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Painting Tips & Tricks: Caulking Tips

Caulking TipsOne of the least understood and most important aspects of a proper paint job as well as sealing your home, is the proper application of caulk. Many have had such bad experiences with caulk that they now avoid all contact with it; and late-night TV is filled with ads for miracle caulk tools that make caulking as simple as breathing—or at least they claim.

Proper caulking is simple, and the only tools needed are a good caulk gun, a tube of caulk, a rag or sponge, and one finger. While proper caulking may be something of an art, it’s one that can be learned in a few minutes of practice.

Caulk GunGood caulking begins with a good caulk gun, not one of the ninety-nine cent varieties. But it doesn’t have to be the most expensive either. Expect to pay about $5 for a medium quality caulk gun.

The next tip is literally the TIP of the caulk tube. Cut it at about a 45° angle; cut the hole too large and you’ll waste caulk and make a mess, too small, and sufficient caulk won’t pass through to do the job. But the size of the crack you’re filling will partially determine the size hole. For most jobs I use a hole about 1/8’’ and for larger jobs, 3/16” or more. You’ll have to experiment to determine what size works best for you and the surface on which you’re working.

Begin by holding the caulk gun at an angle to the work to be caulked. Squeeze the trigger slightly to allow for an even flow of caulk; pull the gun backwards as the caulk fills the crack. Do this for about 3’ and then release the pressure on the gun (all guns have a thumb release at the end where the rod comes out the back). Then use your finger to smooth the caulk in place. Use a wet rag or sponge to remove the excess caulk from your finger (if you applied the correct amount, you’ll have only a trace), and continue. If your joint looks clean and neat, continue; if it has too much caulk, you may wipe it with your sponge or rag. But don’t apply too much pressure or you will remove the caulk you’ve just applied. Practice, as in other tasks, does make perfect; and a little experimentation will let you join the ranks of the professionals.


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