Small details can make a big difference when it comes to home improvement. Just one added step can totally transform the look of a room, such as staining or painting caulk to help it blend in with your floorboards.
So, can you stain caulk? Yes, you can stain caulk. Use a stainable caulk and solid stain. Avoid using caulk that doesn’t specifically say it’s stainable, as well as transparent or semi-transparent stains. Apply with a paintbrush after the caulk has fully dried. For best results, apply multiple layers.
Not every type of caulk can be stained, and not every type of stain works on caulk. You’ll have to ensure you have the right materials to get the job done.
What Is Caulk Used For?
Caulk is a type of material that is used to seal air gaps between a stationary part of a building and the materials applied to it. For example, it’s used to seal the air gap between a bathtub and the wall.
The air gaps that are usually filled with caulk are less than ¼” wide, so it’s used for very small areas.
Caulk is typically used in bathrooms to avoid moisture getting into the air gaps and developing mold in your walls. However, it can also be used to seal air gaps between baseboards and the wall or floor.
These areas are important to fill to prevent mold growth from moisture, as noted above, or to prevent the areas from getting exceedingly dirty with dirt, dust, or other small particles.
It can also help prevent insects from setting up their homes in the nooks and crannies of your home.
Caulk Vs Wood Filler
Caulk and wood filler are sometimes used interchangeably, even though they’re very different products for different jobs. As we mentioned, caulk is used to seal air gaps between materials and a stationary building component.
Wood filler, on the other hand, is used to fill holes or divots in wood. This is commonly used to fill in nail holes or natural imperfections in the wood.
While caulk is designed to be flexible so it can shrink and expand with the changes in temperature, wood filler will dry hard. It’s made to be sanded and either painted or stained, depending on the type you purchase.
You’ll have an easier time finding stainable wood filler than you will finding stainable caulk, so don’t get confused and purchase the wrong product.
If you’re looking to fill in some gaps around your house, caulk is the right choice. If you’re looking to fill in nail holes or imperfections in wood, use wood filler.
Supplies For Staining Caulk
Not all caulk can be stained, so before you decide to dive into this DIY home improvement project, make sure you have the right supplies on hand.
Stainable caulk can be hard to find. Not all caulk is stainable, and you’ll have an easier time finding caulk that’s paintable rather than stainable.
We recommend going to your local hardware store and asking for stainable caulk. Describe your project and ask for their best product recommendation.
From there, you’ll need to also us a solid stain. Transparent or semi-transparent stains don’t do well because the caulk will still show through. You want a solid coverage to hide the caulk material.
To prevent some of your stain from smudging onto the adjacent wall, it’s best to tape off the section with painter’s tape or use a ruler as you apply.
How To Stain Caulk
With the right materials on hand, you’re ready to get started.
- Apply your caulk to the air gaps as desired. Make sure you apply according to label directions. Allow to fully cure.
- Once the caulk has fully dried, you can either sand it or get started staining. Whether or not you need to sand depends on the type of caulk you’re using.
- Using a small paintbrush, being painting the stain onto your caulk. Apply an even layer as you go, taking precautions to avoid getting the stain on the wall.
- Once the first layer of stain has fully dried, go back and add another layer of stain. Two layers is usually best, but add a third layer if you think your caulk needs it.
That’s it! Once you have everything you need, the actual process of staining caulk is quite simple.
Be sure to take a good look to ensure there are no spotty areas that may need touch ups. Sometimes there are areas that don’t dry correctly or didn’t get enough stain, so add a little extra stain to any areas that need a touch up.
Remember that this won’t work for every type of caulk. Talk with a qualified professional to get the best product recommendation.
If staining the caulk doesn’t work, you may have to use one of our recommended alternatives as listed below.
Alternatives To Staining Caulk
Sometimes, it can be better to try an alternative rather than staining caulk. Since not all caulk takes stain well, it could be a good idea to try something different.
Your first option is to use colored caulk. This is caulk that already has a tint to it, rather than trying to add a tint after the caulk has been applied and cured.
You can find colored caulk in a lot of traditional wood colors. They start light and go dark, with many shades in between.
Although stainable caulk can prove hard to find, tinted or colored caulk is not. Simply search for it online or scan the shelves at your local hardware store.
This is a great solution because it doesn’t involve any extra steps, such as staining or painting over the caulk.
Instead, you get the right color from the first application. As soon as the caulk is applied and cured, you’ve got a great looking invisible seal on your air gaps.
If you’re not finding a colored caulk in the right shade for your wood, it may be easier to match paint.
There are plenty of options for paintable caulk on the market. Just make sure you double check the entire label to confirm that it can be painted over.
Rather than trying to color match caulk to your wood baseboards, you can instead use leftover paint from your walls to paint over the caulk. This will ensure maximum color matching since you would use the same paint.
Some paintable caulk needs to be sanded and others are ready to paint right over, so consult the label instructions or talk with your local hardware professional to confirm the best process.
Since you’ll be painting instead of staining, make sure you protect your wooden baseboards while you apply the paint. Cover them with painter’s tape or hold a ruler against the baseboard as you go to prevent errant paint splotches on your baseboards.
Be sure to allow enough time for it to dry and add multiple layers as necessary. Once finished, it should blend right into the walls.
Another alternative option to staining caulk is to use clear caulk. Caulk is typically found in white or clear. White caulk can stand out if not used in white spaces, but clear caulk can seem invisible.
Using clear caulk can help you disguise the caulk without taking any extra steps like staining or painting.
Keep in mind this may not be the best option for all gaps. If you have a larger gap, it will likely be more obvious that you had to fill it if you use clear caulk. It may still appear like a dark air gap, even though it’s filled.
We recommend using clear caulk on small gaps in unnoticeable places.
Can You Mix Stain With Caulk?
While you can technically try to mix stain with caulk, it likely won’t lead to desired results. Some people have reported success with staining caulk this way, but it can be difficult to do and end up being quite messy.
Often, the stain and caulk don’t mix as expected, so you don’t get the results you were going for.
There are some caulks designed to be colored, but you’ll need to make sure you purchase the right type of caulk and the right type of color to mix in it.
It’s best to either stain the caulk after it has been applied and cured or use one of the alternatives listed above.
Can You Color Caulk?
You can sometimes color caulk, but it depends on the type of caulk you purchase. You’ll need to find a caulk that is designed to have other additives mixed in, as we mentioned above.
The better option is to simply purchase caulk that is already colored. There are several brands that create lines of colored caulk in various wood shades to match your baseboards.
If you’re trying to match a colored paint instead, then try to find some of those caulk products that are part of kits with colored additives to mix in.