5 Tips to Caulk like a Pro

5 Tips to Caulk Like a Pro

modern backsplash

Knowing the steps for the perfect bead of caulk is important for achieving a true finished look on many home improvement projects. Caulk is also used to waterproof the inside and outside of our homes to prevent costly damage and to reduce heating and cooling costs.


Whether you’re caulking your new backsplash or sealing a drafty window, these 5 tips will teach you how to caulk like the pros.

Step 1: Choose the Right Caulk for the Job

Types of Caulk:

Latex Painter's Caulk


Latex caulk is usually used on the interior of your home to fill gaps between walls, ceilings, trim, windows, and doors because it adheres to wood and drywall well. Latex caulk is often referred to as “painters caulk” or “acrylic caulk” because it can be painted to match wherever you are using it.  It guards against water penetration but is known to shrink and distort over time. Latex caulk is easy to use and cleans up well. In fact, it’s easier to remove when it needs to be replaced than other types of caulk.

Silicone Caulk


Silicone caulk is the best waterproof barrier against moisture and is mostly used around showers, tubs, sinks, and toilets. It is also good outdoors for protecting your home from water, moisture, and other weather elements. Unlike latex, silicone is stickier making it harder to install and clean up, and paint does not stick to this type of caulk. Silicone is very flexible making it hard to crack or distort. It’s adheres to metal, ceramic, glass, and plastic surfaces. If done properly the first time, silicone caulk can last up to 30 years. 

Polyurethane Caulk


Polyurethane caulk is considered the superior caulk to both silicone and latex because it’s super durable, tear resistant, waterproof, flexible, and able to be painted or stained. Because of its superior ability to adhere to almost any type of surface, polyurethane caulk can be expensive. The only drawback is it’s not as easy to clean because of its sticky, putty-like consistency and requires a cleaning solvent. 

 Now that you’ve selected the right caulk for the job, you’ll need the following items to get started:

Outside Caulking

Step 2: Clean Caulking Area

If you’re caulking an area where existing caulk once was, make sure that the old caulk is completely removed. Using a utility knife to remove the old caulk works well. Vacuum the area and wipe clean so that you have a smooth surface to work with. If you’re wanting an extra safe guard for the perfect bead of caulk, it’s recommended you apply painters tape on the top and bottom of the joint you plan to caulk before you start. 

Step 3: Cut the Tube

 Use your utility knife to cut the tube end at a 30-45 degree angle. Don’t cut too far down. Once it’s cut, puncture the seal with a puncture device. Most caulking guns will have this feature built in. Put the caulk into the caulking gun. After you’ve done a test bead on a dry paper towel, wipe the tip clean with your damp cloth. You’re ready to start caulking!


Step 4: Apply the Caulk

 One common beginners mistake is going too slow and ending up with too much caulk on the line. The key to the perfect bead is to keep moving, stay steady, and apply even pressure. Match the speed you move along the line to the speed you are pulling the trigger. Also, be aware of the angle of the tip. 

Step 5: Clean Up

 After you’ve applied the caulk, it’s time to tool. Tooling is the process of gliding over the length of the caulk to smooth it out. This can be done with a damp finger or finishing tool. A damp, soapy finger works best with latex caulk, whereas a finishing tool and solvent may be needed with silicone and polyurethane caulk. Don’t apply too much pressure, just enough to settle it in the joint. If you press too hard, you may smear it.  Once it’s smooth, be sure to seal your caulk with a nail or wire nut.

Caulking takes patience and practice, but these 5 simple steps will set you up to caulk like a pro! 

DAP's Alex Plus Caulk

There are a wide variety of caulking products out there, so be sure to check out all of our options at doitbest.com. We have trusted brands like DAP, who are known throughout the industry for their easy-to-use caulks, sealants, and adhesives. DAP’s ALEX PLUS® is America’s #1 selling latex caulk.  Ship it for free to one of our local, independently owned stores today!

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