Caulking Tips

Caulking provides two beneficial purposes, to cosmetically enhance the appearance of a project by closing gaps and to provide a seal between two objects. It is important to press caulk into the gap rather than caulking over a gap. The benefit of pressing the caulk into the gap will help hold the two objects together when and if expansion or contraction occurs. If we were only to apply caulk to the surface without pressing, the caulk seal will break open more easily during expansion or contraction.

There are many ways to go about the process of when to caulk and the correct answer depends on many things. Generally it is best to caulk most everything before you paint. In some cases there may be a need to caulk after.

Here are a few tips about caulking. Always use a paintable caulk if you plan on painting over the caulk. I prefer and highly recommend a dripless caulk gun. Use a bucket of clean water and a clean cotton rag. Start by making one fair pass across the gap, careful not to apply too much caulk, make another pass if you need more. Using your finger, slowly apply enough pressure so the caulk gets pressed into the gap nicely. You can use the wet rag to clean up any overage, move on to the next area and repeat this process until you are certain you pressed enough caulk between all gaps.

Special note on miters: Apply a small amount of caulk over the miter gap, use your finger to press the caulk into the gap. Apply another small bead next to the gap and press it into the gap. Wipe area with a damp rag if necessary.

A few hours later or the next day, run a new bead of caulk in all the same areas only this time try not to wipe the caulk if you produce nice results, if you do need to smooth the final pass, use light pressure to smooth it out (see top photo), keep your finger wet. Cut the tip of your caulk tube small. The cut will wear larger over time and or sometimes close back up. You can reshape the hole as necessary with a razor blade.
Things to avoid:
DO NOT use Windex as a lubricant, this will soften and in some cases remove paint.
DO NOT use Silicone caulk if you plan on painting the caulk, you can use a siliconized acrylic caulk.
DO NOT use paper towels to wipe away caulk.
DO NOT allow caulk to dry on your fingers. The caulk will become difficult to remove and the dried caulk will not allow you to smooth the caulk properly.
Extras:
You can store the caulk tube when not in use upside down (tip down) in a bucket of water over night or tape the tip with masking tape

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