Do-it-yourself ideas, bargains and resources for all around your home.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I am master of the caulk.

Dang. I have been busy. In addition to Margret being home sick for two days, I decided to tackle some kitchen painting. This is how the room has looked:

Due to my obsessive HGTV/DIY watching, I picked up a tip about protecting your floors during painting. I have cork floors and I was nervous about dripping paint on them, so I taped down contractor's paper over the entire surface. It took a while to do, but it was well worth it.

This is how the kitchen looks today. I painted the ceiling and added a second coat of green to the walls. It's hard to photograph a ceiling, but here's one shot:

It's a smooth plaster ceiling and it was slightly damaged during cabinet installation, so I knew I was going to have to paint it. The original color was a little darker and I wanted to brighten things up, so I picked Valspar Polished Ivory in satin finish. I've never painted a ceiling before and it was freakin' hard. I rolled on two coats (with about two hours drying time in between) then cut in with a paint brush around the edges. It was completely worth the effort because it looks so fresh now.

Before I did the painting, I made some repairs. Remember this?

Now it looks like this:
I bought some unfinished molding (you can pretty much assume everything I buy is from Lowe's) and cut it to fit the areas between the cabinets and walls. I only had a tiny little hacksaw but it worked. I also got a wood chisel so I could chisel out the cove molding at the top and slide the new molding in. That was totally freakin' hard. I ended up knocking down one section of cove molding and John and I had a difficult time getting it back up. I dearly wished for a nail gun, but suffered through with a hammer and a lot of determination.

After I cut the new molding, I added a coat of green paint. This was my solution for integrating the molding and cabinetry. I was able to caulk on either side to completely eliminate cracks. In between coats of paint on the ceiling, I added another coat of green to the walls and covered up some of the caulk (make sure you get paintable caulk for a project like this). I'm fine with leaving some caulk lines visible along the cabinets.

I'm still working on this area below. I'm using spackle to build up the gap between the top of the pantry and the ceiling. Later I'll sand it down and paint to match the ceiling. I realize that this may not be the best solution: settling may cause additional cracks down the road, but I just couldn't leave that giant gap.

Now, let's get back to caulking. In a previous post I mentioned my fear of caulking. My one experience had been caulking our barn before painting it and I was spectacularly bad at it. After doing some reading, I've discovered that you need three things to successfully caulk:
1. a quality caulk gun
2. a caulk smoothing tool
3. time

Let me tell you: I totally rock the caulk now. I spent about $14 on this gun, a Z-Pro Acu-Vac. It has a mechanism that sucks a little caulk back in whenever you release the trigger. So when you want to stop caulking, you actually stop caulking. This saves countless hours and much aggravation. I also picked up a few caulk caps. They may not prevent the caulk from drying out eventually, but I know it'll stay fresh for a few days.

And here is my new best friend: the caulk smoothing tool. After you run a bead of caulk, you drag this tool along it and it smooths the caulk and removes any excess. Your caulk will look awesome after using it. This thing only costs a few bucks but I would pay dozens of dollars for it. It's that special to me.

The last thing you need is time. Take your time. Even if you have a tight deadline, just act like you have all the time in the world. Go slow. Breathe. Hold the gun steady and push it away from you, leaving a trail of caulk behind. That will help push the caulk into the crack and make a good seal. Pull the smoothing tool across the caulk. And you will get something that looks like:

I know. I am so awesome now.


Just a Walk in the Park said...

O.K., you are the caulking queen, but I love, love, love, the color you painted the kitchen.

Amy said...

So you've been hiding out here! Well, I've found ya. Don't you have a husband for all this hard stuff? :p I totally admire your DIY skills!!

Francine said...

you rock girlie!!

Sharon said...

I need one of those tools! We need to re-caulk all of the bathroom and kitchen counters. Thanks for the motivation!! :)

Vivian said...

I have decided that you are twins. There is no other possible way you could do all that you do! I never cease to be astonished at all that you accomplish!

Jan said...

Using one of my BFF's a my favorite phrases - you're one helluva woman! :)

Your kitchen looks sooooo pretty! LOVE that color! Makes me want to freshen up mine a bit...

Rachael said...

Thank you so much for the tips!!! We have some caulking to do in our bathroom and this will definately help!!

Your kitchen looks gorgeou!

Anonymous said...

I used to have the best "caulk smoothing tool" made by red devil. Then I stepped on it and broke it, and when I tried to get a new one, I found out they don't make them anymore. It worked better than the one you have, which to me made the bead too thin. When you put a cap on the partially used caulk tube, if you use electrical tape to seal the cap it lasts much longer before drying out.

Hank said...

I have the same caulking gun and it is truely transfomed me from an amature to a pro when it comes to caulking. The problem is my gun is about 3 yrs old now and has A LOT of use behind it and now needs replacing. It is no longer availale at my local home improvement store. Do you have any siggestions where I can purchase another one?