How to be neat with Silicone Caulk?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Snowman, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. Snowman

    Snowman New Member

    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    FLORIDA
    Hi,
    I have tried for years to develop a "technique" for applying silicone caulk. That stuff drives me crazy :( . No matter how hard I try, I can not smooth it out like the latex/silicone stuff. Plus it is the messiest stuff to try and get off of ANYTHING. I know it is an excellent caulk, but so hard to work with.

    Would someone do a good deed and tell me (us) the secret to working with the stuff and getting a nice smooth bead with nice smooth edges. How do you tool it?? How do you level it out??

    Thanks, Tom :rolleyes:
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,360
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I have pretty good luck smoothing it out with a wet finger.
  3. PEW

    PEW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    487
    Another suggestion, don't over apply before smoothing out. It is very easy to apply an excess amount. I have also found a wet finger one of the best tools around.

    Paul
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Some folks take the time to put a masking tape border on the seam. Then you can be a liittle messy with smoothing the caulk, and peal the tape.

    I don't like silicone that much, but it does last longer. I do always use in on the inner seams of shower doors. I like the DAP Kwikseal much better for most applications. PolySeamSeal is also very good.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2005
  5. srdenny

    srdenny Plumbing Contractor

    Messages:
    361
    Location:
    SF Peninsula
    I'm with Jimbo when it comes to Polyseamseal. Dap is a bit runny for me. As for Silicone caulk; when I have to use it, I keep a can of denatured alcohol and a clean rag handy for cleanup. If you want expert advice on Silicone caulk, you should ask a glazer who specializes in shower walls and doors. They can work magic with the stuff.
  6. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    calk

    Polyseamseal for me.
    Don't like silicone......
  7. Cal

    Cal New Member

    Messages:
    228
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Silicone is the WAY to go !! Most folks have had a bad time with it because they treat it like regular caulk .

    DO NOT cut the end at a large angle . DO NOT try to go over it again while it is wet .

    Cut a small angle and hole , run the silicone in a steady bead , wipe with a clean index finger .

    After application, clean your hands with de-natured alchohol (sp?) or something that will get it off .

    Been doing this a LONG time and have found if I slow down ,,,,, it works out SO much better !!

    Cal
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Cal: Thanks for the helpful tips!
  9. I don't have to use caulk that much in plumbing, maybe around chrome trim or the backsplash of a vanity. I've probably only laid one good bead in my life. I know where and what it was, it happened by accident and whatever I did, the customer was watching and he couldn't believe how good it looked. I've done numerous jobs since then just here and there around trim in a tub or shower, can't seem to match it. I don't know if anyone else experiences this with age but my hands shake when doing detail work. Not a whole lot, but I catch myself noticing it every now and then. Don't smoke or drink caffeine either. Someone called my caulk job a bunch of gorilla turds once...what can I say :eek: :rolleyes:
  10. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    calk

    Thats whats nice about Polyseamseal and a wet cloth or sponge..........
  11. Snowman

    Snowman New Member

    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    FLORIDA
    Thanks very much.

    Great tips........ Yes, Paul, that was one of my problems.

    Jimbo, srdenny, and plumber1, I have always had good smooth beads with Polyseam Seal too.

    Cal, that's what I'll try next time with the silicone. Thanks! Never knew about the denatured alcohol that you and srdenny suggested. :)

    RUGGED, that sounds like some of mine.. :rolleyes:

    Thanks guys, Regards, Tom
  12. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    On the alcohol, I think isopropyl ( rubbing alcohol ) works, but denatured works much better. It is available in all the paint stores, depots. etc.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,843
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    silicone

    Masking tape along both edges and smooth it with a wet finger. Pull the tape as soon as you finish making the bead.
  14. TedL

    TedL New Member

    Messages:
    604
    Location:
    NY Capital District
    Disposable gloves, the blue or green ones, make cleaning up the "wet" finger a non issue.
  15. Douche

    Douche New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Delaware
    There is a small tool that you can buy at Lowes or HD that really smooths the caulk nicley. Its shaped like an arrow head w/ a handle except the tip is rounded. Does a nice job...
  16. markts30

    markts30 Commercial Plumber

    Messages:
    630
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Another trick I use for silicone is to put the bead on and then smooth it with my finger dipped in liquid soap.
    It smooths really well and doesn ot stick to the soap so no residue on the finger to clean off....
  17. petergunn

    petergunn New Member

    Messages:
    26
    back of fingernail

    Warning: Advice from DIY Newbie

    For some reason I like caulking. Ive caulked all around the windows in my house, around tubs, showers, etc. even filled in the cracks in the baseboards and coving. Now, while I'm probably using the wrong caulks in the wrong places I have mastered the art of getting nice neat flat lines.

    Here is what I do:

    1) Caulk roughly along the edge - try to get a reasonably even bead. I go all the way around the tub in one go then go back and fill in any bits I missed.

    2) Run your index finger along the seam in one direction from end to end, then go back in the other direction using the back of your thumb nail. I wear latex gloves. When done right this displaces the caulk into 3 lines - a nice neat line in the seam, and rough ones from the dispolaced caulk on the tile and tub. Key is that there is an area between the seam and the displaced caulk that is completely clean. You may have to wipe your hands a few time if you put to much caulk on at the start.

    3) Wait a few minutes until the rough lines have started to set but are still soft, then go around with an old credit card and peel them off. They should come off easily and leave little or no residue.

    Result is a perfectly smooth seam with no fussying.

    Works for me :)
  18. steveg91

    steveg91 New Member

    Messages:
    30
    Hi all, Is denatured alcohol likely to harm escetcheons, satin or chrome???

    Thanks, Steve
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