Mark's Caulking Tips

10-12-01Whether you're caulking siding, a bathtub or exterior doors, it's important to fill gaps completely and lay a neat caulk line. A pro, Mark Peterson, shares his tips for getting great results.
Choose the right caulk for the job
Caulks are designed for different conditions at different parts of the house. Your 10-12-02results will be better if you use the right type. The selection in the caulk aisle at home centers is mind-boggling, but actually choosing the right one is pretty simple. Most of the caulk on store shelves is basically one of four types: elastomeric, polyurethane, latex or silicone. Here’s how I make the right choice:
Siding, windows and doors: Polyurethane is my hands-down favorite. It’s paintable. It doesn’t shrink. It stays flexible. It adheres better than silicone, and it doesn’t attract dust and dirt the way silicone does.
Roofing: I like an elastomeric or rubberized product. This stuff won’t dry out in extreme conditions, and it sticks to everything.
Interior trim: If I’m sealing gaps and nail holes in trim that’s going to be painted, I always use latex. It cleans up easily and dries fast. It’s also easy to tool—and cheap.
Kitchen and bath: This is where silicone products shine. Silicone tools well. It can be purchased with antimicrobial additives, and can be easily removed and replaced when it gets grungy.
My favorite gun
10-12-03The most expensive gun on the rack isn’t necessarily the best. Here’s what I look for: I like a gun with a cradle. Tubes seem to fall out of the guns with the rails. I prefer guns with ratchet action rather than friction action. I won’t even consider a gun that doesn’t have a hook. Forget about gun-mounted tube cutters—I’ve yet to see one of them do a good job. I use a utility knife. And if all other things are equal, buy the gun with the longer tube poker. Some aren’t long enough to work on every kind of tube.
Push, don't pull10-12-04
I always try to push the caulk into the gap rather than drag it over the gap. This greatly increases the odds the caulk will adhere to both surfaces because it forces caulk into the gap—pulling doesn’t. One exception to this rule is when both surfaces are flush. When caulking flush surfaces, if you try to push the tip too hard, it will skate all over the place, and you’ll have a big mess on your hands.
Use mineral spirits to clean up elastomeric and polyurethane. Latex cleans up great with just a wet rag. Silicone is another story. It seems to get on everything. My only tip for cleaning up silicone is that when it does get all over your gloves, and it will, just consider the waterproofing it provides as a bonus.

10-12-05Cut tips off straight
You probably learned to cut the tip at an angle. That works okay in some situations, but an angled tip limits the position the caulking gun has to be in. With a straight tip, I can swivel the gun out of the way of obstacles, and I’m able to caulk right up to an inside corner. And if you have various-size gaps to fill, cut the tip small and do the small gaps first, then cut it bigger for the larger gaps. I guarantee it won’t work the other way around.
Tooling tips10-12-07
I’m not a huge fan of tooling. I try to get the bead right the first time. But sometimes it’s a necessary evil. Elastomeric and polyurethanes don’t tool well—a finger dipped in soapy water is your best bet. Latex is easily tooled, and even if you screw it up, you can wipe it off with a wet rag and start over. The only time I tape off an area is when I’m using a silicone product, and the only time I use a tool other than my finger is when I’m working with tape.
10-12-09The DAP Pro Caulk Tool Kit (No. 09125) shown in the photo is available at most home centers. And if you get your bead close to the way you want it, my best advice is to leave it alone. It seems the more I mess with a bead, the uglier it gets.
Don't use your wrists
Every golfer knows that the best way to keep a putter moving in a straight line and at a consistent speed is to control it with the upper body. It’s the same with caulking. Use your upper body, or even your legs, to move the tube along, not your wrists.
Source:  April 2012

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Atlanta Homebuyer Realty Group
2191 Northlake Parkway, Bldg11SteF
Tucker, Georgia 30084

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