Caulking is traditionally applied using a dispenser or caulking gun, though many manufacturers are now offering caulking in squeeze tubes or pressurized cans. There are specific types of caulking designed for use on different types of projects. Because different caulks dry, cure and shrink at different rates, it is important to read the directions on your caulking before applying.
Types of Caulk
It is important to understand that different types of caulking that are meant to be used for different projects. Acrylic latex caulk is sometimes referred to as painter's caulk, because it comes in a range of colors and can easily be painted over to match the rest of the surface. Acrylic latex caulk is used primarily around windows and siding because of its ability to be painted. For materials harder than wood, like concrete, stone, or metal, butyl rubber caulk is used because it is the most durable, though for clean up you’ll need to use some kind of solvent. Silicone caulk is a great all purpose caulk because it can be used on a variety of surfaces and materials. Silicone caulk is used to seal window edges, because it stays flexible even after drying, though it should not be used for siding as it repels paint. There are also special types of caulking that fight mildew, for use in bathrooms, and mortar caulk that holds up to high heat.
You can keep your caulking beads neat and straight if you tape around the area you plan to caulk. If you keep two pieces of tape at the desired distance apart, you can apply caulk and remove the tape leaving a clean and evenly tooled line behind. Simply apply your caulk, wipe the excess onto the adjacent tape and then remove the tape.
Reusing a Container
If you find yourself with a half full tube of caulk that has dried, do not fret; there is still hope for the caulk. Begin by cutting the opening on your caulking tube wider, you might even have to cut it open to its widest diameter. After cutting your opening, drive a long coarse screw into the hardened caulk and pull the dried caulk out of the nozzle. You’ll have half a container of caulk that is still usable. Alternatively, to save a half empty container, simply insert a nail or a screw in the end of the nozzle and wrap it in plastic to keep it fresh.