Caulking Tips: DIY Caulking 101

I hope you get some value from the following caulking tips and steps on how to caulk.

Caulk is a very inexpensive and versatile tool that you can use to help fill gaps in trim work and as a sealer to prevent water and damage inside and outside of your home.

There is even specialty caulks that you can use for repairing concrete, brick and even roofs/gutters.

Before I get into some specific caulking tips, it’s important to start with explaining some of the main types of caulking on the market.

You’ll find a variety of types for interior painting as well as those made specifically for exterior use – and they do come in different colors to help match the surrounding trim work or siding, etc.

Types of Caulking

If you’ve ever walked down the aisle of the Home Depot or other outlets, you can be a bit intimidated by the number of types of caulk that are available.

Basically, for home repair, we can break them down into these categories:

  • Acrylic Latex Caulk
  • Pure Silicone Caulk
  • Siliconized Latex Caulk
  • Butyl Rubber Caulk

Each of these types of caulk has a specific use and you’ll need to assess your situation and use the appropriate one.


1. Acrylic Latex Caulk

Acrylic latex caulk is a popular and inexpensive choice for most people.

It’s also referred as “painter’s caulk” and is ideal for interior use only as it doesn’t stand up to weather elements at all.

But for filling in gaps on baseboards or window and door trim, it’s a great choice.

Acrylic latex caulk dries fairly quickly and can be painted over in just a couple of hours.

It’s available in a few colors as well which is nice when you like to match the adjoining surfaces.


2. Pure Silicone Caulk

The 100% silicone caulk adheres extremely well to a variety of surfaces like tile, plastic, glass, and metal.

It’s a common choice for areas like bathrooms and anywhere there may be moisture.

Silicone caulk stays fairly flexible even after drying so won’t be prone to cracking.

A big downside to this type of caulk is that it’s NOT paintable and it’s a bit more difficult to apply.

However, that shouldn’t deter you from buying it if your job requires it.

You’ll quickly find that no other type can do its job.


3. Siliconized Latex Caulk

Siliconized latex caulk is actually a blend of the two above.

And a great choice since it can be painted and also has some silicone properties that make it more durable and waterproof.

I personally prefer this type of caulk for most of my jobs both interior and exterior when possible.

It’s easier to use than silicone and although it comes in limited colors, it is most often paintable.

If you are doing interior and exterior caulking a lot you want something that gives you flexibility. And since this one is versatile than the two above, you can go with it.


4. Butyl Rubber Caulk

A high-performance caulk that is ideal for sealing exterior gutters, corrugated roofing, pipes, aluminum and vinyl siding, lap joints, flashing, roof vents and drain spouts.

It provides an insulated, watertight seal for areas exposed to the elements.

However, it’s difficult to use and you’ll need solvents for clean up instead of just soap and water.

As long as this doesn’t take your time, then it’s a good choice like the others above.


How to Caulk Step By Step Guide

    1. Cutting the Tip – one of the best caulking tips I can give is to cut the tip of the tube correctly. It’s important to cut the tip of your caulking tube only enough to reveal a “small” hole. Take a razor blade or box cutter and cut the tip on an angle of about 30-40 degrees, which will allow it to flow better.
    2. Load Tube into Caulking Gun – simply press the lever and pull/extend the plunger rod all the way out. This will allow you then to insert the caulking tube into the channel. Push the plunger rod inwards until it hits the bottom of the tube. You’re then ready to apply the caulk.
    3. Applying the Caulk – place the tip of the caulking tube into the gap or crack and squeeze the handle until the caulk starts coming out. You’ll need to control the rate of how much caulk comes out by the pressure of the handle and the speed of moving the tube along the joint. This comes with practice of course. Move along the joint and apply a thin bead of caulk – enough to cover the gap fully. Another tip is to press the lever and pull the plunger out slightly to relieve the pressure on the caulking tube after you run your bead. This will stop any leaking of caulk at the end of the tip.
    4. Smoothing the Bead – have a rag handy and a small container with warm water and a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid in it. Years ago, a friend of mine in the window installation business gave me these caulking tips and it works great. Dip your finger into the solution and then run your finger along the bead with one steady and smooth stroke. Wipe the excess caulk from your finger with the rag. This technique should leave a very neat and clean bead!

More caulking tips for large open joints – some may require two or more applications, but it’s imperative to wait until the first is dry before applying another bead.

Caulking Tools and Accessories

Here are some of the basic tools used for applying and removing caulk. Also, check out more house painting tools here.

Caulk Remover

Caulk Remover

Caulk Applicator

Caulk Applicator

Caulk Gun


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