How to Caulk like a Pro

 Tub and shower areas specifically

Like anything, practice makes perfect, and this is no different.

If you’re only doing it this one time, it won’t be perfect, but it will be far better than if you weren’t In-The-Know…

It would be best if you read this over a few times first and prepared everything you need beforehand.

A standard 30”x 60”, tiled tub/shower enclosure takes roughly 45 minutes to caulk well (like a professional) on new, clean surfaces (or after proper preparation if previously caulked), which in some cases can take upwards of 4 hours.

After completion, you SHOULD NOT use the tub/shower for a full 12 hours for a proper cure, as a rule (but this can vary depending on brand of caulk and ambient temperature/humidity).

ONLY use 100% pure silicone caulk (NOT silicone rubber) that is specifically designed for wet environments like tub/shower area (the caulk should have a vinegary smell to it when open – this is only temporary).


If joints transition between wet and dry areas (tub/surround to drywall or similar surfaces that can/will be painted/stained), use ONLY a latex or “siliconized” latex caulk that is PAINTABLE (particularly if all you have is clear caulk) because you’ll see the paint colour through the caulk, and if you decide to repaint at a later date you’ll still see the previous colour through the caulk.

*NOTE*, silicone CAN NOT be painted unless you peel, scrape, sand, apply primer/sealer and re-paint!

Clear caulk is usually best (provided there are no big gaps or ugliness in any location to be caulked – because you’ll see it through the caulk), otherwise use color-matched caulk if possible.

Done correctly, it leaves a nice, sharp line between surfaces/materials, without being seen.

You don’t want to highlight the caulking, it’s only there as a sealant (although some folks have been known to use it to cover poor workmanship).

Clean the hell outta any area to be caulked first (with high % content of rubbing alcohol or white vinegar), being certain to dry it completely afterwards (another reason alcohol is better/easier is because it evaporates faster).

A hairdryer or heat & strip gun works wonders to speed up the drying process, just be careful not to overheat and melt, burn/discolour any surrounding materials.

Try not to touch the freshly cleaned surface before applying the caulking to maximize bonding.

A properly caulked joint needn’t necessarily be large to create a good seal.
Use ONLY a MINIMAL amount of caulk – a bead of 1/8” is usually all that is required if the mating surfaces have been done correctly.
It is possible to do a second coat (if absolutely necessary), but only after the first layer is fully cured. That said, too much can make things really messy and is a bitch to remove.
If you do muck-up, wait until it has fully cured before attempting removal (if you are new to the process), or you can do more damage than good.

Caulking can be applied via a “caulking gun” with a rigid tube of caulk inserted, or with a softer, squeezable tube – which is best for tight areas where the standard, larger caulking guns won’t fit (like behind the faucet on most sinks).

If using a “gun” applicator; when stopping a “bead”, relieve the pressure on the drive piston by pressing the release lever at the back of the gun to minimize “oozing” of any caulk from the tube, and remember to place the dispensing tip over a piece of scrap paper or rag – just in case.

Before starting, remove any obstacles that can impede your access to the area to be caulked if possible.

Keep a couple of old rags handy for wiping fingers etc. as they are much better than tissues or paper towels because the latter will come apart and stick to your fingers during the process. Lint free cloths/rags are best. Also, keep a small container of water close by for “tooling” the caulk after application (licking your finger works too, but there could be an occasion when you forget to wipe your finger before sticking it back in your mouth and it’s not pleasant – trust me).

Start at the top and work downwards, beginning with the large back wall sides, then the end walls and tub joints. That way if there was/is any crap left behind after the cleaning process it won’t fall down into the fresh caulk. Once you reach the end of the joint (or meet the end of the first half of a longer joint), relieve pressure from the caulking tube and pull it away.
Put the tube of caulk down where the dispensing tip is on or above a piece of paper, tissue (or something disposable) so any drips or oozes don’t get on anything.

Only apply caulk to one joint at a time, “tooling” each one immediately following application. For longer beads/joints (such as the long horizontal joint where the back wall meets the tub or the long vertical corners of shower walls for instance), start from one end and work your way to the middle, stop, then do the same from the opposite end. Once you reach the spot where you stopped previously, just continue slightly past it (to blend it) while relieving pressure on the tube/trigger.

You will need to wipe and wet your finger before “tooling or blending” the 2 halves together.

DO NOT tool with a dry finger – UNLESS you are actually trying to remove caulk.


