Simple Solutions

Tip for Smoothing Silicone Caulk

By: Joe Truini
Misting a bead of silicone caulking with denatured alcohol to make it easy to spread.

Misting silicone caulking with denatured alcohol to make it easy to spread.

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.

To make it easier to spread silicone caulking:

  1. Put denatured alcohol in a plant mister type spray bottle.
  2. Use a caulking gun to apply a bead of 100% silicone caulk to the joint.
  3. Apply a fine mist of denatured alcohol to the caulking bead using the spray bottle.
  4. Use your finger to smooth the bead of caulking with your finger before the alcohol evaporates.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Joe Truini: I’m caulking this tub with 100% silicone caulk. And I like using 100% silicone for two reasons. One, it’s got great adhesion—it sticks to almost anything. And it’s really flexible, so over time it won’t break free.

Now, the downside of 100% silicone is it is not water soluble, so you’ll have to clean up with a solvent. And also, it’s so sticky that when you try to smooth it out with your finger, sometimes you can either pull it out of the joint or leave a really rough surface.

So, here is the trick, and this works great. I learned this trick from a reader, Herman. And what he suggested is using denatured alcohol. You put it in a little pump sprayer like this, a little plant mister, and just very lightly mist the surface.

That’s all you need, just a little light coating. And that allows your finger to just glide right along. Look at that. How perfect is that? What you end up with is a perfectly smooth bead, each and every time.


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2 Comments on “Tip for Smoothing Silicone Caulk”

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  • Official Comment:

    Joe T. Says:
    September 18th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Hi Wally, I’m so glad that our silicone-smoothing tip worked for you. It’s often the little tricks that really make the difference. Thanks again and good luck!–Joe. T.

  • Wally Says:
    September 15th, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    This was one of best how-to tips I’ve come across. I wish I had known about this when I recaulked some seams on my RV; what a mess that was (and still is). My shower stall came out perfect thanks to your tip. I found out that starting with a uniform bead is important for a good result.

    Thanks for the great tip!


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Tip for Smoothing Silicone Caulk