The art of sealing: How to caulk in 5 steps

There are a few things you should know before you begin caulking. Below are a few tips to help get you...

There are a few things you should know before you begin caulking. Below are a few tips to help get you started!

Choosing your gun

Choosing a caulk gun is largely a matter of preference. The manual models usually come in two styles, either with or without a cradle for holding your tube of caulk. If there is no cradle, there will be two stabilizing rods that run the length of the tube in order to hold it in place. The delivery system for either style gun is the same: a metal rod with a flat panel on the end that forces the caulk from the tube as you squeeze the trigger.

Choosing your caulk

There are different types of caulk out there, each suitable for different jobs.

  • Silicone: Silicone is not technically caulk but is still used in the same manner. Typically, paint won't adhere to silicone sealants, though there are some brands that do take water or oil-based paints, so be sure to check the label before purchasing or applying!
  • Polyurethane: Like silicone, polyurethane is a composite material. Polyurethane is also water-tight and weather-resistant. Unlike silicone, polyurethane can generally be painted without concern.

Silicone is not as durable as polyurethane, with regards to wear and tear in high-traffic areas. You may have noticed that you can pull at the rubbery stuff around the edges of, say, your home's windows; that's silicone.

Also, each is best applied at different temperatures and on different materials. Silicone is best applied at colder temperatures; polyurethane is not. Cold actually makes it more difficult to apply. Also, polyurethane is best applied to wood or other natural materials; silicone is best on glass, porcelain, tile, aluminum or other metals.

How to caulk

1.) Load your caulking agent into your caulk gun.

2.) Wipe down the area to be caulked with a semi wet rag in order to remove foreign debris and other agents that will interfere with the caulk's ability to seal properly.

2.) Cut off the tip of the caulk bottle. You can either slice at an angle or use a straight cut. Just remember that the size of your bead (the amount of caulk that dispensed) depends on the size of your cut.

3.) Engage the pump on your gun to begin application. Remember to apply even pressure to the trigger as you work to ensure uniform distribution.

4.) Wipe away excess caulk from both your tube and the area that you've caulked. Make sure to do this before the caulk begins to dry.

5.) And that is how to caulk. Now you just have to wait for the caulk to dry and you're all finished. Silicone usually dries fairly quickly, within an hour or two. Polyurethane generally takes about 24 hours to set.

Even with these tips, caulking can be a difficult art to master, and you may want to contact a professional in the Atlanta area if you don't want to attempt this job.

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