For home improvement, DIY caulking is an essential skill that everyone should have at least a little experience in. Caulking can take care of exterior cracks, gaps between building materials, and leaks or poor fittings.
The biggest advantage to caulking is that it’s an excellent filler material. The only disadvantage is that it can be hard for beginners to achieve professional results if they don’t have the right help.
Whether you’re caulking to improve insulation, or to take care of a pest problem, make sure you read this guide first to ensure you get the best results, even if you’ve never picked up a caulking gun in your life.
What you will need
- A tube of caulk
- A Caulking gun
- A Razor Blade Scraper
- Professional Painters Tape
- Pure Alcohol Solution
Choosing your Caulk
Different caulks work best for different applications. For dry interior jobs, latex caulk is your best option. For areas that are wet or may be exposed to moisture, like bathrooms or laundry areas, go for a silicone caulk. If you’re caulking exterior cracks or gaps in fitments etc. you can go with a rubber (butyl) based option.
Prep the Area
Remove any debris from the gap using your scraper. If possible, vacuum the gap to remove any particles. If you’re re-caulking, remove the old caulk first. You can cut it out using your scraper before vacuuming the area.
Now you can use your painters tape to seal off the edges of the area that you will be caulking. This is the easiest way to ensure that you achieve a professional looking finish. The tape will prevent the caulk getting on to the surface around the gap or crack that you’re filling. You can also use the tape to control the size of the caulking joint. Generally, a thinner joint will look better, so aim for about ¼ of an inch.
Once the area is clean and taped, you can move on to applying the new caulk.
Applying the Caulk
The biggest mistake that first time caulkers make is filling the area in too quickly. Start off by cutting the end of your caulking tube and penetrating the membrane (you can cut it off with your razor blade scraper, or use a nail or sharp point to penetrate it).
Insert the caulk at around a 45degree angle, making sure that you use the gun slowly and consistently.
Once the caulk is fully applied to the cavity, you can begin smoothing out the caulk.
Smoothing the Caulk
Smoothing can be done easily with your finger, you’ll just need a little lubricant and the rags for cleaning off excess caulk. For latex caulk apply water to your fingers, or for silicone caulk use pure alcohol.
Press firmly along the edge of the caulk joint, working from one end to the other. As you move along, wipe off excess caulk from your fingers and reapply your lubricant. Keep going until you’ve smoothed over the taped area.
When the joint is smoothed off, you’ll be able to remove the painters tape carefully. The tape will leave a defined edge and the surface around the caulking will be clean of any excess, leaving a professional looking result.
Caulking doesn’t have to be difficult, you just need the correct techniques and a little patience while applying the caulk. Try out our method in your bathroom, around window fitments, or on outdoor cracks. If presentation is not a concern, you can skip the tape, but remember to stick to the rest of our tips.