Professional painters understand the importance of surface preparation. The first step to any successful interior or exterior painting project is careful cleaning and preparation. DIYers who learn how to apply caulk like professional painters will have significantly better results.
What Exactly Is Caulk?
Caulk, also referred to as sealant, is used to fill the gaps where two building materials meet. There are different types of caulk for various purposes: silicone, latex, acrylic, and polyurethane are just a few options on the market. The more flexible the caulk is, the better it will fill the gaps between building materials that expand and contract due to changing temperatures. Some sealants are waterproof, and others are moisture-resistant.
The caulk you choose should be easy to apply and paintable. Some dry quickly, while others have longer curing times. Reading the labels carefully and selecting the right type for your project is essential.
Exterior caulking protects your home from the elements. Significant damage can occur when moisture or pests are allowed to find their way under siding or between windows and doors. Mildew, mold, and rot can cause costly damage to wood siding and window casings.
Interior caulk is used around kitchen countertops, bathtubs, and shower enclosures to prevent moisture from entering gaps. Interior caulking is also sometimes used for cosmetic purposes. In new construction, joints between wood panels require caulking before painting. The same applies to wood and drywall, especially around baseboards and casings.
Follow These Steps When Applying Caulk
Choose the Right Caulk
The type of caulk that will work best for your project depends on several factors. Read the label closely to ensure you purchase the right caulk for your project. Caulks designed for exterior use are made to withstand harsh outdoor elements. Some exterior caulk is intended for use in areas with extreme temperature changes and is also waterproof and mildew-resistant.
Caulks are also designed for specific interior conditions. Look for mold and mildew-resistant caulk for high-moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Look for a paintable caulk if you plan to paint over the caulk. Some caulk comes tinted for an easy color match. Purchase the caulk with the specific features needed for your interior project.
Clean the Surface
Cleaning the surface is the first step. A clean, dust-free surface allows the caulk to adhere well and gives a smooth, even result. Remove any old caulking and clean the area thoroughly. Allow the surface to dry thoroughly before applying the new caulk.
Use a Caulk Gun
For larger projects, use caulk sold in tube cartridges. A caulking gun is needed to apply this type of caulk. Applying caulk with a caulking gun will result in a continuous bead of caulk, giving a professional look. Dripless caulking guns are the choice of most professionals. These caulking guns automatically stop the flow of the caulk as soon as the trigger is released. This feature prevents waste and the amount of time spent on clean-up.
Prepare the Cartridge Tip
Cut off only the tip of the applicator on the caulk cartridge. Use a thumbtack to pierce the area of the applicator tip you cut off to make the actual opening for the caulk to flow from – it is easier to apply another thin bead of caulk than it is to clean up a thick glob of caulk. Making the smallest opening possible on the tip of the applicator is the goal and will result in a neat, professional appearance.
Apply the Caulk
Mark a line on the longest angle of the applicator’s tip with a permanent marker. Being able to easily see the angle of the applicator’s tip without stopping as you are applying the new caulk will make the job faster. Keep the orientation line you marked on the caulk’s application tip turned away from you as you apply the caulk.
Creating a “V” groove on the applicator’s tip will allow it to fit in the caulked area and give an even smooth finish. Hold the tip of the applicator firmly against the surface you are caulking. Squeeze the bead of caulk into the seam you are caulking, not over the seam. The goal is to fill the seam, not to cover it with a wide band of caulk.
Clean As You Go
Use a clean damp rag to keep the caulk applicator’s tip and your fingers clean. Always have some damp rags handy for clean-up as you apply new caulk. Cleaning as you are caulking is much easier than trying to clean after the caulk has begun to dry.
General Caulking Tips
- You may need to fill the space before caulking significant gaps. Before professionals fill a large gap with caulk, they bridge the opening with a stiff foam backer rod. Backer rods are available in hardware or paint stores. It is sold in lengths like rope and comes in various diameters.
- Use the largest bead of caulk possible while maintaining a neat appearance. Larger beads accommodate more movement and reduce the risk of cracking.
- When using a damp rag to tool the caulking, be careful not to get residue from the rag on the surfaces to be painted. Caulk residue will leave a visible film on surfaces when it dries.
- Choose the correct type of caulk for the job. Choose a caulk designed for your building materials if you are caulking exterior surfaces. There are caulks available for vinyl, masonry, and wood. Each type of exterior caulk has pros and cons to consider.
Trust the Local Painting Professionals
The benefits of hiring a professional painter are numerous. You’ll save time, energy, and money. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing the work was done safely and professionally. They’ll handle all the cleaning, preparation, and painting so you can sit back and relax. By hiring local painting professionals, you’ll benefit from their expertise and support your local community at the same time.
Mr. Mole’s Painting LLC offers interior and exterior painting services for commercial and residential properties. We provide in-person and virtual quotes for your convenience. Contact us at (218) 368-2560 to discuss your next painting project. We look forward to working with you.