The subject says most of it, and I'm hoping the assembled wisdom here
will forgive me if it's OT for the group.
In my work, I install basement egress windows, which we make from vinyl
composite materials. The windows are replacements or upgrades, going into
foundations which can be of almost any age. Frequently, I have to caulk
the join between our smooth composite frame, and the ragged parging on
the exterior foundation wall, bridging gaps which can vary from 1/8 or
less, to more than 3/8" or more, often in a single run. I have yet to
find a way of running a good, clean bead, and when I try to tool the
result, the mess gets worse. I've alreadfy decided to buy myself a
dripless gun, but I'd be more than grateful for suggestions about pull/
push, angled vs. square cut tip, and any other thoughts you may have.
It takes a LOT of practice to get really good at it. I have myself and one
guy then do all the difficult caulking against bricks, rock and on faces m
asonry, etc. My other guys and none of my subs but my painter can lay a con
sistently sized bead that is nearly perfectly smooth.
In fact, my work was just barely presentable for years until I had a painte
r that was working for me help me get the hang of it. I caulked a lot for p
ractice just to waterproof and filling cracks in areas that wouldn't be see
n, and I do mean //a lot// before I could turn out really presentable work
that would be considered professional appearance grade.
Ymmv of course, but make sure you buy a good quality caulk gun and good qua
lity caulk or you won't stand a chance at a good job.
On Monday, November 27, 2017 at 4:46:46 AM UTC-5, email@example.com wrote:
e guy then do all the difficult caulking against bricks, rock and on faces
masonry, etc. My other guys and none of my subs but my painter can lay a c
onsistently sized bead that is nearly perfectly smooth.
ter that was working
If someone helped you get the hang of it, then it's not only about the prac
tice. There must have
been tips and techniques passed on from the other person. Can you share wha
t he shared?
On Monday, November 27, 2017 at 5:54:58 AM UTC-6, DerbyDad03 wrote:
one guy then do all the difficult caulking against bricks, rock and on fac
es masonry, etc. My other guys and none of my subs but my painter can lay a
consistently sized bead that is nearly perfectly smooth.
inter that was working
actice. There must have
hat he shared?
Some of the pointers posted already are valid. Some are not. Don't want t
o start a war, so I will tell you what works for me.
First, squeeze the caulk in the tube at the store. Some caulks go bad rapid
ly, or worse, are stored and handled improperly. I have had caulks in my st
orage that have gone bad in just a few months, in my tool box, about three.
Unless it is the old fashioned paper tubes, the tubes for most sealers ar
e plastic and should be pretty easy to squeeze and feel some movement.
Don't buy cheap caulk. Cheap caulk manufacturers use equipment that can int
roduce air bubbles into your caulk, and if you are pressed into putting a s
ingle pass, "no touching, no smoothing bead" you are screwed as the bubble
will leave a hole.
Don't buy cheap caulk guns, or the really heavy duty guns. The cheap ones
flex too much for you to get a good even squeeze on grip to discharge an e
ven bead. The heavy duty caulk guns are actually for adhesive applications
and push out the material tube too aggressively. Buy a medium priced gun
with a quick release tab under the compression rod. The quick release tab
works much better than the "no drip".
A few issues I didn't understand. First, the cut of the tub point must be
CLEAN. Second, the cut needs to expose the exit hole to be not much larger
than the crack/crease to be filled. Third, I put too much material on. F
ourth, I didn't understand when to move fast or move slow.
So, cut the tip of the tube with a very sharp knife, box cutter, etc. The t
ip should be perfectly smooth and anywhere from about 30 to 45 degrees. I c
ut the heavier angles when I am caulking areas I have a hard time seeing th
e bead (windows, walls, etc.) but less shallow for horizontal surfaces wher
e I am directly over the work. If you are caulking 1/8", then you should h
ave an exit hole on the tip about the same. If you simply whack the end of
f the tip you will almost always put on too much material. Yet, I see guys
hack a chunk off the tip and leave a big wide bead over a small crack. If
the crack is irregular, caulk the small end first, cut the tip as needed t
o get to the wider sizes.
