I've been a homeowner for six years. In my short tenure as the lord
and second-in-command of my modest castle I have learned many skills.
I have bent EMT, sweated pipe, unclogged drains, put in kitchen
cabinets, run BX, telephone and CAT5 lines through my walls, made
plaster repairs, drilled through a foot of brick, installed AC
circuits and built a couple of simple custom woodworking projects. And
I can't seem to get the hang of one seemingly simple skill: Caulking.
I see guys do it, a nice even bead, smoothed with a finger, beautiful.
When I do it it looks like some sort of kindergarten craft project
gone awry. I'm probably a little bit more inept with silicone than
with latex, but it's a subtle difference.
I used to think I was just using too much, which was true, but I still
make a lousy looking job of it with less. It WORKS, mind you, but
Don't feel too bad. There are 12 step programs for those of us who can't get
the hang of it. I can't, either, nor could the people who owned this house
before me. There are places in the bathroom where it seems they shot the
caulking from across the room. :-)
Well, I'm with you. Most times it looks bad. The only tip that I have ever
had was from a friend that is a glazer. He always pushes the tube instead of
pulling it and moves it at a constant rate depending on how big he cut the
tip. As soon as you stop you push the button on the back then wipe the tip
before you start again. His come out perfect and need very little tooling, I
think it's a practice thing. The rate that you move it seems the most
my guess is that you're cutting too much off the tip, so you have way too
much caulk because its flowing out too fast. people seem to cut that thing
so they got a hole the size of a pencil. pros can get away with this, us
lesser people cannot. cut less of the tip, leaving a smaller hole, and work
slower. i like to work with a hole about the size of a round toothpick.
They only thing that should ever touch caulk is the nose of the caulking
tube. Cut the tube on an angle with a very sharp utility knife, to a
perfect conical section, which will be an ellipse just as wide as the
widest part of the crack you are caulking. Feed just enough caulk to
fill the ellipse and tool it with the narrow end of the ellipse. Never
stop. You can slow way down, or speed up, but do not stop. Do not
hurry. Do not use too much caulk. The best caulk joint is nearly
invisible. Watch the underside of the nozzle, where you are going. Pay
no attention to where you have been, it's too late. Buy a caulking gun
with a one button pressure release, and use it every time you lift the
Breath-a in, breatha-out.
Caulk-a on, caulk-a off.
Ummm.. .very good, you!
Now, show me: SANDA DA FLOOR!
Show me: PAINTA DA FENCE!
Show me: ACAULKA DA TUB!
Ha Ha Ha - you wet behind da ears, grasshopper!
I know that the "real men" on this newsgroup will not agree with my
advise :) But, to make real nice caulk lines use masking tape. Put in on
both sides of the joint, caulk, smooth, pull off the take. Works
(perfectly) every time. Takes a bit longer, but much less time than it
takes to explain to your wife why it looks so bad when you do it the
"real guy" way.
Bob van der Poel ** Wynndel, British Columbia, CANADA **
On Mon, 17 Jan 2005 15:55:07 -0700, Bob van der Poel
So obvious, but I never thought of that. I may try some of the other
suggestions first, but I have a feeling that I have a congenital
caulking disability. The tape sounds like the crutch I need.
Forget smoothing and masking tape.
If the line looks uneven after applied, it was applied incorrectly. Secret
is to *push* caulk on, after very clean right-angle cut across nozzle with
razor. Hold the tube in both hands bisecting angle of two surfaces to caulk,
hold it almost at right angles to the caulk line but slightly obtuse angle
off vertical, so it is pointing slightly in the direction of application,
then slowly shove the nozzle forward, regulating the squeeze rate so the cut
tip passes over the just-applied buldging bead, flattening it. Get a really
high quality caulk cartridge gun - the better ones have exquisite flow
control with a big operating lever and an extra smooth operating ratchet,
and release. Squirt out caulk so that there is just enuf excess to have the
trailing side of the nozzle tip smoothe it out.
For acrylic caulk, a wet finger can be used for fine smoothing.
For silicone, you better just do it right the first time, as it is hell to
re-smoothe, and looks nasty when flattened with finger or spoon, as it is so
Also, use fresh room temperature caulk only, as it stiffens and is difficult
to apply after a fairly short time.
Genetic defect :o) I have a similar impairment. I can paint a great
looking picture, but cannot-to-save-my-life use a sash brush without the
edge wandering all over the place.
Painters tape is THE answer to caulking nice and even. There is a tool
for smoothing caulk but spit on a finger is better. I caulked
baseboards after our new tile was put down and was very, very careful to
plug tape down into grout lines so they didn't get mucked up. Helped
contain the flood that followed not long afterward when a water hose on
the washer broke. Kept baseboards from sucking up water, too.
If it is in bath, wipe joint with full-strength bleach, dry. Wipe with
denatured alcohol, dry. Tape. Caulk. Smoothe. Push the tube, don't
pull it. Pull tape right away so the edge settles. When you cut the tip
of the tube, be sure to use a very sharp knife on a cutting board, and
start too small rather than too big.
Hubby knows how to do everything but be neat. Patient as all get out.
Spent six hours one day trying to sweat on a new hose bib. Couldn't get
the steam to quit :o) I finally decided he deserved mercy - went down
to the dock, which is a tad lower, turned on the spigot to drain the
pipe. He was done in no time.
I am terrified of heights, and don't go higher than the second rung of a
step ladder EXCEPT when it came time to paint the numbers on our condo
at 2nd story level. Wasn't about to let him slop green paint on the
newly painted white building :o)
Go to the hardware store. They sell a little plastic tool that you drag
along the bead of caulk and it evens it out nicely. Costs about $4.00.
I've been using one for a couple of years, and it works great.
As someone else already mentioned, the angle of cut on the tube is important
and you have to push the caulk into the crack, not pull the tube. Also, if you
have a rough spot take a cup of water and keep your finger or spoon or whatever
wet while you try and smooth it. Just takes practice.
Some say pull it, some say push it, I say do it however works best for
you. I prefer to pull the tube as opposed to pushing the caulk. I can
make caulk look smooth and wonderful with no excess, no globbing, and
be a nice and neat as you please.
Really, it is all in the angle of the cut and what works for you.
Practice. Keep the tip of the tube absolutely clean. Keep a clean
painter's rag close at hand to keep the tip clean. If you have to
smooth a spot with your finger, spit is the best lubricant (just as it
is in certain other activities!:~) And keep that finger clean as well!
You don't know where it has been!:~)
Practice. Technique is all a matter of what works for you in
combination with the aforementioned practice.
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
Hasn't been much of a problem to me but hubby makes a mess so I try to do
the caulking and I've done loads all around the house on seams outside and
around windows, etc. since we'd had ant and water damage on the siding. I
cut the unopened caulk tube with a razor knife fairly close to the tip at a
slant at approximately the size opening as the gaps I'm caulking. I then
squeeze the caulk gun trying to have caulk come out at a rate that it fills
the gap, and I pull it across the crack at the rate that caulk will continue
to fill the gaps completely. I then smooth it with my finger and wipe
excess into more of the gap and wipe leftovers with a cloth rag I keep handy
and then continue again.
I also am good at drywall joint plastering............
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