caulking gun
Photo by: Ralph Masullo
On the surface, caulking seems the simplest of homeowner projects, but anyone who has ever sealed around a bathtub knows it's easy for this type of job to turn into a real mess. It takes practice to lay down a perfect bead of caulk. That's why tradespeople who do it daily, like tilesetters and painters, are so good at it. Caulking also requires the knowledge to select the right caulk for the job. There are dozens of dissimilar materials such as tile, wood and vinyl that require bonding and/or gap filling around your home, and no one single product works everywhere. But help is on the way. We'll show you how to buy the right caulk and how to lay down that elusive perfect bead.

1. Whether you're caulking with a gun or a squeeze tube (a wise choice for small jobs that call for a water-based caulk), keep the tip moving and try to maintain steady dispensing pressure for an even bead.

2. An index finger works fine when tooling a bead of water-based caulk. An ice cube is another alternative.

3. It's best to tool silicone and polyurethane joints with a plastic spoon or a caulk tool. For poly caulk, wet the tool surface with solvent to get smooth results with this super- sticky material.

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