Seal the Deal

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

Learn to caulk like a pro by following these simple steps

Caulk reappears throughout the inside and outside of your home. It provides a wonderful solution to sealing both joints and seams around the home, and is relatively inexpensive to replace. Recaulking may seem daunting, but it is easier than you might think.

Here’s what you need to know in order to do the job correctly:

• First, buy the caulk specific to the job. If you purchase the cartridge, you’ll need a caulking gun. If you opt for the squeeze tube, you won’t need the gun. Just keep in mind that many professionals usually opt for the cartridge-and-gun combo because it helps to distribute the caulk more evenly than a squeeze tube.

• Second, prep the area. Remove the old caulk with a retractable razor-blade scraper and vacuum up any debris. Clean and dry the surface.

Then, mask off the two sides of the joint using either painter’s tape or caulking tape. Use long strips and make sure to keep them straight.

• Third, get ready to caulk. Cut the tip of the tube at a 45-degree angle with a utility knife or, if you have a caulking gun, you may be able to use the builtin cutter. Oftentimes these guns will have a hole at the top for this purpose. Insert the nozzle in the hole and pull the trigger to cut. Start at the top and cut just a little bit. Test it to see if you like the size of the bead. If it’s too small, cut again until it’s just right. After cutting, break the seal by driving a nail or wire into the nozzle hole. Your gun may also come equipped with a builtin puncture wire.

• Fourth and finally, practice making lines before applying the caulk to the area. Angle the nozzle at 45 degrees and aim for slow, smooth and continuous lines. When you’re done, smooth the joint. Use a wet finger and apply firm pressure. Then, remove the tape by pulling it away from the joint at an angle.

Once you are done, you can save the leftover caulk for future use. Cover the end with a caulk lid, which is sold separately at your local hardware store, or with a nail or screw.