Using a caulk gun is simple, right?

Yes, it is, but I am amazed at how frequently I see people do it wrong. A few simple things can make the difference between nobody noticing the caulk is there and an expensive mess.

Without further ado, here are some of the most common mistakes made when caulking:

  1. What a mess. Typical of spout cutters.

    Never use the spout cutter on your caulking gun. Ever seen someone do this? Usually they put the tip of the tube in the hole, squeeze to cut, and then end up wrenching the tube back and forth hoping to actually cut the tip. It inevitably looks like somebody chewed on the tip of the tube and results in an ugly, uneven bead of caulk that requires a lot of time and effort to correct.

  2. Don't let this happen to you.

    Using a utility knife, cut the tip of the tube at a 45 degree angle. You are not trying to mimic the end of a tube of toothpaste with a flat tip. Toothpaste does a good job of laying a cylinder of paste on your brush – you do not want a cylinder of caulk on your window trim. You want a bead that melds into the frame (floor, baseboard, what-have-you) almost invisibly. (Generally, in fact, you are aiming for invisibility of the caulk.)

  3. 45 degree angle on tip of tube. edit Delete caption

    Cut only a SMALL amount of the tip off, about 1/8″ for most applications. I regularly see people cut off significant portions of the tip ‘o the tube – that results in a very large bead of caulk coming out making, in most cases, a big mess.

  4. “Slow and steady wins the race.” You don’t want to emulate the turtle, but you don’t need to pretend you’re a rabbit in a muscle car either. Move slowly, see how the bead is coming out as you move and adjust accordingly.
  5. Squeeze the handle gently. More is not better in most cases. Caulking is not a muscle intensive activity nor is it a way to show off strength. You can always add more caulk easily, but removing the mess left after you’ve used an entire tube of caulk on one window is not easy.
  6. Use your finger to smooth the bead of caulk, again at a 45 degree angle. You don’t need to jam your finger into that crevice – you just need to make the caulk there smooth. This is especially important when using fire-block caulk in applications around chimneys, caulking top plates, etc. so the caulk gets into those gaps, not for aesthetics. Some people prefer to use a damp sponge, wrap rags over their fingers, etc. That doesn’t work for me, but I’ve seen others do it well.

All too frequently I see people put way too much caulk down, usually quickly and with a heavy hand, and then spend five minutes trying to remove the excess caulk because they haven’t followed the above rules.

That’s not a good use of your time or resources. Go slowly laying as little as is needed. When you run your finger over that bead afterward you’ll have far less on your hand and more caulk left in the tube for the next application.

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4 Responses to Using a caulk gun is simple, right?

  1. King of Caulk says:

    We like everything you say about caulk. Unfortunately, you left out the most important part of caulking: check your caulk!!! So many times, We see people spend a lot of time caulking and yet when We look at their work, there is still a crack in places. The purpose of caulking is to fill the crack. If you don’t check the crack, you don’t know if you’ve succeeded in filling it. If you check it and you missed something (real easy to do), just fill what you missed. You would think this is obvious but people miss this point constantly.

    King Jason
    King of Caulk

  2. King of Caulk says:

    One other very important caulking tip: a clean surface will make the caulk last longer. We recommend a dust brush and a tack cloth before applying caulk.

    The King of Caulk

  3. paul tammaro says:

    just a couple of points: 1. Caulk has a shelf life of 6 months for best use 2. Make sure you use the right caulk for outside use UV rated 3. I liked all the info

  4. Pingback: 21 Ways How to Revamp Old Furniture #1 | Furniture Idea

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