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Caulking Tips & Tricks: Everything You Need To Know

Do you need to buy caulking and apply it in your home, but you’re totally confused? In this article, we’re going back to the basics and sharing everything you need to know about caulking and giving you all of our favorite caulking tips & tricks. Be sure check out the video at the end too to learn how to load your caulk gun & apply caulking!

Thank you to DAP Products for sponsoring this caulking tips guide! All opinions are entirely my own. This post also contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t recommend wholeheartedly. Read my full disclosure here.

If you’re someone who DIYs and loves renovating your home (or even JUST if you’re a homeowner), chances are that you’ve had a run-in or two (or ten) with caulking. There are SO many reasons why you need to caulk different areas in your home and, honestly, it can all be a little overwhelming.

Well, you’re in luck today because we’re bringing it back to the basics with a super informative and detailed guide filled with our favorite caulking tips and tips, FAQs, tutorials…you name it. It’s basically everything you need to know about caulking all in one spot for you!

Caulking Tips and Tricks: Everything you need to know for DIY caulking projects

I said we were going to start with the basics with this caulking tips & tricks article…so let’s get real basic!

What is Caulking?

Caulk or caulking is a material used to fill gaps in the seams between two materials or to seal joints. It is sold in a tube that is loaded into a caulking gun, which is used to push out the caulking into the seam. It is also sold in a squeeze tube.

Caulk is used both to make seams, joints, and corners sealed off from water, bugs, air, and/or water.

Caulk is usually made of either latex or silicone (or a combination of the two).

There are tons of different types of caulk for all sorts of renovation and construction uses, so it’s very important that you’re choosing the right caulk for the job.

Popular Caulk Types

Because there are SO many kinds of caulking, it can definitely get overwhelming so one of the objectives of today’s article is to teach you about the different types of popular caulking.

According to our friends at DAP (as shown in this YouTube video), if you’re confused about what type of caulking you need, start by asking yourself:

  • What is your project?
  • Will you be applying inside or outside?
  • Do you need to paint the seal?

Exterior Caulk

Looking for the best exterior caulk to use on windows, doors, siding, or trim? Exterior caulking is super important to seal your home’s heat and cooling and protect from water damage!

Be sure that you’re buying a sealant that is made for exteriors, first of all! Flexibility is the most important thing when working with exterior caulk because with the temperature changes, you need the caulk to flex to avoid cracking and shrinking.

caulking tips and tricks: DAPs dynaflex ultra is one of the best exterior caulks to use in outdoor projects

Our favorite exterior caulk is DAP’s Dynaflex Ultra advanced exterior sealant. It’s a durable, 100% waterproof seal that stands up to the exterior elements.

Pro caulking tip: If it’s cold outside, be sure to keep the sealant indoors before using it. It needs to be at least 40 degrees to work properly.

Dynaflex caulk is a great exterior caulk to use for DIY projects

You can see this caulk in action when we did this porch post makeover project. The caulk was applied to all the joints and corners on these posts to waterproof everything and 2 years later, the project is looking great still!

We also used it on this outdoor chalkboard we made for our kids last summer.

Interior Caulk

When you’re caulking indoors, it will likely be for 1 of 2 things…dry spaces like trim and baseboards or wet spaces like kitchens and baths. Each space requires a different type of caulking.

Interior Caulk for Baseboards, Doors and Trim

Adding caulk around trim and baseboards gives you a nice, finished professional look and should be applied before painting.

Just like on the exterior, choosing a flexible caulk is important here too because wood products – like baseboards and doors – expand and contract with temperature changes.

The other important thing is that the caulk is paintable because you’re likely going to be painting trim and baseboards on your interior.

We’ve got two favorite interior caulks and we use both very regularly!

Indoor caulk is vital in many DIY projects like creating a shiplap wall
DAP Alex Plus Caulk

One of our favorite interior caulks is DAP Alex Plus. And we’re not the only ones who love it – it is actually America’s #1 selling latex caulk. It’s easy to apply and is ready to paint in just 30 minutes!

