In construction work, the process of sealing joints and seams with caulk is critical, making it necessary to use a caulk gun to ensure precise application. Although it looks hard at first, you could actually apply caulk like a pro given enough time and experience. Caulking is used on a lot of applications, making it a necessary skill for any handyman, carpenter, painter, or mason.
The caulk gun
The general construction of a caulk gun includes a sheet metal cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and a length of around 12 inches. A rod emerges from one end of the cylinder. The rod has a metal bar and spring wrapped on it. A handle is connected to the spring and rod mechanism which advances the rod inside the cylinder.
The general operation of a caulk gun involves inserting the sealer tube or cartridge into the metal cylinder. As you squeeze the handle, the rod advances and applies pressure on the cartridge. The pressure squeezes the sealant out from the nozzle of the container and into the surface or crack to be filled.
Caulking can be applied on numerous types of materials and surfaces, making the caulk gun a very versatile tool. The following are common applications using a caulk gun:
Caulking windows and doors
Gaps in windows and doors can cause drafts which would indicate poor insulation. For windows, existing caulking might have cracked and worn away, causing air to flow freely inside the house. On the other hand, doors exposed to the elements such as your front door can get damaged due to repeated exposure to rain and sunlight. To remedy this, you need to replace the old caulk with a new application of caulk or sealant.
To start, you need to check the surface of your windows and doors for cracks and worn out caulk. One you have identified the areas that need to be repaired, mark it with some colored tape. This will make it easy to remember which ones have already been treated and which ones have not.
To check for drafts, you can do the “incense test”. Close all of the windows and doors. Light an incense stick and hold it next to the door or window, particularly the edges. If the door or window is perfectly sealed, the smoke from the incense stick should go straight up. On the other hand, a draft coming in from a compromised seal will cause the smoke to blow horizontally.
Remember that for every two doors or windows that need to be sealed, you should buy at least one sealant tube. Depending on where you will apply it, sealant tubes come in two types: latex sealant for surfaces that need to be painted afterwards and silicone-based sealant for surfaces that are exposed to the elements.
Before applying caulk, clean the surface to be treated with soap and water. For tougher stains, you can use rubbing alcohol. Use a putty knife to remove old caulk and worn out paint from the door or window. Once the surface is dry, put tape along the joint to ensure a level and straight application. Load the sealant tube into the caulk gun and apply evenly on the surfaces that you marked with tape.
For that professional look, smooth out the joint by running your finger along the bead. This pushes the caulk deep into the joint ensuring a good seal. Peel away the tape running along the joint and let it dry.
Don’t stop caulking at doors and windows. Weatherization is important, not only for energy consumption, but for saving some money. Continue to cover all cracks which leads to the outside. Think to yourself how can I prepare for winter.
Caulking the kitchen sink
The kitchen sink needs to be checked regularly since it is exposed to water, oil, grease, and other stuff which can degrade the caulk easily. Prepare the sink by cleaning it thoroughly with water, soap, and alcohol. Tough grime and grout can be carefully removed using a sharp knife. Applying alcohol on the sink and pipes disinfects the surfaces, reducing bacteria buildup which can cause air bubbles to form.
Load the caulk cartridge into the caulk gun and apply the sealant on the cracks. Remember to put steady pressure to ensure an even application. In cases that the caulk would overflow, just even it out using a sharp knife once the caulk has dried out completely. Ideally, the kitchen sink will be ready for use after 24-48 hours.
Caulking bathroom tiles
Just like kitchen sinks, bathroom tiles get wet and exposed to various substances on a daily basis. Before applying caulk to bathroom tiles, choose a silicone-based caulk with Microban. The silicone material resists water better than latex-based sealants while Microban prevents the formation of mold and mildew in moist environments.
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Clean the tile surfaces and remove the old caulk using a small pick or screwdriver. Once the old caulk has been cleared off, you can load up the caulk gun and start applying caulk on the gaps between tiles. Apply even pressure and smooth out overflows with the tip of your finger. The caulk should dry off after a few hours.