It's easy to spot a novice caulk job: There are often two "wings" on either side of the main strip of caulk. This excess caulk doesn't offer any additional protection and makes the area look untidy. If the caulk has already dried, removing all of the caulk and reapplying a fresh bead produces the best results. A couple of tricks reduce the chances of excess caulk building up in the first place, and you can always remove excess caulk by wiping it up while it's still wet.
Removing Excess Dry Caulk
If you don't want to remove all of the caulk and start over, you can try to carefully remove the excess caulk with a sharp razor blade or scraper. This method improves the appearance of the caulk from afar, but a "lip" on the caulk might appear more obvious on closer inspection.
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To avoid ripping up all of the caulk, start by scoring a line to represent the new edge of the caulk. Then, hold the razor blade at a low angle and push just one edge under the excess caulk to lift it. Try to think of the razor blade like a snow plow; don't shove the entire blade under the caulk at once.
Take your time so that you do not accidentally remove too much caulk. However, the main strip of caulk often comes off easily or can be scrubbed off with the help of a product like Goo Gone. It doesn't take too much more time to remove it and apply a fresh coat of caulk. Just remember to thoroughly clean the area before applying new caulk and follow a few tips for preventing excess caulk.
Tricks to Prevent Excess Caulk
To prevent excess caulk when applying a fresh bead, consider placing painter's tape above and below the area. Leave a gap just large enough for the caulk to joint both surfaces. When you smooth the caulk, the excess will slide onto the painters' tape. Pull up the painters' tape while the caulk is still wet and a clean line of caulk will be left behind.
It's also important to cut the tip of the caulk tube to the correct size. If the opening is too large, too much caulk will come out, and it will spread out in every direction when it's time to smooth the bead. Start by cutting just a small section off the tip. Continue cutting off smaller sections if the caulk seems difficult to squeeze out.
Finally, remember to keep the caulk tube moving at a steady pace while you squeeze the trigger. If you need to stop moving to readjust your grip, stop squeezing the trigger. This will prevent extra-large blotches of caulk from building up along the bead.
Removing Excess Wet Caulk
Even the pros create excess caulk now and then. Fortunately, excess wet caulk can be wiped up easily. If using a silicone caulk, use a dry paper towel to remove unwanted caulk. Wipe up acrylic caulk with a damp sponge. Rinse the sponge frequently or switch to a new one to avoid smearing the excess caulk and making an even bigger mess.