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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Caulking Basics

Today I was helping some homeowners in the Courtside subdivision in Brentwood. They have their home on the market and wanted to take care of some trim joints that need re-caulked after a few years of humidity and possibly some settling. They had beautiful crown moulding throughout the entire home, but most of it looked like this:

I thought I'd cover some of the basics of how I handle caulking. First, it helps so much to have a great caulk gun. The last time I bought one I splurged and bought the heavy duty one. Boy, am I glad that I did!

For one, the handle is solid so it will never bend from use. There's nothing more annoying than a cheap bent handle on a caulk gun! :) It also has a clipper to take off the end of the spout as well as a little 'poker' to break the seal with. No more searching through the nail pouch for something else to break that seal.

Basic Steps to a Good Caulk:
1. Make sure you have the right caulk for the job. It amazes me how many types there are, but they are designed for a specific purpose and it's best to use them accordingly.

2. In addition to the caulk gun, I take a roll of paper towels, an old cardboard box, and my index finger.

3. For trim caulking, I trim off less than 1/4" of the spout. Any more, and you'll likely have way too much to deal with.

4. Use the least amount of pressure on the handle to get the caulk you need out. If you over-squeeze too much will come out again. The key is to stay in control of the caulk... Run it along the joint.

5. Use your finger to smooth the caulk into the joint and remove the excess. Wipe your finger often with paper towels to keep it relatively clean. This is key to not making a mess. Plan to use lots of paper towels. For tight spots like inside corners of crown moulding, I take some fresh paper towel to get the excess out and make the joint look sharp.

6. Use the cardboard box to deposit the used paper towels or to set the gun down. This is mainly important if you're in a finished space like I was today. You don't want to accidentally leave a pile of caulk on the carpet.

BIG TIP OF THE DAY: After you apply your bead of caulk, quickly hit the 'switch' to release the pressure on the caulk tube. This is the secret to stopping the caulk from coming out when you don't want it to. Before I figured this one out, I'd waste more caulk than I would use. Now that you know the secret, I guess you're in the caulking club.

There's really not much to it. Like anything else, take it easy and watch where you point that gun.


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