Professional Caulking and Silicone tips.

PROFESSIONAL CAULKING AND SILICONE TIPS

Caulking seems like a pretty easy thing to do, and all in all, it is. But there are some caulking tips of the trade that can make a big difference between a smooth, hassle-free caulking job. So before your next caulking project, here are a few things to keep in mind.

GATHER UP A FEW SIMPLE TOOLS

First of all, you’ll need a good-quality Svenic caulking gun. The action is much smoother, and it’s also easier to release, so you have less wasted caulk dripping out of the tube.

In addition to the caulking gun, you’ll need a paddle pop sticks, microfiber cloth, a utility knife, old carpet and a spray bottle with detergent and water mixed. If you have large gaps to fill, you’ll also need some open cell foam backer rod, as described below.

PREPARE THE JOINTS

First of all, you need to prepare the areas that you’re going to be caulking. Like anything else, if the area is dirty, dusty, wet or filled with debris, you won’t get the results you want. Use a brush, putty knife, compressed air, or other appropriate tools and techniques to clean out the cracks you want to caulk.

The manufacturer’s directions on the caulking product you’re using will specify how large of a gap that particular caulk will fill without sagging — typically 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch in width. If you try to fill anything wider that what the caulking is rated for, it will simply sag into the gap or the caulk film will split; either way, it means an unsightly caulking job that’s not weather tight.

The solution is to use what’s known as a backer rod. This is simply a round foam rod, which is sold by the roll in different diameters. Use a rod that’s slightly larger in diameter than the gap, so that it compresses into the opening. Cut the rod to the desired length, then press it into the gap so that it’s slightly below the surrounding surfaces. You can then caulk the gap on top of the backer rod, without worrying about the caulk sagging into the gap.

A FEW SIMPLE TECHNIQUES

One of the easiest ways to ensure that the caulking bead isn’t too large and sloppy is to start with a small bead in the first place. To do that, use your utility knife to cut the end of the caulking tube to create an opening that’s no larger than the bead you would like to produce. Also, cut the tube at an angle, rather than straight across. A small, angled opening in the tube will produce the cleanest, easiest-to-control caulking bead.

To apply the caulk, start at one end of the gap you’re trying to caulk, then pull the gun toward you as you gently squeeze the trigger. Getting a clean bead is a matter of the right combination of trigger pressure and gun speed, but it doesn’t take much to master the technique.

As you start to approach the end of the bead, let up on the trigger pressure, and as you come to the end, press the release button to relieve the pressure on the tube and stop the caulking flow. There’s often still going to be a slight flow of caulk out of the end of the tube even when you release the pressure, so have a piece of carpet available to set the gun on and allow the excess to drip back in there.

There are different knifing tools available for smoothing the fresh bead, but to be honest a paddle pop stick is perfect for a smooth finish. It will give a detail to whatever angle you need.

Keep a damp rag with you at all times. It’s the only way to keep your hands, your equipment, and any adjacent surfaces clean. If you remember to do both, you’ll find that your entire caulking project runs a lot smoother, and everything stays a whole lot cleaner.