Here I am, minding my own business, brushing my teeth, and TRYING to start my day. I can hear my children racing through the house, much like a stampede of elephants. Thump…thump thump…CRASH!!! ”MOM!!!” Shaking my head at what I have to face when I step out that door, I see it. With a damp finger, I gently touch it…testing it.
The Caulk. Running my hands through my morning hair, I lean in for a closer look. Yep. It was just what I thought. The caulking between the bathroom counter and the wallboard was coming loose. Clearing everything away from the edge, I see that it is coming up 2/3s of the way down the counter. Signing, and hearing yet another thump, I have yet another thing added to my list.
Caulking is not something that can be ignored. Loose or lack of caulking around windows results in both energy loss and structural damage to walls. In other words, HUGE $$$ out of your pocket. This is also true of insufficient caulking in bathrooms and kitchens. If the caulk is not strong and secure, moisture seeps into counters and walls, causing serious water damage. Having re-caulked in another room in the house at the beginning of the year, I know that it will take about 45 minutes of my time to thoroughly prepare and replace the caulk on that counter. Luckily, being the beginning of the weekend, I know that I have plenty of time to fit it in…and share it with you!
5 in 1 Tool or Utility Knife & Razor Scraper
A Caulking Gun Loaded with Appropriate Caulk
A glass of water
A Good DIY Reference Book…or this blog post ; )
- You will need to thoroughly clean and scrape away all the old caulk. Honestly, this is the most time consuming step. I have found the good music goes a long way. Maybe a little CCR or Hendrix, anyone?? Jefferson Airplane is also good about now. All I know is that music that can make you move is a very good thing when you may not want to.
- Next, load up your caulking gun. I prefer one that has a nice thumb tab that stops the caulk when you want it too. A trigger instead of a clicker is preferable as well. These little luxuries just make the job a little cleaner. Now is the time to actually look at the area you are caulking. How big of a “bead” do you actually need?? You want something that appropriately covers the crevice, but doesn’t overload your surface with excess “goop” (my daughter’s word). This will determine how much of the tip you cut off of your caulking tube. The further you cut off of the tip of your tube, the thicker the bead of caulk will be. I tend to trim on the small size and work my way thicker…there is NO working backwards. A utility knife works great for this….remember! CUT AWAY from you. Once you trim the tip, put an appropriately sized nail in the tip to close it off.
- Being that I really do not like a lot of extra clean up when I am done, I tape off the area that I am going to caulk to create a barrier. Call me weird..that is just what I prefer to do. Occasionally an “oops” will happen…and this prevents the “oops” from becoming another word that I will refrain from writing here. Little ears, folks…little ears!
- Now, if you haven’t caulked before, for your own sense of self worth, I recommend that you test out how the caulking gun will actually feel in you hands by practicing on a piece of paper. Just feel and see what you will need to do to create a nice even stream. Remember, you can always wipe clean and start over. The more you practice, the smoother it gets. You might actually find that you like it.
- Now it is time to caulk that line. With nice even pressure, create a bead of caulk right on the crevice…creating a snake. Once that snake it down, using that glass of water, dip your finger in the water and gently run it down, over the top, of the snake…creating a concave protective layer of caulking over the crevice.
Wash your hands and let it dry for at least 1 hour.
- Make sure to plug the hole in the caulking gun with an appropriately sized nail. This will allow you to have everything you need the next time you are brushing your teeth, hearing the kids screaming in the background, and see that this needs to be done again!
- Once the caulk is dry, remove the tape and admire your handiwork!
Like everything in a house, caulking has to be maintained. By doing this very simple task, you are preventing serious structural damage caused by moisture in your home. When we lived in Europe, our home had been sorely neglected. Honestly, I had no idea where to start. Though we were “just tenants,” I had a hard time living in a home that had such poor health. Water damage was EVERYWHERE. I don’t know if the family had ever caulked in the house at all. Needless to say, when we moved to the Pacific, caulking was one of the things that I deliberately looked for. Now, living in a home that is healthy and happy, I don’t mind getting the caulking gun out and helping her out when needed….even if I discover it before I have had my morning coffee and the kids are SCREAMING through the house!
A note of thanks to The Tomboy Tools Guide to Home Improvement for their beautifully written, step by step directions that guided me through my very first caulking job!