Many people do their own painting and remodeling in their home. It always sounds much easier than it actually is, but having some additional knowledge will help make whatever project you are working on so much easier. Caulk is a very important part of painting and remodeling, but using a caulking gun can be a little tricky. There are also some little secrets that can make the job look much better and make caulking so much easier!
It is important to caulk for several reasons. Caulking fills cracks and that makes your home more energy efficient. It also helps to keep small insects out. Caulk is flexible and help when different areas of your home expand and shrink depending on weather. Lastly it provides a moister barrier for areas that should not get wet and will help to prevent rot in those areas. Caulking should be done before any painting, (but can be done after some painting where cracks are missed) so that when the painting starts the caulk can either blend in or be covered up by the paint.
Tools needed include: tubes of caulk (appropriate caulk for the job at hand), caulking gun, and bucket of water, rags, step ladder, and plenty of patience
The two types of caulk that are used around the house are the Painters Caulk and the Acrylic latex. Painters caulk is inexpensive and cleans up with water; it fills cracks and can be used to smooth joint corners. Acrylic Latex can be used inside or out, cleans up with water and is fortified. For normal painting/sealing projects both of these are easy to use and easy to clean up. Past that there are several more specialty caulks including Silicone caulk that is not paintable and a little harder to use. Make sure to use the caulk that matches the area that you are working on. There are special caulks for tiles, baths, concrete, gutters and to repair a roof.
Working with caulk is pretty simple once you have mastered some basic steps. The first and most important tool is the caulking gun. When shopping for one you must not go with the cheapest one you find. A good caulking gun is one that has different parts for making the job so much easier. Look for a gun that has quick release tab at the back. This is quite possibly the most important part of the gun and makes the job a great deal less frustrating.
Two other features are the skinny metal rod that swings from the body of the gun and a hole located near the back of the gun. The metal rod is used when you first open a tube of caulk and also to open up the tube once the caulk sits for a while in between uses. The hole at the back of the gun is used to cut the very end of the caulk tube when the tube is brand new. By putting the very end of the tube in the hole you grasp and squeeze the trigger, cutting the tip off the caulk gun. (this is only done the very first time and should never be done again unless you need a bigger hole) When first inserting the end of the tube into the hole, do so at an angle and only about 1/4 inch in. If you find that the hole is to small you can continue to cut at it until you are comfortable with the size opening. Cutting too much off will have to much caulk coming out from the end and really make your job harder than it should be. Having a hole to small for the caulk to come out will be frustrating and takes to much time and energy.
Once you have cut your hole, insert the metal rod through the opening of the tube and push it all the way down. By doing this you release the caulk into the end and it will be easier to shoot it out from the gun. Place the tube of caulk into the end of the gun and slide the back down tight. Press and release the trigger several times until you see the caulk coming down the end of the tube. Once you see it you can press on the release trigger; this takes the pressure off the end and no caulk will seep out of the end. Each time you run a bead you must remember to press on the release button or the caulk will continue to run out of the end of the tube even though you are not pressing on the trigger.
Before you begin to caulk make sure to have a bucket of clean, cool water handy and an old clean rag. Using old wash cloths work very well because they are just the right size and when squeezed out they hold enough water to make the caulking go so much easier. You don’t want to completely squeeze all water from the rag but you don’t want it dripping either. Make sure that in big caulking projects you change your water.
You might find that pushing the caulk bead works best for you. Most people find that pulling the bead works best. Start at one side of the crack and work a short distance down the crack. Once you get within reach stop the bead and release the pressure from the tube. Put the caulk gun down and pick up your wet rag, dragging it down the center of the bead, bringing any extra caulk with it in the rag. By doing this it pushes the caulk deep into the crack and creates a fine, neat line. You might have to repeat the process once you have rinsed your rag out. You can do it several times to wipe up any excess and blend the caulk into the crack against the wall.
Once you have finished caulking you can let the caulk dry slightly or all the way. Read the instructions on the tube to be sure that you are doing what they recommend. Sometimes the caulk just needs to dry enough so that there is a thin film on the top and you can begin painting. After putting the first coat of paint or primer on you can go back and re-caulk the places that stand out or you have missed. Most people use white caulk but it comes in all types of colors and also clear. Picking whatever color is closest to the project at hand is a personal decision.
Caulk can be your best friend in an old house or new construction. Once you do it you will find that it makes the job your doing look much nicer and neater. You can’t over caulk so don’t be afraid to keep going and caulk any area where you hate seeing those unsightly cracks!