Wet a finger (you choose the appropriate digit – depending on the location, area and size of the joint) and very gently press it into the center of the caulked joint between the 2 surfaces, starting at one end.
Keep an even pressure across the bead on both sides of the joint and go as far as you can comfortably, stopping before you either have to change angle/position, or if you see/feel a build-up of caulking below your tooling finger.

If you get build up under your finger, it’s probably because you’ve applied too much caulk, too much pressure, had too little water on your finger, or a combination of 2 or more of the above. Wipe off the excess on a rag (being careful where you put it down and how you pick it up afterwards).

*If you remove your finger for any reason, wipe and wet it again (to be certain it’s clean before sticking it somewhere, or so it will glide effortlessly across the bead/joint.

When tooling, don’t be afraid to wet finger often, but don’t “soak” the caulk.

Once you have finished, don’t touch or get it wet again until fully cured.

Good luck, and happy caulking!


Permits – Cover Your ASSets

“Permits are a cash grab, the government just wants your money”

That’s a crock, and if you believe it – you could be an accident waiting to happen.

Whether required or not, there are a number of incredibly good reasons why you SHOULD get a permit and/or have an inspection done by a professional when doing any substantial renovations to your home (even a simple bathroom update might require one).

Because homeowners are allowed to do repairs/upgrades themselves doesn’t it’s a good idea to do so. Most don’t have the knowledge, experience or tools for the undertaking in the first place, and then often don’t use the appropriate materials or follow codes (building, fire/safety, etc), let alone get permits to do so.

Regardless of skills etc, in most cities/towns the law require that homeowners get any and all applicable permits BEFORE doing any modifications that affect structure, or utility (you should always check with your local authority for details).

Unfortunately if that’s how you roll, it won’t necessarily only be you who suffers if something goes wrong down the line. Poorly executed projects can cost lives, create health and financial issues, lawsuits, heartbreak, and a myriad of unwanted experiences that nobody should have to deal with – at any time.

Permits are an insurance policy on you and your insurance.

When you apply for a permit, it’s more than just documentation (which by the way, can be VERY useful for future reference), it’s also a way to ensure things are done correctly/safely. It means your insurance claim won’t be denied – in the event you need to make one. Let’s face it, insurance companies will look for ANY reason NOT to cover you (regardless of what your agent said when you signed on the dotted line).

Most permits generally include 2 inspections in the price – a rough inspection and a final inspection. And whether it’s for foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing – whatever, a permit can save your ass.

Having the inspections means that if the work being done (by you or others) isn’t up to snuff (minimum code or fire/safety standards), it will be flagged and require correction before getting a stamp of approval; making it safe for you, your family, your guests or whomever purchases the home after the fact. That in itself should be enough to convince most to go “by the book”, but it’s often not the case.

Inasmuch as your “Friendly Insurance Agent/Broker” says that s/he is doing the best they can to protect and cover you/your family in case of emergency, the shareholders of that company don’t give a rats ass about you, and will do whatever it takes to save their bottom line. Since their bottom line is affected by payouts, you can be damn sure they’ll find any reason/loophole to get out of paying a claim. One of those reasons is fraud – lying to them.

I’ve heard it a thousand times, “I’ll do it myself, and just tell_____ that is was that way when I purchased/moved in…

Almost every piece of construction material manufactured today has various codes marked on them in numerous places. Those codes include information that the product adheres to certain construction/safety standards, and also a Date of Manufacture. The date code shows EXACTLY when a product was manufactured, and even if it’s not visible, a quick look at the material and a few specific measurements will tell a great deal about it’s age.

If your house burns down (while you are living in it or after it selling it) and the cause is found to be faulty wiring (for instance), an immediate investigation is done to find out how old the home is, when the wiring in question was manufactured, and if all applicable permits and inspections were done at the time of installation. If the wiring is newer than the home, an investigation into permits pulled after the fact will be done. If no permit/inspection documentation can be found which correlates to the date of manufacturing on the materials in question, any insurance claim(s) may very well be denied. Not only that, but if the resulting fire led to damage or loss of others’ property, or worse, injury or fatality – criminal charges and lawsuits could possibly ensue.

With or without insurance, you could still be criminally charged and sued if you had anything at all to do with it, and trust me – the insurance companies and applicable authorities will know who was living in the home when the work was done.

So, whether you DIY (Do It Yourself) or have others perform the work, you should ALWAYS ensure that all applicable permits have been pulled and inspections are completed. Be certain to get a LICENSED AUTHORITY to sign-off on the work (putting their stamp of approval on it), taking the responsibility away from you and covering your assets.

Better safe, than sorry.