Asked on Jan 22, 2019

How do I prevent cracks between my stair skirt and wall molding?

Dennis Raschka
by Dennis Raschka

The builder used caulk that has cracked over time. See photo. He also feathered the caulking between the top of the skirt and molding which is not easy to keep clean with more dusting. I am removing the carpeting and redoing the trim. What is the best and easiest to clean treatment?

  13 answers
  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on Jan 22, 2019

    I'd add 1/4 round. You can wash down with soap and water.

  • William William on Jan 22, 2019

    Kelli's suggestion is the easiest solution. Add 1/4 round molding to cover the gap. Another solution would be to carefully remove the molding, a bead of cauilk on the skirt board and put the molding back pressing it against the skirt board when nailing it back in place.

  • Lisa Hunt Lisa Hunt on Jan 23, 2019

    I am not a fan of quarter round. It always looks to me like it was added as a fix or an afterthought. Maybe that is just because I know it was, lol. Since you are redoing the trim, I would recommend scraping away all the old caulking and after you put the new trim, use paintable caulk or spackle to fill in the seam (like they use when they put up drywall) and then paint over the whole thing with semi gloss paint. A lot of times, builders will use white caulk over or with white paint, so they don't get a good coat of paint over it to make it as cleanable as we would like.

  • Jan Jan on Jan 23, 2019

    Clean and scrap, use silicone calk. A small bead , smooth,let dry. Paint.

  • Lisa L Hall Lisa L Hall on Jan 23, 2019

    houses constantly shift and move due to the shifting land. I love silicone caulking. I highly suggest getting a caulking gun since this is a larger area. The little tubes are handy for something small but you want a consistent bead the length of that stairway. They have a lot of tools for this but I find that a finger works best. Put on a glove and then smooth the bead with your finger. Depending on the color on your walls and moulding, you may need to do some touchup painting.

    More than likely, you will need to repeat this process as the years in your home progress.

  • Brenda Brenda on Jan 23, 2019

    It happens because of normal settling in a home. To give it the best cosmetic fix you have to get all the paint off, seal with silicone caulk, and repaint. The silicone caulk has a little give so less of a chance to crack again with normal wear. I did the above and it worked on some stairs and not on others.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jan 23, 2019

    You cannot prevent because of settling. I would clean and caulk. I don't use any of the tools and smooth with my finger. Keep a container of water and a rag handy. I dampen my index finger and smooth out. Then wipe off and repeat.

  • Not all silicone caulking is paintable. There is a paintable product called Big Stretch. It is a lot more flexible than most caulkings. Hopefully, it will last a little longer than regular painters caulking.

  • Em Em on Jan 23, 2019

    The best way to permanently hide is with trim since you have a ledge big enough to add a small quarter round. I have this problem and even used the flexible caulking. In the winter it is dry and it still separates then expands in the summer with the moisture. Trim hides it all year long. You can purchase beautiful trim besides quarter round and even that comes in different sizes.

  • Tammy Tammy on Jan 23, 2019

    Any handy(wo)mans (pro contractor) secret weapon of choice and the one that is most budget friendly, is chaulking.

    Use a paintable white chaulking to fill in the cracks...wipe any excess off with a damp cloth.

    Just be sure that the stairs are structurally sound and not falling away from the framing before you chaulk. Then paint the stringers again.

  • Mary Mary on Jan 23, 2019

    You can cut out the old caulking and recaulk with a caulk that stretches and then as you have temperature changes it moves with it. I did this on crown that kept opening up in winter, it worked. You can also use inside corner moulding and it blends better than quarter round.

  • Gene Gene on Jan 24, 2019

    I would get rid of that upper moulding all together and just use some nice paintable base shoe. It would definately be an upgrade yo whatever that is.

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Aug 31, 2021

    it means your walls are settling so you need to clean all off and apply caulking