Skirting boards are a regular fixture in homes and offices. They cover up gaps, protect walls and add style to a space. But sometimes, when installed, skirting boards leave an awful-looking space between the wall or floor and the skirting. Such areas could become an abode for dirt, liquids, and dust. Caulking the skirting board solves this problem by providing a seal between the wall or floor and the skirting.
However, while many recommend caulking small gaps between walls and skirting boards, there are sometimes reservations about doing so at the bottom of the skirting. Here we examine if you should apply caulking at the bottom of your skirting board. First, we look at skirting boards and caulking for the sake of the uninitiated. Then we answer the main question by considering possible reasons for caulking the bottom of the skirting board. Last, we examine cons and alternatives to caulk for the base of skirting boards.
Skirting Board and Caulking: What are they?
Skirting boards, skirting, or baseboards are thin pieces of wood installed at the base of a wall. It is placed where the wall meets the floor. Walls can be vulnerable around their base to wear and tear. The bottom of the wall is susceptible to scuff marks from foot traffic and moisture. The possibility of damage to the wall’s base increases in high-traffic places and industrial facilities with machinery and other work equipment.
So, Skirting boards are an important way to protect the base of the wall and prevent damage to the wall as a whole. In addition, skirting helps to cover up the meeting point of the wall and the floor, which can be unsightly. In this sense, skirting boards can function ornamentally to provide a clean and tidy appearance. In decorating, you can go with different styles and colors to fit the rest of the space’s aesthetic.
Furthermore, you can get a sense of scale in a room with a skirting board. The vertical nature of the board can cause the room to appear more spacious or taller.
Yet, in installing skirting boards, new problems can emerge. Gaps between the skirting and wood may trap moisture, dirt, and debris. One way to fix this is with caulk.
Caulk is a flexible substance that seals cracks or gaps between building components and other materials. The spaces filled are usually less than a quarter inch wide and half an inch deep. Caulk is the sealant and the process of sealing a gap.
One reason to caulk a skirting board is to create a seamless look between the skirting board and the wall or floor. Caulking can help give your space a polished look. Additionally, caulking the skirting will prevent debris or moisture from seeping into the gap. Also, spaces between skirting and walls or floors could serve as crevices for small pests, and caulking can prevent this.
Caulking is typically used between walls and skirting boards or on top of the skirting. And most of the reasons we outlined above explain why. But less common is caulking spaces between the floor and skirting board.
Should You Caulk the Bottom of Skirting Board?
Yes, you can caulk skirting boards, even if it is not always necessary. Below are some situations when caulking skirting boards may be necessary:
1) Soft and Carpet Floors
Soft and carpet floors are more likely to suffer damage from moisture than hard floors. A space between the floor and skirting can allow water to seep in. Because of the location, humidity or wetness, it may be harder to clean and longer to dry such openings. Over time such moisture exposure can accelerate damage to soft floors. So, caulking to cover such gaps can help prevent floor damage.
2) Small Gaps and Uneven Surfaces
If you have small gaps or uneven surfaces between the skirting board and floor, you can use a flexible caulk designed for trims to remedy the issue. Uneven floors can make installing baseboards flat on their surface difficult, creating gaps. In this case, applying flexible caulk will give allowance for floor movements and help create a tidy appearance.
3) Preventing Mold
Failure to caulk the bottom of the skirting board can create the appropriate conditions for the growth of mold and mildew. Moisture seeping into spaces at the bottom of a baseboard is ideal for mold growth. Mold and mildew can be hazardous to human health. With caulk, you can stop liquids from seeping into gaps between the skirting and floor and remove one potential opportunity for the growth of mold and mildew in your space.
4) Humid Environments
Moisture is a bigger problem in humid environments or climates that experience high precipitation. Caulking the bottom of a skirting board could be helpful if you find yourself in such a climate and have soft floors. In addition, caulking the bottom of a skirting can also prevent dirt and dust from getting underneath, even on hard floors.
Problems With Caulking the Bottom of Skirting Boards
Below we will explain why caulking the bottom of their skirting boards may be problematic.
1) Hinders Floor Movement and Expansion
Solid wood floors may expand with time, mainly due to high humidity in the air. A well-done skirting board design should allow for this natural movement or expansion. Caulk applied to the bottom of a skirting board can hinder natural floor movements and expansion. This issue may cause warping or cracking in the skirting board and failure of the caulk.
2) Large Gaps
Caulk is not great when used on gaps more significant than a quarter of an inch and more than half an inch deep. Using caulk on the bottom of baseboards with dimensions larger than described will likely lead to issues. Caulk used to fill significant gaps will see the caulk fall deep into the hole in time. Caulk in large gaps fails pretty fast, and you should avoid using it in such situations.
3) Applying Caulk Can Be Difficult
Caulking the bottom of skirting boards can be an arduous undertaking, especially if you do not have much experience doing it. Furthermore, it can be challenging to clean caulk if it spills outside the required area. You should consider using painter’s tape to cover areas of the floor where the caulk should not go.
As caulk ages, it can lose its color. Caulk is known to turn yellow with time. This effect can be aesthetically unpleasing and unsightly.
Alternatives To Caulking Bottom of Baseboards
You can use some other materials or methods to seal the bottom of skirting boards. Some will eschew the issues associated with caulking the base of skirting boards.
1) Trim Strips
Trim strips are narrow wood, metal, or plastic pieces that can cover gaps or create a smooth transition between surfaces. They are available in different sizes and, as such, can handle different-sized gaps between your floor and skirting.
In addition, they are more durable and resistant to moisture than caulk. They come in different colors, and you can buy them to match your skirting board. They are easy to install and use adhesives to stick to a surface.
2) Quarter Round
This material is a trim molding popularly used to cover gaps between skirting boards and floors. A quarter round can cover larger gaps than caulk and is more resistant to cracks and wear and tear. Materials used to make quarter rounds include medium-density fiberboard or polyvinyl chloride. It comes in various colors, meaning you may not need to paint it.
3) Shoe Molding
Shoe molding shares a lot of similarities with quarter round. However, it is usually taller. It also has a more rectangular appearance than the circular quarter round.
4) Change the Skirting
If the skirting design or installation is why you have significant gaps between the floor and the skirting board, consider replacing it altogether. This option may be more expensive and require more effort, but it could be the most comprehensive way to remove gaps between the floor and the skirting board.
Generally, well-installed skirting boards will not have any significant gaps and, by virtue, may not require you to caulk the bottom. When installing new skirting boards, the focus should be on correctly installing skirting boards. If you or a professional install skirting in space, there should ideally be little to no gaps between it and the floor. Without any considerable gap, there may be nothing to remedy.
Additionally, in caulking the bottom of baseboards, use the correct type of caulk. Not all caulk is suitable for skirting boards and your floor type. It might help to discuss the issue with a professional before you proceed to caulk the skirting board.
Whether or not you should caulk the bottom of your skirting boards depends on a few factors, such as the type of flooring, humidity levels, and size of gaps. Choosing to caulk large gaps between the floor and the skirting board is not very effective. Furthermore, caulk can hinder natural floor movement and expansion. Caulk also yellows or discolors with time.
There are alternatives to caulking the bottom of your skirting that may be more suitable in certain conditions. Some other options include trim strips, quarter rounds, and shoe mold. Although more strenuous and expensive, consider replacing the skirting if possible. Supposing you are unsure whether to caulk the bottom of your skirting boards or do not know what caulking to use. In such a situation, you might benefit from seeking professional help.
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