Caulking is one of those things that seems pretty easy to do…but in reality it’s a big pain. It’s not very fun, glamorous, and if you need an example of this…there is no such show as Caulking With the Stars. It’s also one of those things that seem pretty mundane, and I’ve found by and large that mundane construction tasks get over looked…you know…like setting up proper scaffolding. Just because a job is boring as hell–doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Caulking is one of those things that can really tighten up your home, make a paint job look pro, keep water on the right side of a tub or shower surround, and also keep out giant insects hell bent on world destruction. Obviously Godzilla is not a Home Fixated reader.In the interest of keeping you safe from Mothra, I am going to outline the steps to proper caulking in true Tyger Wood fashion: with a pictorial.
The biggest “rookie” mistake in caulking, is cutting the end of your tube too big. You want a bead that is going to adhere both surfaces you’re going to be caulking. In my example–you can see that I’ve done nothing but make a 90 degree angle, and we’re going to pretend that is whatever needs caulk. The corner of some smooth finished drywall, a tub surround and the wall, a window and your siding. It really doesn’t matter–but start the end of your tube small, and work up. You can’t really make it smaller–yanno?
I’ve always found it good to get the flow going. Get your caulking moving out of the end, and see how much pressure you’re going to need. Warm caulking sitting in the sun will flow faster. Cold–slower. Just figure it out ahead of time, and save yourself the trouble of having it all over the place. It’s a pain to clean up. (As you can tell by looking at my caulking gun). If you are really awesome–you can make cool caulking sculptures like I did, and sell them. (Just kidding. This was the state of my caulking when I went out to my garage to take the pictures for this article. I am glad I live close to Homie D).
Start your bead just below the corner, and work slowly. The idea is to get the bead of caulk on both surfaces, and we’ll smooth it out later. It’s important to make sure the bead stays constant with no breaks so that air, water, and Mothra can’t get behind the caulk.
Once you have your bead complete–and this is optional–but I merely wet my finger and smooth the bead out. There are caulking tools available that take this out of the equation, but I’ve just found it easier to use my finger. I just read that last sentence, and again wonder why I do this. We’re smoothing the caulking out to get a good seal on both surfaces, and to make sure that we don’t have any air pockets, or breaks in the bead.
Working back toward a corner to intersect two beads such as a vertical and a horizontal bead is just a matter of putting a little extra caulking in the corner, to again ensure we have a good seal. Sealing is the name of the game. In some homes I was involved with building–we actually caulked in between studs and king studs, and bottom plates to sub-floor to achieve just that little bit of extra sealing for maximum energy-efficiency.
Caulking–while certainly not exciting, or even remotely fun–is a necessary task to putting the finishing touches on a lot of home improvement projects. With a little practice, some more time, you too can enjoy this un-fun and boring hobby!