Caulking the Joints of Painted Doors

To caulk or not to caulk? And if to caulk, how to caulk? Good tips here on tips. February 21, 2011

I know this has been asked a million times - to caulk or not to caulk around the inside of the frame of a frame and panel door. Caulking is time consuming and the paint may crack on the caulk line. Un-caulked and you see the dark line, and water may get in. What is the professional way to go? If caulking is recommended then what brand of caulk works the best and are there any tips to make it go fast?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
I usually lay down a few coats of primer and then grind it down, lay on another one, and then look for voids in the joinery. The DAP white caulk in the red squeeze tube is my go-to caulk. The filling process might be a little time consuming but the end results are worth it.

I like to use a clean wet (moist) cotton rag to remove the excess caulk and Iím always using a clean part of the rag so as not to spread the caulking all over the place. The 90 degree corners can be a bit troublesome when removing the excess caulk but if you wrap the rag around a chiseled pointy piece of doweling it hastens the caulk removal.

From contributor S:
My method is the same as Contributor Rís. The only thing I will add is do not cut the tip of the caulk. Sand it off until you get a small hole and then use an 18 gauge finish nail to poke a hole in tube. You want to sand the tip like a wedge so the wedge tip with the hole runs in the grove. If you get your tip right there is very little cleanup, if any.

From contributor C:
I started my finishing career as a painter, so I've caulked a lot of linear feet. I like to use the sea sponge to clean excess caulk. Change the rinse water when it starts to get cloudy. Albion makes good caulk guns. Dap 230 works great under the catalyzed finishes.

From contributor J:
I use the Wilsonart caulk. I always have them leftover from laminate jobs anyways. I prime then caulk. Thank you Contributor S for the tip on the tips. I always seem to end up with a cut tip bigger then I want. Brilliant!

From contributor C:
Whenever I have to caulk small spaces I use a syringe without the needle to get just enough into the groove. I also keep one in my tool box for small installs. No lugging around a large gun and the syringe gets into those really tight spots. On the down side itís not good for large jobs where you must caulk many doors or seams.

From contributor M:
It all depends on the panel. If the panel is MDF or plywood then caulking is fine, if the panel is solid wood I would never caulk due to wood movement.

From contributor K:
Here's another trick - use masking tape wrapped around the end of the caulking tip to give yourself a renewable and finely adjustable tip.

From contributor N:
I also like Dap the best, but I chose it because it dries quicker than most of the other brands I have looked at. I caulk then prime and it seems to work very well. Why do you all lay a coat of primer down before caulking?

From contributor R:
Contributor N - I find I can see the voids a bit better once a coat of primer is applied prior to caulking. Also, I like to have those first couple of primer coats sanded nice and smooth so after the caulking is applied Iím not concerned with sanding any of the caulking out of the seams. Once the caulking has dried, I hit everything once again with a coat of primer.
Then the fun begins.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
The reason it is advisable to prime or seal the surface prior to applying caulk is so the moisture is not sucked out of the caulk. This causes it to shrink and not cure properly, which leads to early failure.