Applying Adhesive Caulk

hands applying sealant caulk
  • Beginner
What You'll Need
Utility knife
Work gloves
Shop towels
Caulking tool
Caulking gun
Mineral spirits
Putty knife

Applying adhesive caulk can be a messy and time consuming job if it is not done properly. A caulk job, more than most other finishing jobs, can be made easier if you assemble the right collection of tools and resources. Remember that caulk not only gives a finished look to your bathroom or kitchen project, but it also helps to protect the wood underneath from damage and mold. So when you do a caulk job, take your time and check each step to make sure that you have completed the task properly before moving on to the next part of the job.

You will want to make sure your surface is completely clean and dry before you begin. Use a shop towel to apply mineral spirits to clean off any residue from caulk that was removed. For larger caulk deposits use a putty knife first, and then clean with mineral spirits. You can towel dry the area clean, or wait 24 hours for the area to air clean completely.

Before you get started you will also need to determine what kind of caulk to use. There are two major types of adhesive caulk; latex caulk and silicone caulk. Silicone caulk is very durable and remains soft after it has dried. This allows it to move with the surface it is attached to as the change in weather causes a house to expand and contract. However silicone is hard to remove and it cannot be painted easily. So if you are looking to paint your caulk or change it in a few years, silicone may not be for you. Latex caulk is very easy to work with, it can last many years and it can be painted. The only drawback to latex caulk is that it does not breathe as easily as silicone and can tend to crack over time. If you would like to paint over your caulk then choose latex.

Opening the Caulk

Cut the tip of the caulk tube at an angle with a utility knife. There will be marks on the tip of the tube that will tell you where to cut for the desired size bead you want. Cut carefully, and make sure you are wearing your safety gloves.

When you have cut the tip of the caulk tube, place it in the caulk gun.

Using the Caulk Gun

Apply gentle pressure to the caulk gun trigger, and begin applying your bead of caulk with an even motion. If you need to stop to re-grip the trigger, quickly lift the caulk gun from the surface and then pick up where you left off.

Be sure to use a shop towel to keep the tip of the caulk gun clean. If you allow caulk to build up at the tip of the tube, your job will begin to look sloppy.

Shape the Bead

Use the caulk tool to create an even looking edge to your bead. A caulk tool is a small plastic device normally shaped like a triangle with one of the corners cut off. When you run it along the caulk, it makes a nice even bead. Go slowly, and stop to clean the tool off when it gets backed up with caulk.

Drying Time

Allow the caulk to dry for at least two to four hours before using it. Caulk normally needs at least 24 hours to cure completely, so if you can avoid getting it wet for that period of time then it will dry faster and the end result will look better.