Caulking is used to fill and seal cracks and voids. There are five different types of caulking available:

  1. Oil-Based Caulking -Although inexpensive and versatile, this caulking tends to dry out and crack.
  2. Polyvinyl Acetate Caulk­ing - This is a good quality product for most surfaces. The cost is average and it will last much longer than oil-based caulking.
  3. Latex Caulking - Sometimes known as "painter's caulking." this product is quick drying.
  4. Silicone Caulking - This is the best type of caulking. It costs a bit more, but can last up to 50 years on some surfaces. Since silicone caulking does not take paint well, it is available in colors.
  5. Butyl Rubber Caulking - Butyl is the same quality as silicone, and is best for sealing masonry joints.

To test the soundness of a caulked joint, press the blade of a putty knife into the caulking. If the caulking cracks and falls out, you should remove the caulking and apply new material.

First load the caulking gun by inserting the cartridge. Then, with a utility knife, cut the plastic nozzle at a 45-degree angle. The nozzle is tapered, so cut the angle to span to the width of the crack. For example, if the crack is 1/4" wide, cut the nozzle at 1/4."

With a 16D nail, puncture the seal between the nozzle and the cartridge and poke the nail down the cartridge. Before applying the caulking, be sure to remove the old caulking, putty and dirt. A wire brush often helps to roughen the surface so the caulking can adhere better.

To operate the caulking gun, turn the plunger in back of the tube, engaging the trigger mechanism. As you pull the trigger, the plunger will be forced into the cartridge, and the material will squeeze out of the nozzle and flow into the crack.

Hold the gun at a 45-degree angle, pull the trigger and simultaneously pull the caulking gun down the crack. Never "push" it up the crack. If you pull the gun too slowly, the crack will overfill. If you move too quickly, the caulking will be too thin and will not fill the crack. With little practice, the final caulking job will be smooth. Occasionally, the surface of the caulking will look rough and uneven. To smooth it, dip your finger in a cup of water and lightly run your finger down the caulking.

When you finish, immediately turn the plunger, thus releasing the pressure so the caulking doesn't ooze out of the nozzle. If there is any caulking left in the cartridge, stick a 16D or 20D nail into the nozzle to keep the caulking fresh for your next project.