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Home Improvement Tips For Applying Caulk

by Clare Kaufman

Repair-Home Columnist

Applying a caulk seal is a basic home improvement skill within reach for almost any homeowner. But there's more to it than squeezing a tube. With these home improvement tips, you can learn how to caulk like a professional.

As one home improvement expert puts it, applying caulk is like "decorating a cake." The trick is a steady hand and even pressure. But unlike cake icing, caulk is a sticky, quick-drying silicone substance. Here are some tips for how to handle caulk.

How to Prepare for a Caulking Project

  • Prepare the joint. Scrape away old caulk, soap scum, mildew, and debris from the seam between the fixture or countertop and the wall, using an old screwdriver. Wipe down with rubbing alcohol to remove moisture.
  • Choose the right caulk. In a bathroom, you may want to consider silicon caulk with a mildew-preventing agent. For a kitchen countertop, consider caulk with a contrasting or matching color.
  • Cut the 'right' size hole. If the hole in the caulk applicator tip is too big, you won't form a bead. Too small, and the tube builds pressure when squeezed. Caulk should flow evenly, not drip or squirt.
  • Line the caulk joints. Use masking tape to keep the silicone 'in line.'

How to Apply Caulk

  • Create a uniform bead. Test it over a trash can first. When you've found the right pressure to produce an even bead, run the applicator along the entire length of the seam.
  • Hold the tip at an angle. Also hold the tip of the caulk applicator slightly above the surface of the seam.
  • Smooth the caulk. Use your finger, a plastic spoon, or a rounded ice cube. If you are using your fingers, you may want to wear latex gloves or wet your hands with water and dish soap.
  • Fill the bathtub. If caulking a bathtub is your home improvement project, fill the tub three-quarters full of water before you begin. The weight of the water causes the tub to sag while the caulk dries, preventing the seam from cracking and breaking later. 

A Cleanup Tip: Remove silicon from your hands by rubbing them with a plastic bag.

Follow these home improvement tips, and your caulk seal can be the icing on the cake of your kitchen or bath project.


wikiHow, Caulk a Bathtub

Lowes, Using and Applying Caulk


About the Author

Clare Kaufman works as a writer and editor for an online media company. She has completed a graduate degree in English.