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Caulk experts - tell me your secrets for laying clean cualk


Red Skull Member
Jul 18, 2020
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I know there has to be a few of you here that have lots of experience with caulk. I'd be some of you do nothing but play with caulk all day. Probably even getting paid to do it. I need some tips and tricks on how to lay a nice clean caulk in his bathroom.


But actually, they way I installed this tile and trim, I was left with about a 3/16" gap all the way around. I can get caulking that's color matched to the grout I used, but I want to get a nice, clean line when I apply it. Especially being this thick, I've never had much luck with the old soapy water/wet finger method. Always ended up with caulk in places I don't want it.

I was thinking about masking tape - just run a strip on the wall parallel to the trim, but even that could be difficult to get a clean, straight line with the gab being so big. Also wondering if I should go straight 90 degrees to the wall and just fill in the gap, or put a slope or radius on it and have the caulk a little proud of the trim where it meets the wall.

Tips or tricks from the professionals who lay lots of caulk?


They make little caulk spreaders. I use my finger dipped in soapy water, but it’s all in laying a consistent bead.
Hardly an expert, but just got done caulking a vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom with a similar 3/16" gap. Tape works pretty well, tape both sides of the joint to get it even on both sides. You still have to use some care to try and taper the caulk onto the tape so you are not peeling up a big blob left on the tape, using the moistened finger, but it does make it much more uniform looking. If you are messy :), use 2" wide blue painters tape instead of 1".
It isn't the fastest method but when you have to be perfect, tape it like you would if you were cutting in.

Just be sure you pull the tape before it dries.
A 4" mudd knife, . Run the caulk with the gun, then use the putty knife. Put the end of the blade on the wall,and use the body of the knife to smoosh, squish, or squeeze the caulk in the gap. If you overlap your knife strokes, and run over the wall with a wet rag every foot or so, the line comes out crisp and clean. I do all my caulking like this. No mess on your finger, no globs of caulk, being streaked on the wall or tile. That and the knife allows you to pack the caulk in the joint.
My caulk on the kids tub is kind of dirty. I tried to wash my caulk, but it wouldn't come clean. I'm going to end up ripping my caulk off and putting new caulk on.

Any tips would be appreciated.
They make little caulk spreaders. I use my finger dipped in soapy water, but it’s all in laying a consistent bead.

for sure, if you don't spread it before trying to stuff the caulk in there, not only will it not reach the bottom and all sides, but it has potential to fight you on the way in. wet fingers are certainly a plus
My caulk on the kids tub is kind of dirty. I tried to wash my caulk, but it wouldn't come clean. I'm going to end up ripping my caulk off and putting new caulk on.

Any tips would be appreciated.

another thing i learned in the other thread, don't use a stone to cut your caulk off, if it must be cut. that is some third world shit and will make a bigger mess.
Measure out your top like and tape it. Tool it with a radiused caulk knife, you can find them on Amazon or any supply house that sells caulk. Lay down your product, one pass pushing the knife into the corner to take off your extra, one pass the other way pulling the knife to set it. Watch a video of a pro caulker working and just copy what they do, it ends up easier and better than fucking around back and forth with soapy water all afternoon
My caulk on the kids tub is kind of dirty. I tried to wash my caulk, but it wouldn't come clean. I'm going to end up ripping my caulk off and putting new caulk on.

Any tips would be appreciated.

I've had good luck with Clorox Bleach pens (goopy bleach compound) to deal with moldy caulking. Just thoroughly apply on the caulking, let it set for a couple of hours then rinse off. Looks new!
I bought one of those caulk accessory sets with all kinds of silicon gadgets to aid in applying caulk.

I think my plan of action is going to be using a straight edge to lightly mark the edge of the trim on the wall, then tap to the marked line, squirt my caulk in the gap, using the tape to keep my caulk from getting places I don't want it, and then peel the tape off before my caulk dries up too much. Fortunately the top of the tile is about 7' high so not very visible from the ground. I can test my caulk handling skills up there before I do the most visible potion.
How you cut the tip of the caulk tube makes a huge difference. Dont just go all lorena bobbit and snip it off with a pair of dikes, use a sharp razor and cut it nice and clean at about a 30* angle. Try to get the hole size not too big so it lays a fat bead or too small that barely anything comes out. Hold the caulk gun at the same angle throughout the bead, and keep constant pressure and travel speed. Then if you need, you can use one of them fancy rubber tipped spreader tools and clean it up with some soapy water.

If you know someone who has an electric caulk gun, see if you can borrow it. I have the milwaukee cordless caulk gun that I use for windshield replacements, but it came in very handy for caulking the bath and shower. Much easier to get a good bead with it
Tape is stupid.
Cut the tip of the tube so the hole is as small as possible. Cut it diagonally, and apply it with the angle into the joint. If you want a perfect flat bead, buy a caulking tooling kit on Amazon, and some paint thinner or goof off and 2 rags.

Run a bead of caulking into the gap.
Splash some thinner on 1 rag, wipe the caulking tool on the rag so it has a little thinner on it. Tool the joint. Wipe the excess off on rag #2. Re-caulk the spots where there are still gaps. Repeat thinner/tooling process until you have the desired finish on the joint.

You're better off with 5 small passes than 1 big one.

Colour matched caulking is ok, but don't buy sanded. It's a nightmare to work with.

This is the tooling kit I use at work on the "do your best and caulk the rest" millwork the developer wants in their $500,000 studio condos.

Tape is a waste of time and tape. Make sure area is clean and dry. Trim tube tip at an angle. I squeeze the tip a bit to ovalize the opening and extend the tip. Start at the least visible location at one end. Pump and move slowly and consistently. Keep going to the other end of the run with tip in same position. Move on to the more visible runs. Do not fawk with it. Let dry. It will be fine.

Many problems are self induced trying to "fix it" so I am not going to tell you how. :flipoff2:
Hotel room key or credit card. Use the corner or cut to desired profile
I half expected a rimshot..:lmao:

Damn fer a bunch of homophobes, ya'll know an awefull lott bout the subject:eek:mmmmmm my .02 waterbase shrinks when cured thus is useless.
buy the tooling tools learn to apply an even bead without exess...
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The trick with laying good caulk is you have to work the caulk some first. I usually give it a good flick or two, after that you can fill the biggest gaps.
Get a Milwaukee battery caulk gun

I have the ryobi one. Haven't been super impressed with it, but probably user error. I bought it to squirt a bunch of Blackjack roofing caulk shit for a bridge expansion joint at work a few years ago. Half the tubs ended up splitting open and shooting gooey black caulk all over me.
The only thing I have to add is that if you are consistent and lay a good caulk bead directly into the crack, the clean up will be much less. The smaller the crack, the faster the bead.
One other thing to keep in mind is that silicone won't stick to silicone. I'm assuming you are using silicone in the bath area? It takes some practice to lay your caulk properly.
I have this one. As I posted before, I did not have a good experience with it putting down neoprene sealant with it....they were cardboard tubes and half of them split open under pressure. Guess I'll have to give it a go since the silicon tubes are plastic.

Tape, soapy water or spit and the right amount of caulk. Glazers make it look easy and it is after a few thousand feet of practice.
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