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Old 02-23-2008, 05:01 PM   #1
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


We're painting some stairs in our house that the previous owners had painted a lovely shade of light purple/gray, including all the trim. The trim going up the stairs was all painted, and appeared to have been caulked between two pieces which had cracked along the edges and looked awful, besides there being so much caulk that there wasn't any kind of a right angle left. We've trimmed out all the old caulk, and are now left with some sizeable gaps between the two pieces of trim (see attached pictures) that run the entire length of the stairs. I've seen quite a few comments and tips on filling gaps between baseboards/trim and walls, and the gaps between baseboards and floors, but haven't seen anything on filling gaps between two different pieces of baseboards and trim. We would prefer not to replace the trim if at all possible. What would the best way of filling the space between the trim? Wood filler? Spackle? Caulk again? Any particular products in general? DAP?
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Old 02-23-2008, 05:30 PM   #2
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


Welcome beppygirl!

Okay, here's my 2 cents FWIW. Perhaps the staircase settled a bit over the years and created the gap which was originally filled in with painter's caulk. You could either remove the molding and lower it on the wall to where it contacts the staircase and then do all of the cosmetics - OR - fill the gap in with several applications of a good latex painter's caulk. Painter's caulk will shrink as it dries so a second and third application may be necessary. You really don't want to use anything that dries hard and then requires sanding, i.e. spackle, rock putty, wood filler, etc. Painter's caulk, once smoothed in with a damp finger dries to a nice smooth even finish and is 100% paintable.
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Old 02-23-2008, 07:53 PM   #3
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


throw a piece of 1/2" shoe molding up...any type of caulk in my opinion is going to look like garbage...

Last edited by chris75; 02-23-2008 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 02-23-2008, 09:30 PM   #4
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


That is a pretty big gap in some areas, so I don't think you will ever get a decent looking caulking job. Along the lines of chris 75, I would install a piece of trim, preferably a small ogee base cap or brick moulding, as it will look much better IMO than a shoe moulding.
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Old 02-23-2008, 09:57 PM   #5
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


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Originally Posted by troubleseeker View Post
That is a pretty big gap in some areas, so I don't think you will ever get a decent looking caulking job. Along the lines of chris 75, I would install a piece of trim, preferably a small ogee base cap or brick moulding, as it will look much better IMO than a shoe moulding.
I agree, I just used shoe as a example...
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Old 02-23-2008, 10:17 PM   #6
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


My actual hesitation in not recommending that a small strip of molding be added is that it would no doubt converge and diverge as it runs along the length of the staircase, depending upon how far away the original molding is from the staircase at any given point. The lack of parallel lines may make it more noticeable than several good neat applications of caulk would. Just thinking outside the box a bit. All good ideas though.
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Old 02-23-2008, 10:22 PM   #7
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


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My actual hesitation in not recommending that a small strip of molding be added is that it would no doubt converge and diverge as it runs along the length of the staircase, depending upon how far away the original molding is from the staircase at any given point. The lack of parallel lines may make it more noticeable than several good neat applications of caulk would. Just thinking outside the box a bit. All good ideas though.

Whats worse a somewhat uneven parallel reveal line or caulk that has shrunk and cracked?
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Old 02-23-2008, 10:40 PM   #8
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


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Whats worse a somewhat uneven parallel reveal line or caulk that has shrunk and cracked?
Speaking only for myself, I have had great success with caulking problem areas such as the one in question. But it takes time and patience. As I stated several times, it would require probably three applications to build up the line to where it was aesthetically pleasing and unnoticeable.

The first coat is unsupported and shrinks the most, naturally. The second shrinks but siince it is supported, not nearly as much as the first and the third application hardly shrinks at all.

I believe that if a good quality caulk is used and applied in layers, that cosmetic repair should last 10 years or more. But as I also hinted, the idea of adding a small strip may be as good. Now, if that staircase is "in motion", i.e. still settling, the point is moot as beppygirl may be revisiting it in either case and within a couple of years.
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Old 02-24-2008, 01:31 PM   #9
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baseboard trim gaps on stairs


If installing base shoe (or shoe base), is beyond your budget or skill level for this project, just try cleaning up the gap real good, and use a latex based white caulk.
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