5 Easy Steps: How To Use Caulk On Any Surface?

Caulking is a home improvement project that people think is super easy. Most of the time people just apply it without knowing the method properly. 

In reality, Caulking is not as easy as you think. There are some steps to be followed before applying the caulk on the surface. You have to make some decisions, do some planning and then you are ready to use caulk. 

According to our research the experts also follow some steps before applying caulk on any surface. Following a method before applying is really effective and brings out an aesthetic finish on the surface. 

We highly recommend following these steps if you want a solid, strong and smooth finish from the caulk. 

5 Easy Steps Of How To Use Caulk

You have to start with making a decision. 

The most important decision you have to make is selecting the type of caulk. Depending on the leakage and the surface,  you will find different variants of caulks in the market. You have to pick the one that has the right value for your work. 

Step 1: Prepare the surface

A well-prepared surface and the preparation before fixing a joint will help you get a professional finish and a long-lasting sealing. It is important that you prepare the surface first before applying the caulk for the first time. If there are old caulks there remove them first, then clean and smoothen the surface for the application.

Use a putty knife or another same tool to remove the caulks from the joints. You can also use a heat gun to soften the old caulks, which will make the applying process easier. There are also some chemicals which can be used to remove the indoor/outdoor caulks as well. The surface should be completely free from dirt, paint, grease, oil, etc. 

Wire brushes are recommended to clean the surface. 

Step 2: Beware of the weather

Keeping the weather condition in mind is a must if you are applying caulks. This is the deciding factor for performance and durability of the caulks. 

Why is it important to keep in mind? 

Metals and other objects shrink or expand depending on the heat. If it is hot the surface will expand and shrink when it is cold. With this changes the size and shape of the joints changes as well.  

So, you have to apply the caulk keeping the adhesion of it in mind. 

Do not apply caulk or sealants if it is raining. Even if it has rained the day before your scheduled date of working, you have to wait for another 3 to 4 days so that the surface gets dry properly. A bad weather condition will lead to a bad experience. You might end up creating a mess instead. 

Step 3: Cut the nozzle properly

Cut on the nozzle tip determines the size of the bead which will come out of the tube of the caulk. By cutting the nozzle tip in different sizes you can make the proper caulk bead come out as per the crack or joint size.  

Want an expert tip?

Before starting to caulk please do a little bit of practice on a piece of paper or sheet to get used to the product dispense. It is important that you get used to the caulking gun and a smooth product dispenser before any stroke. 

Step 4: Applying caulk

There is a lot to talk about in this section. We are breaking it down into some sub-steps. To start with. You can caulk using a gun or directly from the tube. 

Applying from the tube: 

Using a caulk without a gun is a risky and messy step. It requires a lot more effort, patience, and care than using a gun. 

You have to apply a steady pressure on the tube holding it in the proper angle. Use your finger to level or make an even spreading of the caulks. An uneven squeeze can lead to a mess. This is why we recommend using a caulk gun instead. 

Caulking with a gun: 

When you are applying a bead of caulk it is important to hold the gun at an angle of 45 degrees and parallel to the joint that you want to fill. It is important to position the nozzle accurately into the joint surface. 

After applying the bead of the caulk every time, release the trigger of the caulk gun and pull the rod to stop the unwanted flow. It would be better to use 2 to 3’ of caulk at a time. It allows you much time to do tooling before the caulk dries out. 

Pull, don’t push: 

When caulking, Always keep in mind to pull the tube nozzle on the joint, not pushing it. If you run the nozzle along the surface, this allows a smooth application of the caulk. On the other hand, if you push it, it might harm the smooth flow and result in messy blobs. For such situations, it requires scrapping and starting over. 

Step 5: Tooling

For a better finish and good adhesion, it is necessary to tool your bead of caulk. It is the process of smoothing the bead of caulk after application. It smoothens the thick caulk and gives you a good adhesion. You can do tooling depending on what type of caulk you are using. You can use globes, your bare hands, pieces of wood which look like a spoon, or a paintbrush for foam. 

Always keep in mind not to scrape away a lot of caulk while tooling the joints. Another thing you should remember is that dried caulks are harder to remove than the wet ones. Keep the necessary tools ready to clean any spills or problem areas. 

You can use masking tape if you want. Masking tapes are helpful in creating smooth lines with less mess. Just be sure that the tooling is done before the drying of the caulk because it will pull away in a clean way and create a smooth line. 

Step: 6: Smoothing the joint:

After applying caulk it is important to smoothen the joints. Firstly, dip your fingers in rubbing alcohol (for silicone) or water (for latex) so that it doesn’t get stuck in your fingers. They also work as a lubricant or thinning agent in smoothing the joints. 

Simply put pressure using your fingers and smoothen the joints. Remove the excess caulk from your finger and dip them into water or alcohol again. 

If you are uncomfortable with it, dampen a corner of a cloth by water or alcohol as needed. 

Pro Tip:

Instead of applying directly from the tubes, using a caulk gun is a smart choice. This is a great solution if your hands shake a lot or if you have just started. A stable application is important for an aesthetic finish. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

When should you use caulk?

Ans: Caulks are used where there are leakage in joints to prevent the passing of air, water etc. It is recommended to use a caulk to seal joints up to 1/2  inches. If your crack or hole is wider than this you can use elastomeric products accompanied by caulks to fill in the joints. 

How do you make homemade caulk?

Ans: You can make your own homemade caulk for temporary fixes? A mixture of baking soda and wood glue makes a sticky homemade caulk. Take 2 table-spoon of baking soda and glue as needed. The stickier the mixture the greater the adhesion.  

If you can somehow put your DIY caulk in a tube, the application gets easier. Otherwise, it is a messy job. You can use it to do painting, moulding or similar types of touch ups. Don’t expect a long time fix from it. There are many type of modern caulks in the market. This is why there is no real need or reason to make your own. 

What can I use instead of caulk?

Ans: To be honest, there is nothing that you can use instead of caulk. Caulks have their specific jobs and there is nothing that can seal joints or fix cracks other than caulks. Some latex or polyurethane spray foams are used to fill in big holes or filling gaps around windows and doors. They are not as effective as caulk. 

What is the fastest way to cure caulking?

Ans: There are no effective ways to cure caulking. It is wiser to leave it to the temperature. Leaving it on the temperature the caulk dries well and solid. The adhesion is also found natural. Still, if you are desperate, you can use a blow dryer to speed up the process. Keep the temperature low or moderate and blow at least from 1ft distance. 

Can I use caulk as glue?

Ans: The answer is yes! You can use caulk as a glue. The siliconized, latex or acrylic latex are good adhesives. They are flexible and waterproof as well. So, if you are looking for a strong adhesion then you can use caulk as glue. 

Is caulk the same as filler?

Ans: Caulk and filler are two different things. Caulks fill gaps and remain flexible. On the other hand the filler fills things. 

Filler generally fills hard and can be sanded smooth. On other hand caulks are used where you get movement or expansion. 


In reality, the process of using caulks on any surface is really simple. The planning requires a short time but it affects the performance a lot. A person without knowing the simple steps can experience a messy and hazardous situation. 

You have to make some small vital decisions and work accordingly as told. Follow these undeniable steps and you will become an expert of using caulk.

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