Caulking is needed for many common home improvement projects. Caulk can fill gaps when installing moulding or when weatherizing a door or window. Caulk is also used to seal showers, bathtubs and sinks. HomeDepot.com explains the steps to property caulk a surface.
A good caulking job starts with a clean surface. Take the time to remove any existing caulk to help ensure a good seal. Use a utility knife, razor blade, putty knife, or scraper. Remove all paint, dirt, dust, grease, and debris. Use a rag to wipe the joint surface with rubbing alcohol or an over-the-counter disinfecting spray. Then rinse thoroughly with water and dry.
Caulking with tape along the surface will help produce an attractive finish. Apply painter’s tape to mask off areas around the joint where the caulk should not appear. This will give you a straight line of caulk and will improve the final appearance.
Caulk is available in hand-held squeezable tubes or rigid plastic cylinders that require a caulk gun to push out the material. A squeeze tube is recommended for small projects, such as sealing a bathroom sink. See Step 6 for caulking tips when using a caulk gun for larger projects.
Some squeeze tubes may have a seal under the nozzle cap that will need to be removed or punctured before use. Follow the instructions on the tube and carefully cut the nozzle using scissors or a utility knife with a sharp blade.
A line of caulk is called a “bead” and the width of bead is determined by where the nozzle is cut. To create a narrow bead, cut the nozzle close to its tip. For a wider bead, trim off more of the nozzle.
No matter how wide your caulk bead needs to be, cut the nozzle at a 45 degree angle. You will be applying the caulk with the tube at an angle, so cutting the nozzle on a slant will help get a smooth bead.
Using a caulk gun is the easiest way to apply caulk. Insert the cartridge into the gun frame and make sure it’s snug and secure. Press the release at the back of the caulk gun and adjust the rod so the plunger is fully extended. Place the nozzle at a 45 degree angle where the sink and countertop meet. Grasp the tube and squeeze with enough pressure to force the caulk into the joint. At the same time, steadily draw the nozzle along the joint. Apply steady pressure to the trigger or tube, and fill the gap with an even bead of caulk.
For a neat and professional-looking finish, “tool” or smooth the bead of caulk after sealing the joint. Lightly drag a caulk finishing tool over the bead to smooth it. Alternatively, you can simply use your finger. Moisten your fingertip in warm soapy water and drag it with light pressure along the length of the bead.
Whichever method you use, the overall goal is to smooth the bead and not to remove excess caulk.
If caulking with tape to mask the area around silicone caulking, remove the tape before the caulk starts to set. To remove the masking tape, lift the end and pull up at a 45 degree angle, away from surface.
Wipe away excess caulk with water and a damp cloth before the it dries. Regular caulk fully dries or cures in about 24 hours. Quick-curing products are also available. To remove excess dried caulk, use a putty knife to cut or scrape it away.
For more information, including additional caulking tips, visit homedepot.com.
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