You can see Alex Plus caulking in action on these popular DIY projects we’ve done:

Using an indoor caulk to seal a corner in a DIY project
DAP Alex Flex Caulk

Alex Flex is very similar to Alex Plus, but a little higher quality. It is made specifically for molding and trim. These areas are usually more prone to caulk cracking because the different materials expand and contract at different rates and Alex Flex prevents that.

Using caulk to fill in bricks on a wall.

You can see Alex Flex caulk in action on these recent renovation projects:

What’s the difference between DAP Alex Plus and Alex Flex caulking?
  • Alex Plus is an all purpose caulk to use indoors on a variety of projects and usually at a slightly lower price point then Alex Flex, but not by much.
  • Alex Flex is higher quality and made specifically for molding and trim.
  • Invariably the question that follows when comparing Alex Plus to Alex Flex is when/why would I ever select Alex Plus over Alex Flex (given that it is the better performer)?
    • Clear and Colors are available in Alex Plus (not Alex Flex, which only comes in white).

Interior Caulk for Kitchens & Bath

Dap kwik seal ultra is one of the best caulks for bathroom projects

When it comes to caulking interior spaces that may get wet or exposed to moisture, the most obvious thing you need to watch out for is buying something that is specifically made for kitchens and baths! It needs to be 100% waterproof and be mold and mildew resistant.

DAP Kwick Seal Ultra caulk is one of the best caulks to use in bathrook and tiling projects

For us, it’s all about DAP Kwik Seal Ultra. We love that it cures quickly (it’s water-ready in just 4 hours) and is easy to tool (which is a fancy word for smoothing the caulking).

It comes in a few options of different colors (white, clear, or biscuit), but we usually use either white or clear.

Caulking tip: this kwil seal ultra caulk is perfect for bathroom and tile projects

One important thing to remember about using Kwik Seal Ultra (and probably all kitchen and bath caulks for that matter) is that they are NOT paintable. This is due to the silicone that is added to the caulking.

So if they are being applied on an edge that is going to be painted, paint the wall first, then apply the caulk.

Caulking tip: use kwick seal ultra caulk for tile projects like sealing kitchen backsplash

You can see Kwik Seal Ultra in action on these projects of ours:

Caulking tips and tricks: Here are some frequently asked questions about caulk

Caulking Tips: Caulk Frequently Asked Questions

What should you caulk?

You should caulk any and all corners and joints in your home, especially where two different materials meet. That means around trim, baseboards, doors, and windows as well as in all corners and joints in your shower and bathtub areas, around sinks, at the bottom of backsplashes, and on the edge of countertops.

Basically any time you need to fill a gap or crack for a finished look or to waterproof, use caulk!

Can you caulk over caulk?

For best results, you should always remove old caulking before adding new caulk.

If absolutely necessary, you could technically apply a bead of caulk over old caulking as long as it was wider….but again, we wouldn’t recommend this method.

Check out the step-by-step tutorial below for how to remove old caulking.

Why does my caulk keep cracking?

Most likely, it’s because you either didn’t use the right kind of caulk for the job or you didn’t use something with high enough quality. Refer to the caulk types guide above to make sure you’re buying the right caulk for the job.

Another reason caulk may crack is if the bead of caulk is put on too thin. If that’s the case, remove and recaulk with a thicker bead next time.

Can I paint over caulk?

If it’s paintable caulk, like Alex Flex and Alex Plus, yes! You should be able to paint over that in roughly 30 minutes after applying.

But like I mentioned earlier, kitchen and bath caulk that contains silicone, like Kwik Seal Ultra, cannot be painted.

When in doubt, read your tube of caulking to find out.

How do you caulk wide gaps?

If you have a gap that’s wider than 1/4″, you’ll want to add a backer rod like this or you can also stuff in some paper towels or toilet paper to fill the gap before caulking.

How often should caulking be replaced?

