A perfect bead of caulk - is there a way?

How do you archieve a perfect bead especially when you have to work around faucet handles?
I find silicon caulk easier to work with than latex.
I guess my approach is to tape the two edges (like painting it), and then apply the caulk and let the caulk mess up as I go around fittings and then use my finger to smooth it out. If I end up squeezing some to the edges then let the tape take care of it.
Still it is a hit and miss, especially for lstex caulk when I have to remove the tape later it pulls the bead with it some. Silicon seem to do better. Are there any fool-proof technique to laying out a perfect bead of caulk?
Thanks,
MC
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I've used the masking tape before, and found that pulling the tape off immediately after smoothing the bead will actually work fairly well rather than waiting for the bead to partially cure.
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"miamicuse"> wrote

Practice, practice, practice. Your hand/fingers have to get in tune with the gun and the surface. It helps if the tip is not cut too short, causing the bead to be too wide. My brother is a master at this stuff. I saw him do a bead one time when he was standing on a ladder, he went from as far as he could on the left to as far as he could on the right, about an 8' run and it was perfect. It was like watching magic.
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miamicuse wrote:

Yep. If you like working with silicone caulk you can lay down the bead of caulk, spritz the surface with a spray bottle of water with a few drops of dish soap in it. the caulk won't stick to the wet surface so you'll be able to tool (finger? sounds dirty to me!) the caulk.
If you use tape, use the same method - pull the tape immediately after smoothing the caulk, spritz, re-smooth the caulk to make the edges that were pulled up with the tape lie back down, done.
R
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MC,

I find the way to achieve the best results is to use a caulk (usually latex) that claims "water cleanup". Choose a color that best matches the area where it's being applied.
Squirt the caulking in as neatly as you can, then press it into the gap and smooth it out with your finger. Doesn't need to be perfect.
Then, take a bucket of water and a sponge. Get the sponge wet, but wring out most of the excess water. Wipe up the excess caulk, rinse, and repeat as much as needed. If you accidently wipe out too much caulk, just add more and repeat the process. With a little practice, you can tool the caulk perfectly with the damp sponge.
You'll end up with picture perfect caulk joints every time!
When caulking outdoors, I like to use a polyurethane caulk that is "paintable". My main goal here is to get a SMOOTH joint, again, it doesn't have to be pretty. Pay attention to detail when you paint, and it'll look perfect.
For situations where I can't paint the joint, and the water cleanup trick won't work, I use clear caulking. Much harder to see goofups where the bead didn't turn out so perfect. Also nice when you have to caulk under a flange or something then "Squish" it into place. :)
If you have large gaps, fill them with foam "rope" before caulking. You'll use much less caulk, and the cured caulking will be able to flex better.
Anthony
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