“Caulking is both an art and a science,” says Bruce Emery, Construction Manager at Chipotle Mexican Grill and resident caulking expert. So much so that he recently hosted a caulking seminar in Dallas for Chipotle-approved GC’s to learn the secrets to superior caulking. Caulking has multiple purposes:
- Blending transitions between materials.
- Eliminating joint situations that would allow dirt, food, grease, dirty water or even waste to collect and allow mold/mildew to grow. It also serves to fill voids so insects or pests can’t nest or hide.
- Hiding imperfections that occurred during installation of materials by others.
Below are 10 Key Steps to Success in your next caulking project:
- Good surface and joint preparation is critical to a professional, long-lasting caulking job. Make sure surfaces are clean and free of oils.
- When caulking tile transitions, make sure the tile subcontractor does not grout joints that are intended to be caulked.
- As a rule, use backer rods for joints wider than ¼. Using a backer rod is less expensive than filling the joint with caulk and provides for better adhesion.
- Make sure to check the temperature limits of the caulk you plan on using in cases where you are caulking above or around a fryer or grill.
- Use the right gun for the job. A piston-actuated gun will allow for a consistent flow of material regardless of the density of the material being used.
- Before you start, figure out how much pressure to apply for proper application. Make sure the size of the tip is appropriate to the size of the seam.
- Don’t rush the process. The best results come from a well-measured pace and pressure. The amount of pressure that you apply needs to be in sync with the pace in which you move the gun.
- The most common mistake is to use one’s finger to smooth the joint. The best technique is to back tool the caulk by removing high points of the excess material.
- If the caulking stands out, and does not blend-in with surfaces it has been applied to, the job was poorly done.
- Caulking is more important than you realize. A good caulking job results in a good, clean fit and finished look!
The best compliment I ever received was when a client walked in and asked “why are we paying this guy so much, he hasn’t done a thing?” The superintendent responded, “He’s finished. And, THAT is why we’re paying him so much.” – Bruce Emery
Wyatt Management thanks Chipotle for helping us up our game in caulking!