How to Spread Silicone Caulk


Silicone caulk comes in a tube and is used to seal around the edges of shower doors and where the floor meets the wall tiles. It can also be used to seal spaces around window frames to save on heating and cooling costs. Spreading silicone caulk is not a hard job, but you do have to go slowly and be careful to get a good seal that looks attractive.

Things You'll Need

  • Caulking gun
  • Heavy scissors
  • Medium size nail (6 penny)
  • Paper towels
  • Painter's tape (optional)
  • Rubbing alcohol (optional)
  • Caulk smoothing tool (optional)
  • Clean and dry the surface where you are going to apply the silicone caulk. You can wipe it with rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. If the surface has any moisture, the caulk won't adhere correctly or spread well.

  • Cut the end of the caulk tube once it is in the caulking gun. Make the cut on an angle and don't make the hole too big. An opening of about 1/16 of an inch is right. This will allow you to control the caulk flow better. Puncture the seal inside the tube with the end of a wire coat hanger if necessary.

  • Hold the caulking gun at an angle and squeeze slowly until the caulk starts flowing. Work slowly and squeeze the caulk out as neatly as possible in a line, working back towards yourself. Have paper towels handy. Squeeze out about one to two feet of caulk and stop. If the caulk stops flowing when you release the handle, that's good. If it continues to flow, wipe off the excess and stick the nail in the end to stop it.

  • Lay the gun down on a paper towel and go back to where you started the caulk. Pressing lightly, smooth the caulk into the angle with your fingertip or with the smoothing tool. Make sure there are no gaps and that the finish is a smooth curve. If your finger sticks at all, wet it with a little alcohol on a paper towel. If you haven't laid down enough caulk with the first pass, add another thin bead of caulk and smooth it down on top of the first caulk. On your next section, go more slowly and you will be able to get more caulk with just one pass.

  • Work your way in sections until you finish, cleaning up any drips as you go with the paper towels. You will get better with practice. Wipe up any messy spots as you go, but don't smear the wet caulk around. Let the caulk dry as advised on the tube. Some caulks now dry in a few hours, but you may want to let it dry overnight just to be safe.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are silicone caulks now available with an antimicrobial additive. This will help keep mold from growing in damp places like a shower.
  • If you don't feel confident that you can spread and smooth the caulk neatly, use the painter's tape about 1/4 inch from each side of the angle. Be careful taking it off so you don't loosen the caulk.
  • Make sure the area you are working in is well-ventilated as some silicone caulk has a strong odor until it cures.

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  • Photo Credit View of Hotel Bathroom image by TekinT from glazier image by Greg Pickens from finger image by Stepanov from
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