It depends on a lot of different factors. If you notice that the caulk is discolored, cracking, peeling or has gaps – you definitely to replace it.

Otherwise, caulk should be inspected every 5 years or so to see if it needs to be replaced. If so, follow the steps below on how to remove old caulking.

If you’re using a high-quality caulk, as we reference in this post, it should last longer.

Also, keep an eye on your energy bills and if you notice they are higher than normal – check for damaged caulk (both interiors and exteriors) that may be letting in or out drafts.

At the end of the day, recaulking is something that should only cost you $10 or so and less than an hour so if you’re in doubt – best to just recaulk it.

Caulking Tips and Tricks: how to apply caulk

How To Caulk – Video Tutorial

Sometimes it’s just easier to see something, like how to caulk, in a video format. So we created a quick video that walks you through the more caulking tips & the entire process of how to caulk, includes how to use a caulk gun and how to apply the caulk.

If you love DIY videos, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

The processes are also detailed below with some bullet points if you’d rather read.

How To Use Caulk Gun – Step by Step Tutorial

One of the most intimidating parts about caulking, I think, is figuring out how to use a caulk gun. Here’s a quick summary!

  1. Insert caulk tube into gun canister.
  2. Cut the tip of the caulking tube at 45 degree angle with utility knife or razor blade. Try to get the cut at the very tip of the tube – the further down you make the cut, the more caulk will come out. Most caulking guns also have a tube cutter on the side – just look for a little hole on the side. Put the tip of the tube in the hole, then you just squeeze the trigger to cut. However, we usually prefer to use a utility knife because it’s generally a cleaner cut and we have more control – but it’s totally just personal preference.
  3. Some tubes of caulk have an inner seal that also needs to be punctured before starting. There’s a little stick that’s on the side of the caulking gun that you can use for this. Once you cut the tip, just slide that little stick into the caulk tube to break the seal.
  4. Use trigger on caulking gun to push the caulk out.
  5. If you need to stop the caulking from being pushed out of the tube, pull back on the ratchet on the back of the gun to relieve the pressure. You could also just use your spare hand and place your finger firmly over the hole at the end of the tube (as shown in the video tutorial).

How To Apply Caulk – Step by Step Tutorial

Once you’ve got the caulk gun loaded and you’ve got an idea of how to use the caulk gun – you can start caulking! Here are our favorite caulk tips to share!

  • Hold the caulk gun at a 45 degree angle with the angled tip pointed towards the line that you’ll be caulking.
  • Pull the lever slowly and move along the line to add the bead of caulk. Try to move with an even and steady pressure on the lever and consistent pace along the line.
    • Caulk skipping? Too fast.
    • Caulk bubbling into gaps? Too slow.
  • If you have a gap larger than 3/8″, you want to be sure to fill it before caulking. You can simply shove some toilet paper or paper towels in the gap to fill or use a backer rod like this.
  • Keep your finger wet with either a wet rag or small bowl of water. This will help prevent the caulk from sticking to your finger when you smooth it. With a silicone based caulk, you may have more troubles with stickiness. Try adding a drop or two of dish soap to the bowl of water in this case.
  • They make a lot of different caulking smoothing tools out there and some people swear by them, but we prefer the control and smoothness that we have by using the finger instead.
  • If you want to be sure you have nice, clean lines around the caulk you can add painter’s tape on both sides of caulk. Remove the painter’s tape as soon as you’re done.

How To Remove Old Caulking – Step by Step Tutorial

Caulking tips and tricks: how to remove old caulking the easy way

Caulk should never be applied over old caulking – ESPECIALLY if it is damaged, discolored, or cracked! Here’s how you can remove old caulking:

  • To remove old caulk, use a sharp utility knife to score the edges of the caulk in between the surface and the caulk line on both sides.
  • Then with needle nose pliers, pick out the caulk.
  • Continue until all old caulk has been removed. It can be tedious, but it’s worth it.
  • After caulking is removed, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the area with rubbing alcohol and a scour pad. The scour pad helps get rid of any stubborn caulking and other residues that might not have come off during the scraping. Rubbing alcohol also leaves an extremely clean surface as it evaporates. 
  • Wait for rubbing alcohol to dry thoroughly before adding new caulk.

