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As a new goal, I am looking to pick up DIY projects around my house. I am new to DIY projects and am trying to make our food pantry look better. There are 1/10th to 1/4th in gaps between the shelves and the wall. Unsure of what to do, I just decided to buy Loctite Polyseamseal All Purpose Caulk.

After watching a few caulking videos, I cut the caulk tip at 45' angle, and starting using a razor blade to 'even out' the caulk. But then switched to a wet rag to smooth, but i'm just not satisfied with the results. My current system always ends up leaving a little 'U' in the caulk (see picture) where the edges are higher then the middle.

My questions are:

1) Is caulking the correct approach to fixing the gaps? Why/Why not?

2) If so, is there a proper way to caulk the gaps? I'm sure just like most things it's an art form... maybe I just need practice.

3) Is there a general of when to use caulk? Is there alternatives?

My goal from this is to fix the gaps in in the pantry AND hopefully next time be able to identify what needs to be done without asking any questions :) Thanks

caulk with a 'U' in it

Gap Between wall and shelf

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Caulk is likely the correct solution. But it's a learned skill, and actually difficult to do neatly. One tip: Cut the nozzle at an angle, and push the caulk rather than pull it. –  Chris Cudmore Jul 12 '13 at 13:03
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You can also purchase tools to help smooth it out: homedepot.com/p/Workforce-3-in-1-Caulk-Tool-CT31HD/… –  Steven Jul 12 '13 at 13:21
    
Thank you guys very much for the tips and the tool advice. I'll check them out –  ruevaughn Jul 13 '13 at 4:43
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

There are two primary uses for caulk:

  1. aesthetic gap filler
  2. functional moisture/air barrier

For the latter, you'd see that wherever you need to waterproof joints (shower panels, exterior windows, etc.)

For the former, it can really be used in any situation where you have two pieces of material meet. Typically this is done when two different materials meet and you want to cover a small gap. Example would be where door trim meets the sheetrock. Higher end finishing would have that caulked before painting.

So, as for these shelves, it's really up to you. One option is to caulk it. Another would be to attach some trim moulding.

As for how to properly caulk, the basic method is:

  • cut tip to size
  • apply to joint
  • smooth to finish

There are tools to smooth it, but I prefer to just use a wet finger (and plenty of paper towels to wipe finger off as you go...)

Note if the gap is too wide, you may need to fill the gap first. I've used foam weather stripping in the past for this.

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I have come to steal a technique I learned from Mike Holmes, because though I have done plenty of caulking I have to admit that I'm just not very good at it freehand.... I tape the edges of my caulk line.

Then I use a caulking tool for a good uniform shape... The "U" shape is what you're after (more like a hyperbola, though).

Afterwards I pull the tape and have a nice straight caulk line.

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