How to Caulk a Joint

People often just grab a caulk gun and tube of caulk without preparing the site. This is a big mistake. If you are using a water based caulk, you need to have access to clean water. If you are using silicone caulk, you will want to have lacquer thinner available. Regardless of the type of caulk you will also want to have on hand the following items.

1 A rounding square similar to a tile grout sponge

2 rag / paper towels

3 painters tape

4 putty knife

5 utility knife

6 packing rod for deep cracks

Cutting the Tube Tip

If you don’t have a caulk gun you can get squeezable tubes of caulk at your local hardware store. Before using either type you first need to cut the tip of the tube.

A utility knife can make a clean trimmed edge. When cutting the tip, make the cut at a 30 to 45 degree angle. Always cut the tip smaller then you think you will need. You want to try to match the size of the tip opening to the crack you are caulking tring to get the opening of the nozzle about 1/16th inch smaller than the width of the crack to be caulked. Remember, you can always cut the opening larger if necessary.

Deep Cracks Need Backer Rods

If the crack you are trying to fill is greater then �¼ of an inch deep, you will want to pack the crack with filler or foam backer / packing rods. These rods can usually be found at large big box hardware stores. Filling the crack first with backer rods will help prevent cracking and shrinking of the caulk joint. A putty knife can assist you in sinking the packing rod into the crack.

Invest In A Good Caluking Gun

If you are going to be doing a lot of caulking, invest a few dollars on a caulking gun. Don’t necessarily purchase the cheapest model. You want one with a variable pressure trigger. Also, good caulk guns have a thumb lever that quickly shuts off the caulk when you have finished the joint. This keeps the caulk from continuing to exit the tube after you have finished applying the caulk to the joint.

Apply Slowly

When starting to caulk don’t rush. Take your time and apply just enough caulk to fill the crack and slightly rise up above your joint.

Caulk Several Feet and Then Stop and Smooth Your Joint

Don’t try to do more then a few feet at one time. Apply the caulk to 3 or 4 feet of crack then stop. Use a moistened finger to gently smooth the joint. Wipe the excess caulk from your finger with a paper towel.

You can use the edge of a grout sponge to help tool the joint. Lightly stroke the joint with the sponge until you are satisfied with the appearance.

Remember that if you use silicone caulks, you will need to use lacquer thinner to help clean the joint. Just put a dab of thinner on your finger to smooth the joint.

Use Painters Tape For Clean Lines

If you are concerned about the caulk getting on the outside surfaces of you job, use painters tape on both sides of the joint to protect the surface of your project from excessive caulk due to over application or wiping. Once done, carefully remove the painters tape.

Repeat as Necessary

Take your time. Do no use too much caulk, water or thinner. Try to make multiple light passes with your finger, rag or sponge. Each pass will take just a little more caulk and removes the smeared part from the adjoining surfaces. Be sure to clean you finger or grout sponge in between passes.

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