How to Caulk
You can do this! And we’re here to help.
Caulking isn’t difficult, but it can be time-consuming and messy. With a few pointers and some practice there’s no reason you can’t get good at it. While you don’t have to do it often, you should recaulk any time the seal has been compromised to prevent bigger problems — of course, if you need us we’re always happy to help!
Total time: 15-92 minutes for most caulking tasks. A little longer depending on the size & complexity of the area.
How to Caulk
How to Caulk Trim
When it comes to trim, windows, baseboards and the like, there are two reasons to apply caulk: It can make them look nicer, but it can also prevent the outdoors (that’s weather, bugs, and worse) from getting in.
First, if applicable, you need to know how to fill large gaps in wood trim. If the gap is really large, you can buy what’s called “backer rod” — basically a firm but pliable foam cord to stuff in the gap and give the caulk something to adhere to. It’s sold in many diameters, so you can get the one that suits your needs. It’s also acceptable to use wood shims, or other scrap wood you have around that fits.
Now that you know how to fill a gap between a baseboard and floor, let’s get into how to caulk baseboards, how to caulk crown moulding, or how to caulk window trim — they all use the same basic principles.
In any of the areas listed, you’re going to want to make sure you’re using a caulk that says it’s paintable, in a color that will blend in with its surroundings. Remember that even after you paint it, some of it might still be visible. When in doubt, clear is a good option!
First make sure the area you plan to caulk is clean. You can use painter’s tape to create a straight edge, especially if you’re caulking for the first time. Painters’ caulk can be cleaned up with water, so you should keep a wet rag nearby and use gloves.
With your setup complete, cut your tube of caulk at a 45 degree angle, and start small (you can always go bigger, but you can’t go smaller!). Now’s your time to shine: Run a continuous bead of caulk along the area as smoothly as you can. Release the pressure on your tub of caulk so it stops squeezing, and run your finger (or caulking tool, or credit card, whatever works!) along the bead to press it into the gap and smooth the surface. And with that, you know how to caulk baseboards to tile floor among other things, to keep out the drafts and pests!
How to Caulk Windows
There are two functional reasons to seal a window; first and foremost you don’t want water penetrating your walls, causing much larger issues. This means you’ll want to seal them from the outside. The other reason is drafts and temperature efficiency — and as long as you’ve got the outside covered, this part happens on the inside.
How to seal a window from the inside:
To seal the trim around the window, refer to how to caulk trim above. When cold weather comes around and you’re no longer opening your windows for fresh air, feel around the edges of the frame, where moving pieces slide along one another. If you’re feeling drafts, there’s a temporary product called rope caulk that you can use to seal those gaps, and is perfectly removable when the weather turns again and you want your windows to function. It comes in a few colors, and works like a putty; work it a little with your fingers to make it pliable, and then smush it into the corners where you feel drafts. This option is still visible, but not as much as the plastic window coverings. Now that you know how to caulk windows inside, let’s move along to…
How to caulk exterior windows:
First you need some good weather in the forecast, so your hard work isn’t taken out by mother nature. Next, you may need some backer rod or other filler if you have large gaps to fill. Lastly, what’s your plan? If you’re going to paint over this area, then you won’t need to use painter’s tape as you’ll paint over any excess. When you’re thinking about how to caulk windows outside on brick, you may want to tape a straight line so that the end result aligns with the mortar between the bricks and looks sharp.
How to replace window sealant:
Apply a smooth bead of caulk around the edges where the window meets the exterior of the home. If you’re able to, smooth the line with your fingers, but smoothing the caulk line will be challenging if the gap is large.
Once you clean up any spillage or undesirable areas, you can proudly say you know how to caulk outside windows!
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How to Caulk a Shower
There are three main steps to learning how to replace caulk in a shower. Let’s go!
Step 1: How to remove caulk from shower
Start by taping or covering your drain so it doesn’t collect debris. Next you’ll remove the old caulk — the best tool for this job is a razor scraper tool. Being careful to slice away from your body, run the razor along the caulk that you’re trying to remove. You can pair this technique with a putty knife to pry out pieces wedged between tiles, but it’s important to remove all the old caulk so that the new stuff can adhere. Now that you know how to remove moldy caulk, let’s prep the surface.
Step 2: Prep
Using painter’s tape is a good way to ensure the caulk doesn’t spread too far, which makes for a messy-looking job. Place the tape on either edge of the seam you’re caulking, pressing it into grout lines with a putty knife. Be mindful of corners and tape them accordingly or prepare to freehand them, whichever you’re most comfortable with.
Step 3: How to re caulk a shower
Cut your tube of caulk at a 45 degree angle, and start small; you can always cut it bigger if you need to, but you can’t un-cut it! Use the poker on your caulk gun to pierce the inside of the tube, and then place the tube in the caulk gun. Applying a little pressure at a time, apply a smooth bead of caulk down the length of the first edge of the shower. Whenever you rest your caulk gun down, make sure that it has stopped squeezing so you don’t find a pile of caulk where you don’t want it; still, it’s a safer bet to place it on a rag or otherwise covered surface.
Using your finger or a caulk tool, smooth the caulk line in a swift movement, being careful not to spread the buildup. You may have to add some caulk in spots, or smooth the line in a few swipes, but continue until it looks consistent. Then remove the tape before the caulk forms a skin, and continue to the other seams.
Now you know how to remove old caulk from a shower, how to caulk a shower stall, and just a quick note on how to clean shower caulk: Follow package instructions for wait time before exposing the caulk to water, and it’s recommended that you not scrub or scour the fresh caulk for several weeks.
How to Caulk a Bathtub
The steps for how to caulk a tub are very similar to how to caulk a shower, except that tubs come with more fixtures. Fixtures can be tricky, especially in tight spaces!
How to remove caulk from tubs:
Start by taping or covering your drain so it doesn’t collect debris. Then use a razor scraper to carefully cut the caulk from around the spout, faucet, and other fixtures. In some cases it will be easier to remove them; you can find instructions on our page about how to fix a faucet.
How to recaulk a bathtub:
If you’re not doing a lot of caulking, you may want to purchase the kind that comes in a toothpaste-like tube, as it can make maneuvering around fixtures a little easier than using a caulk gun. You want to cut the tube of caulk at a 45 degree angle, and start small. In a smooth motion, lay a bead of caulk around the edge of the fixture, all the way around. Then use your finger or a caulk tool to smooth the bead into the seam so it looks tidy. You can wipe off excess with a rag before it dries.
How to Caulk a Sink
There are two types of kitchen or bathroom sinks which need to be caulked to prevent water intrusion. There’s the undermount sink — the kind where your countertops go all the way to the opening for the sink — and the drop-in sink, which has a bit of a lip over the countertop. Luckily the steps for how to caulk a kitchen sink and how to caulk a bathroom sink remain the same, and only the angles at which you do them change.
Start by removing the old caulk, and ensuring that the surfaces are clean and dry before you start. If you’re using painter’s tape, tape along each edge of the seam to keep the caulk in place.
Whenever you’re working with areas that will get exposed to water, you’re going to want 100% silicone caulk in a complimentary color. Clear is a good bet if you’re looking for how to caulk a stainless steel kitchen sink, but you do you!
With the area prepped, apply a small bead of caulk around the perimeter of the sink. Use your finger or a caulk tool to smooth the bead into the seam, creating a continuous line all the way around. Use a rag to wipe up any excess, and make sure to remove any painter’s tape before the caulk begins to dry.
There is one special trick for how to recaulk kitchen sinks though: make sure that once you remove the tape, nobody knocks a bottle of hand soap into your hard work…