Fix-It Friday: Caulk Talk With Norma Vally

Fix-It FridayHome Improvement 1 Comment

“While remodeling our home my husband used silicone caulk everywhere! He got it on the door, trim, & baseboards. When I painted the paint did not stick to the caulk on these spots. Is there any way to fix these spots so paint will adhere to them when I repaint again?” – WYSK reader, Louise Hornsby Burrell

NV: Oh that silly ‘ol silicone – I feel your pain, Louise! Years back I learned that “no-stick” lesson the hard way. Like your husband, I used it everywhere, and when I went to paint, the color just beaded up like oil on a new Teflon pan. But don’t you worry, the fix is here!

caulk_coloredFirst, a quick silicone lesson – ’cause it’s not just for bad implants anymore! Silicone is a type of caulk, and caulk, simply put, fills seams and joints. For creating a watertight seal, like around windows or plumbing fixtures, silicone is often used because its waterproof, flexible, durable, and cures quickly. It performs best on glass, tile, and metal and cleans up with mineral spirits.

In more recent years companies have formulated a paintable silicone, some of which even cleanup with soap and water… but alas, not the case with the silicone hubby used.

So getting back to your question, what to do when silicone caulk is all over your woodwork? Here are the steps:

  • Lightly sand the affected area with fine-grit sandpaper. FYI sanding any shiny smooth surface gives it a “tooth” (tiny bites and tears) for the paint to stick to.
  • Wipe the area down with a detergent (which will clear away dust and degrade the silicone).
  • Prime it with an oil-based primer making it ready to receive a latex paint, or paint it directly with an oil-based paint.

Red Devil Painter's CaulkWhile we’re at it, let me share a few of my favorite CAULK-TAIL recipes!

Painter’s Caulk  – This is a must-have when painting around molding. It fills in all the fine joints, is sand-able and paintable. When a seam is a ½ inch or larger, fill it in a few applications, allowing it to dry in between. Applying too much caulking at once won’t allow it to cure properly and it will fall away or crack open over a short period of time.

Exterior Caulk – When it comes to sealing joints on exterior projects my favorite caulking to use is a product called Sonneborn NP1 Polyurethane Sealant. It can be used on metal, wood, and masonry. It remains flexible and is highly water and climate resistant. One downfall, it has a strange intensely sweet odor that lingers a few days – not a product to use indoors.

Most important thing to remember, when choosing a caulk, make sure you buy one that is specifically formulated for your application. Also, be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for prepping the surface and curing times. This is crucial for your caulking project to be successful.

For example, in a tub, you must make sure the joints are dry before caulking. That may mean not using the shower for 24 hours – but here’s a tip: use a blow dryer on the joints to speed up drying time!

Achieving Caulk Perfection

Caulk is the finishing touch that just can’t be skipped whether you’re sealing a tub, sink or trim. So this is how to achieve sealing perfection for any caulking job.

Better than using a tool, smooth out the caulk bead with your fingertip, first wetting your fingertip with water, for latex caulk, or baby oil for silicone. A moistened fingertip will give you a smooth, neat caulk bead every time!

You can see yours truly, in action, demonstrating this easy process in the video below.

(Note: To view video on an apple mobile device – iPhone or iPad – please click here).

Now you have all the goods on caulking… using the right product and technique for your next project!

Norma sig

Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.


Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.


  • Claudette Erich

    I bought a condo with popcorn ceilings. The concrete under the popcorn in slabs.
    I am told that the seam will always show ,if the popcorn is removed and the ceiling glazed and then painted. My contractor is suggesting to gyproc the whole ceiling.
    Is there a special silicon or caulking that can be sanded and painted , and that will
    not let the seam show thru the painting ? ….or is gyproc the only answer ?