Caulk or Not to Caulk
How do you know when it’s time for caulking?
When re finishing Kitchen cabinets you must ask yourself what are the real reasons for caulking and why is it done other than just for aesthetic reasons.
As a member of several groups in social media in both painting and the decorative arts/faux finishing I have seen the caulking issue come up on more than one occasion and felt I should write this and put it to bed. For at least this aspect of it.
I have repeated this answer more than once and for nearly 4o years now you would have thought I would have written this years ago.
I suppose it’s because we get wiser as we get older or that’s my excuse anyway.
This questionable problem came up as to caulking between a new hardwood flooring install and a kitchen cabinet toe kick. Case being that after the new flooring had been replaced it left a rather aesthetically unbalanced appearance or a “gap” of an 1/8″ between the two adjacent areas.
Here was my answer;
Fixing these kind of things has always been done as a standard in the (painting) business ever since I can remember. If it cracks then the caulk that is being used is not sufficient which is why I use the Sherwin Williams 950A. Although the flooring “moves” so does the caulk, (it’s what its designed for). It’s just a matter of using the right kind of material in the right situation. Caulking is to protect substrates from water “whicking” through the wood causing damage to both substrates adjacent to one another and should not be ignored just because,
“it’s going to crack anyway.”
That last quote is what got my attention to this issue as it is a no excuse kind of approach that you certainly would not tell a client/customer as a reason for not fixing it. It cracked me up when I read it (No pun intended, yeah right)
Sometimes I have had to use three different types of caulk on a single cabinet install that was determined by the architect in the finishing schedule of the drawing specs.(blueprints) It leaves a cleaner professional finish and when done correctly will last for years. If you already have finished areas then you can always apply whats called a “caulk line” very simple and easy to do. This is a system that is also old school when “caulking stained finished surfaces to painted finished surfaces” by using a high quality caulking material and a high quality non leaking low tack tape. ( No cheap crap comes out my shop, period.)
The cheap stuff is what makes it a headache. A good quality caulking has weight and density and is not suppose to be light weight and ‘runny” Even tile, marble, and counter top installers are required to caulk and seal all adjacent areas of substrates for protection against whicking issues. This is a standard for plumbers in accordance to their licensing requirements also. You don’t let things “go” because “all they’re going to do is crack later”. It’s things like this that separate the professionals from the amateurs. Not sealing these areas will create more damage over time than not. Sure it may crack later but that could be because of cheap materials, structure settling, or just bad preparation and it is all part of the warranty and extenuating circumstances.
Proper maintenance should be spelled out to the home owner and General Contractor in your contract as well as normal wear and tear from daily use of said substrates. This is part of whats called “qualifying” questionable areas of concern and getting clarification with all parties involved. It’s basic Contract Law 101. Refer to your states requirements and purchase the book. I know it varies from state to state but it’s all pretty much the same in all which requires that all contractors and sub contractors have a copy of to refer to on hand at all times in case questions like this come up.
There should always be a “Finishing Schedule” page to all architectual drawings (blueprints) that spells out conditions and supplied to the builders and General Contractors who are to supply copies to all sub contractors service companies and vendors. If not then failures fall on the General Contrators and there for make them liable to a certain extent determining what is construed as normal and standard procedures by professional trade organizations such as in this case would be defined by the PDCA Standards (Painting & Decorating Contractors of America) which you should join and acquire a copy of and use it in your contracts. DO NOT TAKE THIS PERSONAL I WRITE THIS FOR EVERYONE who fall in the subcontractors category for which this is only part of being a professional painting contractor in Naples Fl.