and holes is much faster than filling those same spaces with spackling.

So save yourself a lot of extra work by learning the best use for each kind of filler.  All it takes is a little practice and you’ll be a spackling and sanding pro in no time!

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