How to Caulk Like a Professional
Time Required: Under 2 hours
Caulking is one of the most common home improvement projects. Caulk is easy to apply whether you’re sealing a shower, bathroom tub or sink, repairing flashing on a roof, weatherizing a door or window, installing crown moulding or painting a room. This guide will give you step-by-step directions on how to caulk around a bathroom sink. You’ll learn about the how to remove old caulk and how to apply caulk correctly.
Tip: Caulk is available in squeezable or rigid plastic tubes. We recommend squeezable tubes for small projects. For larger projects, use larger tubes and a caulk gun.
You can apply new caulk over old caulk, but it may not stick. A good caulking job starts with a clean surface.
- Cut old caulk out with a utility knife or scraper.
- Remove all dirt, dust, grease and debris. If you’re removing silicone caulk, ensure all residue is completely removed.
- Use a rag to wipe the joint surface with rubbing alcohol or an over-the-counter disinfecting spray. Rinse thoroughly with water and dry.
Tip: If the gap you are caulking is greater than ½ inch, press a foam tape into the space.
A line of caulk is called a “bead”. The further up you cut the nozzle, the smaller the bead. Reversely, the further down you cut the nozzle, the wider your caulk line will be.
- Read the instructions on the caulk bottle for how to cut the nozzle. Some nozzles have a foil seal that will need to be punctured, and some nozzles also need to be removed to trim an inside seal.
- If using a squeeze tube, remove the cap and then trim the nozzle with scissors.
- For rigid plastic tubes, use a utility knife to cut the tip of the nozzle off at a 45-degree angle.
- If using a rigid plastic cartridge, place the cartridge in the caulking gun.
- Apply steady pressure to the trigger or tube and fill the gap with an even bead of caulk.
- It is best to push the caulk ahead of the nozzle to ensure that it gets into the joint for a proper seal.
For a neat and professional-looking finish, “tool” or smooth the bead of caulk. Lightly drag a caulk finishing tool or putty knife over the bead to smooth it.
- If you used painter’s tape, remove the tape before the caulk “skins over” (meaning that the product has developed a firm skin on the surface, which normally occurs after a few hours).
- To correctly remove the tape, lift the edge up at a 45-degree angle away from you.
- Caulk usually dries in about 24 hours. Wipe away excess caulk with water and a damp cloth before the it dries. Excess dried caulk will need to be cut or scraped away.
Tip: Some clear caulks will apply white and dry clear in seven to 14 days, depending on humidity and temperature. To reuse any remaining caulk on a future project, tightly reseal the cartridge and store within the manufacturer's recommended temperatures.