Caulk and Spackle, my BFFs

Helloooo there! Our gorgeous week of weather continues here, but I've been inside addressing a project that I’ve been avoiding for months.

It’s the not-so-fun stuff of room redos that stall me out. I’d rather cut and install molding then do the finishing work – the caulking and spackling and sanding.


These are the days I wish I hired out. :)

I haven’t touched the office redo in such a long time…it’s just silly. I still haven’t painted that board and batten. I’ve been procrastinating that fun job because I had another fun job that had to be done first.

“Fun” = sarcasm.

But I picked up a little addition to the space a couple of weeks ago and it’s spurred me on to get it done already!! (More about that in bit.)

I finally got the mdf wall treatment prepped for paint and it’s not my favorite part by any stretch. This stuff isn’t hard, it’s just time consuming. After caulking for so many years, I have it down to a science, so I thought I should share my process.

After a molding project, you’ll need a couple things to finish up the job:

caulk and spackle

Caulk, (and a caulking gun) and spackle.

The caulk also comes in tubes that you just squeeze, but for a job like this – use the gun. For reals. Your hands and arms will thank me. :)

This is what a corner of the office looked like before I started:

board and batten

It doesn’t look too bad far away, but up close you see the meeeeellions of nail holes, the gaps where the mdf pieces didn’t meet up perfectly, and the gaps where the wall and mdf aren’t flush.

When I install molding, I usually don’t caulk anything until right before I’m about to paint the last coat. But with this project there were some big gaps that needed to be filled, so I wanted to make sure they got plenty of coats of paint.

The reason I usually wait till I’m almost done is that MOST of the “gaps” don’t need caulk at all. A coat or two of paint will cover them just fine:

That lower joint will go away with paint no problem. But the larger gap won’t, so it gets the first of my BFFs – caulk.

Before you start – listen carefully. Always, always, ALWAYS use paintable caulk. Alllllways.

Even if you think you’ll never paint it again…use paintable caulk.

You never know what you’ll do in the future – even white paint will need touch ups over the years. Unpaintable caulk does not take kindly to paint.

Believe me. :)

So, you’ve got your paintable caulk. To start, trim off the top of the nozzle at an angle – but don’t cut it too low down on the nozzle. (Up high is a smaller hole, lower is a larger one.)

You want a thin line of caulk in most cases, and if it’s not big enough you can make always make it larger later.

Make sure the angle of the nozzle is up against your surface:

how to caulk

Then squeeze out a small amount into the joint, from top to bottom:

This is why you want a small bead most of the time – if it’s too thick you’re just going to waste a TON of caulk, and you’ll have an even bigger mess on your hands than usual. :)

Did I mention caulking is messy? I’ve tried everything to make it not so messy and it’s failed every time.

Messy is good. Be at peace with the messy.

You’ll need lots of paper towels too. Grab a bunch, get them good and wet, and wrap it over your finger like so:

This is pretty intense huh? ;)

I know you are on the edge of your seat. I know.

Take the paper towel finger and drag it down over the bead like so:

You don’t want to dig in too much, or you’ll remove most of what you just put on. You don’t want to be too light because you won’t take off enough. I usually go over it a few times, folding the paper towel over again with each swipe. 

That’s it! If it’s not perfect, I swear it won’t matter. Especially if you are painting everything out white, you’ll never notice it.

It is an amazing material because it covers a multitude of sins. I know this. :)

The next miracle worker is my friend spackle.

I use this for the holes – and because I’m obsessed with my nail gun, I always have a ton of holes.

I get a little out of control. :)

Git yer tub of spackle, get a glob:

how to spackle

And smoosh it in there:

Random weird note – I always use my middle finger. Not sure why. I’m not mad at ya spackle. :)

Sometimes I’ll have a very large gap where my measurements weren’t quite perfect:

For those, you can either try cutting a sliver to fill it in, or you can just fill it with spackle or caulk. I do both. Sometimes larger gaps like this take more than one application of the stuff, but after it’s sanded and painted, you won’t even notice!

Speaking of sanding – that’s your last step. I pretty much always use sanding blocks:

sanding block

Love those with this shape because I can get into detailed areas.

Sand down your spackle after it dries (I love mine because it dries super fast) – but don’t sand the caulked spots. As far as I know they don’t make sandable caulk. ;)

It took a couple hours to do the whole space – including clean up. But it makes such a difference!:

Better, yes?

My little addition that got this ball rolling is a chair I found at Homegoods – it’s a lot more streamlined and much smaller than the beast we had in there before:

That one is now in hubby’s basement office, and it’s perfect in there!

I was planning on recovering the cushions on both the chair and ottoman, but when I found this chair, I was smitten:

board and batten office

It’s simple, it fits the space MUCH better, and it’s super comfy! I threw the poof in there for now, but I’m hoping to find an ottoman I can recover.

When the drapes are up behind it, it’s going to look SO good.

They look like they were made for each other:

LOVE it!

That pillow is from HomeGoods too – found that a few months ago for $20. It’s nearly identical to the Pottery Barn pillows for twice that. :)

I’m excited to get this ball rolling and have a finished office space. And now that the holes and gaps are gone, it’s finally ready for paint!




Anyone want to come help??

Got any spackle or caulk hints? Do share! And seriously, want to come paint my office? ;)


P.S. You can see more of the office redo by clicking here.

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