How to Make Perfect Caulk Beads

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We have all seen them. A perfect bead of caulk that looks as if it was done without human hands ever touching it. It looks so easy, but every time we try it, we end up with caulk all over our shirts, our hands, our hair, ears, the floor, the counter and drooling out of the end of the caulking tube. The caulk is where we want it, a crooked bead the size of a big man's thumb, and it is in so many more places that we now have to clean up. If it is silicone caulk, we really have a mess.

Things You'll Need

  • Caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Utility knife
  • Don't cut too much off the tip of the caulk tube. The size of the hole should be about two-thirds the width of the joint you wish to caulk.

  • Cut 1/16" for caulking work and 1/8" for tub caulking. If you have to open the caulking tube and a long nail is too thick, use a coat hanger or other thin, stiff wire.

  • Cut a 60 degre angle rather than a 45º angle as indicated on the caulk tubes. You can always cut it steeper if you need to.

  • Hold the gun at just the angle the cut is while you are caulking the joint.

  • Use a sharp knife to cut the tip. A smooth tip will make a smooth bead. Smooth the tip even more with some fine sandpaper.

  • Caulk at the right speed. Calculate the right speed and pressure on the handle to fill the joint, but not leave holes. Keep your speed steady.

  • Lift the tip and quickly release pressure when you reach the end of the bead. You usually release pressure with the caulking gun handle. Before you start another bead, clean the end of the tube.

  • Don't be afraid to use your fingers. Wet your finger if you are using latex caulk. Silicone caulk requires wetting your finger with denatured alcohol. Be sure to wear gloves. Remember while you are caulking, it is always easier to put more caulk on than to remove excess.

  • Use paper towels to wipe your fingers use a new one every time. If you don't, pretty soon, you are wiping your fingers on a rag or towel that already has caulk on it and you have more mess to deal with.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use an expensive frame-type caulk guns, but it will cost you $15 or $20. They do work well.
  • A dripless caulk gun is available for about $5. They take pressure off the gun the moment you release the handle, so you don't have caulk dripping out the handle until you can release it. It's worth it to have one.

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