In this article, we are going to explain how to seal with the correct tools for the best sealant finish. If you are inexperienced at caulking it can be a messy job, but all you need is the correct tools to make it as seamless as possible.

Sealants are important as they stop leakages and eliminate fluids passing through the surface they are protecting, not only that they can save you money on your energy bills by stopping drafts from entering your home through gaps around your windows or doors.

If you use this information below as a guide then you will be able to create the perfect sealant with the perfect finishing tools.


What is Caulking?

Caulking is a material used to seal the joints against seams in various structures. A caulk finishing tool is used to press the caulk into the joint and smooth the caulk bead.

The smooth finish gives a professional appearance which is what we always look to aim for. A bumpy uneven surface can give an untidy finish.


Difference Between Caulking and Sealant

The difference between caulking and sealant is a commonly asked question. The terms ‘caulk’ and ‘sealant’ are often used interchangeably as they are both used to fill in joints and seams. The biggest difference between caulk and sealant however is the elasticity.

Caulk is typically made from a mixture of latex and acrylic materials which makes it more rigid and prone to shrinking when cured. It is intended to be used in areas with minimal expansion and contraction. Latex is better used on surfaces that are porous or uneven such as stoned tiles or wood trim.

Sealants are made from flexible material - commonly silicone. Making them ideal for areas prone to expansion and contraction. Silicone sealant adheres best to slick nonporous surfaces such as glass, ceramic tile and metal.


Why Use a Finishing Tool

When you squeeze caulk or sealant into a gap, it will overflow out of the gap. Although you should always apply a continuous bead, the surface of the caulk is often at first rough when you dispense it. In order to get a smooth caulk, it must be smoothed before it sets. This is when a finishing tool comes into use, forcing the caulk securely and neatly down into a gap whilst trimming away all the excess for a smooth and seamless finish.


What You Can Use As a Finishing Tool

A finishing tool is usually made of either plastic, rubber or stainless steel. The key is for the tool to be flexible enough to glide over a fresh bead of caulk and allows for it to be smoothed down without making a mess.

Stainless steel finishing tools often have a wood handle to grip while dragging the stainless steel blade across the caulk. Plastic or silicone finishing tools on the other hand are often tongue-shaped and are designed for the whole tool to be gripped and dragged along the bead of the sealant. At GGR Glass we have a range of sealant finishing tools within our glazing tools section for your needs, they are simple and effective tools that come at a low cost that will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to any kind of sealing.


You Can Use a Finger

If you do have a sealant tool or perhaps you are doing this as a one time DIY job and don’t wish to purchase a tool for one-time usage only. You can use your finger as a sealant tool if you need to, this is the old fashioned method, yet works just as well if you do it correctly and do not have a dedicated tool to hand.

Once you finish squeezing a water-based caulk into a gap or crack, you can smooth the bead by moistening your finger with water and running it along the line of the caulk. Do not let your finger become too caked with the caulk as you do this, as this will not result in a smooth finish. Make sure you have a wet sponge or paper towel nearby, so you can wipe your finger clean whilst you work away.


Other Tool Alternatives

Some other household items are available and effective to use as alternatives to a specialised tool or a finger. For a homemade sealant finishing tool you can use the back of a plastic spoon along the caulk - or you can also carefully use the handle of an old toothbrush to do this. One last alternative is to use a wet rag to smooth out any sealants.


How to Remove Caulking

Some caulking is waterproof which prevents water damage and leakage around bathrooms and windows. Waterproof caulk can, however, peel, crack, turn yellow or become mildewy with age and without being properly looked after meaning it will need to be replaced at some point.

It is worth noting the correct way to do this and what you will need to remove the old waterproof caulk, this is a simple process that only requires a few supplies. Read on for steps on how to do this.

  1. Scrape off the caulk from the surface with a scraping tool such as a utility knife, putty knife or scraper. In some stores, you can find special caulk removal tools designed to scrape the caulk out, this could be particularly useful when you get to the corners, where it might be more of a difficult area to tackle.
  2. Apply a caulk removal solvent if some caulk does not scrape off very easily, or for any remaining stubborn caulk that didn’t scrape away. Chemicals from specially formulated remover can help remove any stubborn caulk more easily with less physical effort. Once you have done this you can rinse off any solvent residue.
  3. Next, wipe down the surface with rubbing alcohol or some other disinfectant solvent, this removes any remaining traces of caulk and the alcohol or disinfectant will also help to get rid of any mould spores to prevent mould from growing beneath the new caulk.
  4. Rinse off any alcohol and disinfectant and allow to dry completely before resealing with new caulk or sealant.