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Rich Escallier offers prompt, professional,
efficient, and reasonably-priced solutions
to home repairs and remodeling.

Caulking 101

Materials
  • Razor blade or painter's 5-in-1 tool to remove old caulk
  • Dripless caulk gun (worth buying if you're not sure whether your caulk gun is dripless)
  • Clean rag
  • Old magazine or Sunday section of newspaper (something with shiny paper)
  • Toilet paper
  • Small dish or saucer with liquid soap (to break the surface tension of the caulk)
  • Silicone tub and tile caulk -- GE Silicone I (available at the True Value at 4305 N. Milwaukee Ave.) is the absolute easiest to work with. GE Silicone II will also work.
  • Caulk Rite caulking tool -- this inexpensive (approx. $5) tool is the secret to a good caulk job. It's hand-held and has a triangle that acts like a Squeegee.
 
Preparation
  • Remove all of the old caulking and any other loose debris. (This is the toughest part of a caulking job.)
  • Treat the open area with a 10% to 20% bleach solution to kill any mold; use a rag.
  • Wipe clean of any debris. Vacuum the crack if your vacuum cleaner has a hose attachment.
 
Technique
  • Open the magazine and place it in the tub. Have a dish of soap, the Caulk Rite tool, and toilet paper handy.
  • Open the caulk and practice with scraps of wood or metal shaped like a corner. The faster you go with the caulk gun, the more even the caulk will be. Holding the Caulk Rite tool perpendicular will give you a small bead; holding the tool lower to the tub will give you a fatter bead (and cover larger defects if there are any).
  • Caulk the joint by pulling from a¬†corner to the middle¬†and forcing caulk into any space under the tiles.
  • Put your caulk gun down on the magazine.
  • Dip the Caulk Rite tool in soap; this will make the tool slide easier.
  • Put the tool in the corner and pull toward the center of the wall. At the end of this stroke, you will have a gob of caulk on the end of the tool. Wipe it on the magazine; when the magazine is full of caulk, turn the page.
  • Use toilet paper to wipe the tip of the caulk gun and Caulk Rite tool.
  • Caulk the joint from the other corner toward the center, using less pressure as you close in.
  • Wipe the gob of caulk on magazine.
  • Repeat the above steps as necessary.
  • Let the fresh caulk cure for 24 hours before exposing it to water.
 
Good luck with your project!