Baths — Smoothing Silicone Caulk Plus Other Caulking Tips

100% silicone caulk has great adhesion and flexibility, making it the best choice for caulking around a bathtub, but it’s so sticky it can be hard to spread out evenly. The trick is to use ethyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol might also work) when you smooth the caulk bead.

Painters tape guarantees a nice finish when caulking

Painters tape guarantees a nice finish

Let the area where you are working dry completely. Moisture is one of the biggest reasons caulking jobs don't "take". Moisture prevents the caulk from making a secure bond with the tiles. Cut the tip of the caulking tube (no more than 1/16"). If the hole is too big, the more difficult it is to achieve a smooth finish. You want a small, even bead of silicone caulk for proper smoothing.

To Caulk

Put denatured alcohol in a plant mister type spray bottle.

 Use your caulking gun to apply a bead of 100% silicone caulk to the joint. Make sure the silicone has a 7-10 year guarantee against mildew.
Apply a fine mist of denatured alcohol to the caulking bead using the spray bottle.

Alcohol keeps caulk from sticking when caulking tile

The alcohol keeps the caulk from sticking.

Use your index finger to smooth the bead of caulking with your finger before the alcohol evaporates. You can also use the corner of a old credit or gift card. Wipe your finger off as the caulk accumulates. You'll notice that because of the alcohol, the caulk doesn't stick to your finger or the tile.

Move your finger slowly but steadily toward you. 

If you still end up with a excess silicone caulk smeared onto the tile or top of the tub, shower or sink, remove it promptly with a rag dipped in alcohol. Do not let it dry; if it does, you're going to have to call in the razor blades.

Further Information

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