Should you apply your own boat caulk?
The chance you'll find any boat owner who enjoys caulking their boat is doubtful. However, many still do it themselves. It's a handy skill to know, and allows you to take care of your boat so that it remains in great condition for as long as possible.
If you're thinking about applying your own boat caulk, what do you need to know?
Knowing what type of caulk you'll need
It's a tough job, but renewing caulking is important for avoiding leaks and maintaining the condition of your boat.
How you caulk your boat depends on whether you're working on it's hull, deck or other areas such as around windows. For example, if you're wanting to fix the sealing around your boat's windows, you'll want a different adhesive than if you're working on the hull of a wooden boat. However, a common sealant used is polyurethane.
If you're not sure about what tools and products you should use, make sure you pop in to your local marine shop and discuss it with the team there. They will help you figure out what sealant you need, and can help advise you on how to go about caulking your boat.
How to apply your own boat caulk
In this walk-through we'll use the example of renewing the caulk on a deck. Before beginning the process make sure you're wearing old clothes in case of staining, and that the area you want to caulk is completely dry.
1. Reef the seam
Removing any old caulk is essential, and is known as reefing the seam. Scrape the adhesive back, using a sharp knife or other appropriate tool, and remove as much of it as possible. Any residue can impact the adhesiveness of the new caulk. Often you can find a dissolvent to help, but this task is unavoidable. Taking your time is advised, as you'll want to avoid damaging the surface beneath the old caulking.
Once you've reefed the seam, apply a primer for the polyurethane solvent.
2. Line with tape
Before you begin applying the new caulk, line the seam with tape as you would when painting a house. This keeps the sealant from marking areas it shouldn't and helps make the caulking neat and tidy.
3. Cutting your caulking nozzle
You want the nozzle point's width a touch smaller than the seam you're caulking. Once you know where you want to cut it, do so at an approximately 45 degree angle to create an oval hole. This will allow a good bead to form when you begin.
4. Push the gun
If you haven't applied caulking before, it's wise to practise on an old piece of wood first, before moving onto your boat.
You might instinctively attempt to pull the gun along to leave a line of seal behind it. However, you'll generally find that a neater and more even result is achieved when you push instead. Move the gun steadily, and at the same rate as you're pushing the caulk out. A good indication of how you're doing with this is always seeing a slight mound of sealant in front of your nozzle as you're moving it.
5. Smooth the caulk
Before your caulk dries and hardens, smooth it out over the seam. How long the sealant will take to skin over depends on the type you're using and environmental factors.
With a gloved finger that's been dipped in water or dishwashing liquid, smooth over the bead of caulk. Wipe your digit clean between each sweep for best results. Once this is completed, go back and remove the tape before the caulk skins over. Avoid walking on the boat's deck until the caulk has fully cured to avoid damaging the seal.
If you'd like support or advice around best practices for maintaining your boat, make sure you head into Hunts Marine and talk to the friendly team.