Using caulking is a skill that anyone can learn, and it’s an essential one for sealing gaps in your home to keep drafts out, water out, and pests out. It’s also an important step in reducing your utility bills by keeping heat inside. So it’s critical to do a good job the first time. But there are some things that can go wrong, so here are a few tips to make your caulking project a success:
1. Use a new tube every time you use it; this will keep the caulk fresh and help it seal better.
This is a big deal for homeowners, since many brands have a tendency to harden in the tip, which makes them less useful and may even lead to leaks. Fortunately, most manufacturers offer replaceable tips that let you get a clean and fresh tube for your next project.
2. Cut the tip of the caulk tube at a 45-degree angle, but don’t cut off too much of it. This helps swivel your caulk gun around sinks and corners; you won’t have to worry about your gun’s tip hitting the back of the faucet or getting stuck in a tight space.
3. Always push the caulk into a gap rather than dragging it over it; this will make your caulk adhere to both surfaces better.
This rule is especially helpful when there are smooth and uneven surfaces. It’s tempting to point your gun directly in the middle of the two surfaces, but doing so creates a clumpy line that doesn’t look as neat.
4. Apply masking tape before caulking tips so that you can hide any areas where the caulk will appear.
This will keep your lines looking really clean and crisp, and it also keeps the caulk from running into areas you didn’t intend to cover with it.
5. Practice with caulk before you start a real project; this will give you a feel for the flow of the product and help you lay down an evenly beaded bead.
6. Tool the bead; this will make your caulk look more professional and will further establish good adhesion.
Depending on the type of caulk you’re using, this will be best done with a damp finger, or with a finishing tool (trowled or covered with a latex glove) and a small amount of solvent or water.
7. Don’t scrape off too much of the caulk; this will waste it, and may starve the joint of necessary material.
8. Try not to glob your caulk on the end of a long run; instead, start in one corner and work your way to the other.
9. Keep your tools clean; this is especially true of the caulk gun, which gets a lot of grime and build-up on it from the caulk that goes through it.
10. Use the right tool for the job; this will help you get a smooth bead of caulk, and it’s especially true when you’re working with latex or silicone caulk.