Tip & How-To about Plumbing

Caulking - Finishing Tools

Caulking a Seam and/or Joint With Application Tools
There are many different tools on the market, but they all have the same principle in common - to help create a nice clean seam. There are only two real differences: push or pull. The type you pull, or back-drag, incorporates all the same tips as the push variety, so this article is written for the push tools.

Push tool application of silicone/acrylics caulking. Firstly, if you're like me, you will have a fair bit more silicone/acrylic then the paddle will hold. Every time you remove/re-apply the tool you will get "ripples" in the surface. Here are a few tricks I've learned along the way.

  • Rags: Mandatory - everyone knows this but most never have enough on hand. The trick is to always have a clean section to use when you need it. Folding the rag only works for so long. A roll of shop towels is handy to have on hand.
  • Soap and Water: A margarine container (or similar) half full of water (use warm/hot) and then a moderate squirt of dish detergent. The goal is a solution, not bubbles. Dip your tool often, this will make it easier to clean/use, and does not affect the material.
  • Clean and/or wipe the tool regularly. Material that sits for too long begins to cure, or skin over, and will be noticed in your finished product.
  • When using a push style tool, do manageable areas and back-drag. Once you've applied and cleaned one seam for instance, clean and dip the tool, then drag the profile backwards along the seam. This will smooth out any "ripples that have occurred.
  • Try to avoid back-dragging into old work (referring to the work you did earlier that day). This will prevent the skin of the material from rippling. Always try to back-drag from the edge of the old into the recent - as from the corner.
  • Finally, don't be afraid to use masking tape. Some people think that the use of tape is wrong, or the sign of an amateur. In truth, you're not trying to impress with how you do the job, but rather with the look of the job itself. Careful application, trimming, and handling of tape can make a job go very smooth. There will be times when the edge of the silicone/acrylic smears out really thin and much further then you anticipate. Having a taped edge you can remove will save on the cleaning.

Just remember one other important fact regarding silicone/acrylic... it will travel to where you don't want it seemingly on it's own. But a steady hand and using a few good tips will produce a finished product that will be pleasing to the eye as well as functional.

Richard C

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