Put as little caulk on as needed, let the material flow out of the tube. Pr
oper application is a combination of getting material out of the tube and u
sing the tip to push it into the crack. On smooth surfaces (like cracks on
inside walls, siding trims, etc.) I squeeze the gun hard and move fast. W
hen caulking cracks in bricks and mortar, etc., I have the hold cut to the
proper diameter and almost seal over the crack very slowly, leaving the cau
lk behind, level to the adjoining surfaces.
Cracking the irregular surfaces won't be so bad if you have the right amoun
t of caulk coming out of the gun and then work slowly with an even amount o
f pressure. If you are applying properly you won't need much tooling. But.
.. stuff happens. I use a wet finger, cleaned frequently with a wet rag. O
n really fine corners (like a kitchen cab refinish) I use my fingernail and
apply enough pressure to cut the caulk into the corners. Don't use soap.
If you have to put another coat of caulk on top of the existing, you have
fouled the surface so it won't stick. Likewise, paint won't stick to soap
either. Also, the sticky residue you leave behind can get sticky and attra
More than anything since today's caulks really stick well, practice on thin
gs that aren't appearance grade. Caulk can be impossible to get off of dif
ferent surfaces so practicing on things you and others will see can be taki
ng a pretty good chance.
On 11/27/17 3:46 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I like to think I've gotten pretty durn good at caulking over the years.
Like you said, all it takes is doing it a LOT to get the hang of it.
You also must be prepared with your clean-up materials, keep a "wet"
finger, and go fast and confident when finishing the bead.
However, laying silicone down in a corner with a very rough surface
against a smooth surface is certainly the litmus test to prove one's
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
On Sunday, November 26, 2017 at 4:27:40 PM UTC-8, Colin Campbell wrote:
A bit of molding (wood or vinyl) can be scribed against a rough surface, then
carved to fit and level (and make the gaps narrow and uniform).
A diamond blade can cut a slot in masonry, there has to be a clever way to use
that. Something that blocks the caulk entry and makes an easy-fo-fill shallow gap.
Doesn't matter where I heard it, I guess, but with the acrylic/silicone
caulk, dip your finger in a bit of water with dish washing soap mixed
in. AND use paper towels or. . . to keep that finger smooth and slick
and not gunked up.
On 11/27/17 8:01 AM, Unquestionably Confused wrote:
I keep a "just rung-out" shop towel in my tool belt or hanging out a
A dry shop/paper towel to get the bulk of the excess caulk off the
finger, then down to my pants leg (work pants are perfect for it and the
latex comes out in the wash), then a swipe on the wet towel before
smoothing the next line.
The trick is (as in painting) keep all dried caulk off your finger, like
Once dry caulk mixes with wet caulk, all hell breaks loose. :-)
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
replying to Colin Campbell, Iggy wrote:
Against smooth surfaces no problem, of course. But, stucco and the sort either
has to go DadiOH's or Whit3rd's way. But, if you can get tape to stick
temporarily, it helps a lot to avoid catches on the sharp stuff and when the
tape's removed a clean edge is left. Just make sure you're using Backer Rod and
not caulking more than a 1/4" deep.
If one wants to take the time to mask, it will certainly help tremendpusly.
Getting tape to stick to stucco or other rough surface can be iffy though.
I press the tape on with my fingers then lay a dry kitchen sponge on it and
whack the sponge with a rubber hammer...place sponge...whack...move
sponge...whack...etc. The sponge will deform to conform to the irregular
surface and press the tape tightly against it.
use gloves and work it by hand
also do not buy cheap caulking
made the mistake with no shrink caulking that has since shrunk
there are too many options to bother suggesting one
the best thing to do is go to a local supplier and not a big box
and talk to informed staff about your application
or research it yourself
doing both is best
One thing that I found helps when there are gaps that vary, such as you
describe, is the use of backer foam. The backer foam, when set below the
surface a bit, allows the caulk to lay into the gap much more evenly than it
does when trying to fill in big wide gap with just caulk. In extreme cases
I've used different diameter backer foam for different areas of the gap...
For example: https://www.homedepot.com/s/backer%2520foam?NCNI-5
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