We hope you enjoyed this super detailed guide full of our favorite caulking tips & tricks! We hope you feel more empowered to go down to the home improvement store and head over to the caulking aisle and be confident that you’re choosing the right caulking for the job!

Once you bring that caulking home, you can follow our simple steps in the tutorials above for how to load and use the caulking gun and how to apply caulking (even if it’s your first time!) Did you enjoy learning all of these caulking tips?

Do you have any other questions about these caulking tips?

Let us know in the comments below!

Caulking tips and tricks: all your important caulking questions answered
How To Caulk: Caulking Tips and Tricks

How To Caulk: Caulking Tips and Tricks

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $10
Do you need to buy caulking and apply it in your home, but you're totally confused? In this article, we're going back to the basics and sharing everything you need to know about caulking and giving you all of our favorite caulking tips & tricks. Be sure check out the video at the end too to learn how to load your caulk gun & apply caulking!

Tools

Instructions

    1. Insert caulk tube into gun canister.
    2. Cut the tip of the caulking tube at 45 degree angle with utility knife or razor blade. Some tubes of caulk have an inner seal that also needs to be punctured before starting. There’s a little stick that’s on the side of the caulking gun that you can use for this. Once you cut the tip, just slide that little stick into the caulk tube to break the seal.
    3. Use trigger on caulking gun to push the caulk out.
    4. If you need to stop the caulking from being pushed out of the tube, pull back on the ratchet on the back of the gun to relieve the pressure. You could also just use your spare hand and place your finger firmly over the hole at the end of the tube (as shown in the video tutorial).
    5. Hold the caulk gun at a 45 degree angle with the angled tip pointed towards the line that you’ll be caulking. Pull the lever slowly and move along the line to add the bead of caulk. Try to move with an even and steady pressure on the lever and consistent pace along the line.
    6. Keep your finger wet with either a wet rag or small bowl of water. This will help prevent the caulk from sticking to your finger when you smooth it. With a silicone based caulk, you may have more troubles with stickiness. Try adding a drop or two of dish soap to the bowl of water in this case.
    7. If you want to be sure you have nice, clean lines around the caulk you can add painter’s tape on both sides of caulk. Remove the painter’s tape as soon as you’re done.

Notes

    • Try to get the cut at the very tip of the tube – the further down you make the cut, the more caulk will come out. Most caulking guns also have a tube cutter on the side – just look for a little hole on the side. Put the tip of the tube in the hole, then you just squeeze the trigger to cut. However, we usually prefer to use a utility knife because it’s generally a cleaner cut and we have more control – but it’s totally just personal preference.
    • Caulk skipping? Too fast.
    • Caulk bubbling into gaps? Too slow.
    • If you have a gap larger than 3/8″, you want to be sure to fill it before caulking. You can simply shove some toilet paper or paper towels in the gap to fill or use a backer rod.
    • They make a lot of different caulking smoothing tools out there and some people swear by them, but we prefer the control and smoothness that we have by using the finger instead.
    • To remove old caulk, use a sharp utility knife to score the edges of the caulk in between the surface and the caulk line on both sides. Then with needle nose pliers, pick out the caulk. Continue until all old caulk has been removed. It can be tedious, but it’s worth it.
    • After old caulking is removed, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the area with rubbing alcohol and a scour pad. The scour pad helps get rid of any stubborn caulking and other residues that might not have come off during the scraping. Rubbing alcohol also leaves an extremely clean surface as it evaporates. Wait for rubbing alcohol to dry thoroughly before adding new caulk.

1 thought on “Caulking Tips & Tricks: Everything You Need To Know

  1. It was unfortunate as I did not know how caulks could be used and what are its benefits and then I found this great website. I am glad that this thing has been presented here, and I guess it can be fruitful.

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