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Old 05-21-2018, 08:29 AM   #1
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Caulking Woes

Yesterday Joy and I decided to recaulk some items on the roof top, A couple of antenna bases, a search light base, and an anchor light base. We removed everything and cleaned off old caulk and got everything ready to reinstall. I laid out all new screws for eveything and moved all the tools out the way and got the caulking ready. This was all going pretty good and then it turned to crap. I always use way too much caulk and can't find the original screw holes, pickup the wrong screw for the hole ,caulking all over the tools and everything including us. I wound up with caulk in my armpitnow I have a half waxed armpit. I'm glad it's on the roof top and the only person that will notice and comment is the guy next to us that sits in his flybridge all the time.
We finished and cleaned everything up, relaxed on the aft deck, drank a couple beers and a good laugh about it all. There has to be a better way to go about this.
Does anyone want to share some caulking techniques? I know there has to be a better way. I seem to start out with what I think is a good plan but it almost always turns into a huge mess.
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:37 AM   #2
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Butyl tape.

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Old 05-21-2018, 09:22 AM   #3
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Butyl tape.

Here's some tips and source for good quality B Tape. Better than caulk you can keep partial used and it doesn't harden like caulks. Counter sink is best practice w caulk or B T.

https://marinehowto.com/bed-it-tape/
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:23 AM   #4
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I just bedded in a new transucer with Sikaflex and white goo is spread pretty much everywhere from my hat to the floor of the engine room. I think it goes with the job, very similar results to using teak deck caulking. Just don’t touch yourself until you have stripped down after one of these events; armpits, eh? That’s a new one, did you have to scratch? I agree with butyl tape, not sure why I chose Sikaflex...?
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:28 AM   #5
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If caulk us a must...below water line masking surrounding area helps as does rubber gloves. When I layed syn teak deck many precut rags also helps... one wipe and toss in a trash box. Clean tools often and toss rags. Proper solvent on hand also helps.
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:32 AM   #6
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Here's some tips and source for good quality B Tape. Better than caulk you can keep partial used and it doesn't harden like caulks. Counter sink is best practice w caulk or B T.

https://marinehowto.com/bed-it-tape/
Thanks boathealer and Bacchus. This is a great article. I always think about butyl tape but I've never tried it. Going to next time for sure.
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:54 AM   #7
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Yes, I have been coated with 4200 and 4000 before. Isopropyl alcohol seemed to have done a good job cleaning my hands and tools before the caulk cured. I find that marking the area with painters tape around the object being bedded makes for easier clean-up.
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:22 AM   #8
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Here's the way I do it:

For deck fittings, use 3M 4000 UV, this is a polyether and yellows much less in the sun. Prepare by having near at hand a roll of paper towels, mineral spirits, and a large box.

Temporarily mount the fitting then tape tight around it - I mean 1/64 or less from the edge. Sealant not under the flange does no good and may do damage long term to the joint. Also tape around the flange on the fitting if it is practical (it usually is). What you will see untaped is just the gap between deck and fitting, and maybe a tiny bit of each. Remove the fitting and apply caulk liberally enough that you get good squeeze out. Tighten the screws nearly, but not all the way tight. Using a square ended tongue depressor (the West Systems plastic ones work well and can be reused), rake the squeeze out to the tape and flange, removing all the caulking you can without undercutting the joint. On each swipe, wipe the excess off on a paper towel. Never reuse any part of the towel twice: wipe, fold that soiled bit inside, wipe again, fold inside, when you run out of towel deposit it in the box. If you get any in on your hands or anything else, slow down, clean it with mineral spirits and continue. Unless it is sunny, warm, and humid, you have lots of time. The mess is invariably from trying to wipe twice with the same towel, or from strings getting on hands and tools then spreading like wildfire in dry grass. Do not rely on a paper bag or just a pile for the soiled paper towels, you will regret it - put them in a box.

When you've removed all you can with the tongue depressor, tighten the screws and give it one last rake. Wipe any further excess with paper towels, again not undercutting and again turning the soiled towel inside after each stroke and throwing it in the box if there is any doubt. With a normal fitting and good work with the tongue depressor, this won't be necessary. When the joint looks pretty clean and you can see the edges of the tape clearly, peel the tape. Be careful when you do this as it will tend to blow about and it is sticky on the back side with caulk even though most of it should have been cleaned off. Peel carefully, handling by the adhesive side of the tape so you don't get caulk on your hands. Deposit the tape in the box. With the tape peeled you are done. Avoid the temptation to make 'just one more pass' - you will only make it worse. There should be no caulk on the deck or fitting flange if you've taped it right, it will only be visible in the edge of the joint. The 'finger fillet' or meniscus of caulk you often see around fittings does no good, fails early, and should be avoided. Throw the box away and have a beer.

There is an alternative method, taping as above, letting the caulk squeeze out, then leave it alone till it goes off. Then cut the squeezed out bead with a knife, and remove with the tape. In my experience this will not be a neat in the end, and you invariably cut through the finish on the deck when attempting to cut the sealant.
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:24 AM   #9
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I use the above mentioned butyl wherever possible. I donít use it unless the item is thru bolted, not screwed on. With screws I canít get enough pressure to squeeze out the butyl without stripping the screw hole. Love butyl tape. For caulking I have gone to Sika products. Did some black caulking Sunday and came home with it on the back of my arm and elbow...
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:45 AM   #10
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Lots of paper towels trash bags solvent painters gloves and masking tape.

I can't wait to hear how you fare when using anti seize. []
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Old 05-21-2018, 12:08 PM   #11
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Timely post for this newbie who just noticed some intrusion via a nav light fitting! Now I just have to remember it all and to keep my hands away from my armpits!

BUT- for 4000 or 4200- mineral spirits or alcohol for cleanup?

Thanks for the tip re Butyl tape and screws vs bolts. I bought the tape from Compass to have on hand waiting for the day to use it! And This isnít it due to the nav only being screwed in vs thru bolted
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Old 05-21-2018, 12:17 PM   #12
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Whether you use caulk or buytl tape, remember to countersink the holes in the fiberglass so you get an O ring of sealant around the screw or bolt.
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Old 05-21-2018, 12:33 PM   #13
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I pretty much do it the way DDW explained above. The key for me is lots of gloves, depressors, cardboard box and shop towels. There is a lot of waste generated but it turns out clean, and if I'm in the right mood no caulk anywhere but on the joint, tong depressors, tape, gloves and paper rags in the cardboard box. Avoiding the urge to use the paper towel with one more fold helps me. Once its folded two or three times its going to get messy so I just get another one.


Also, I hate blue or green tape on the boat it doesn't stick well most of the time and its 3 times as much money. The thick sticky masking tape (not the cheap stuff) works best for me, but I don't leave it long enough to melt in the sun. Last time I used 1" strips of gaffer tape because it what I had. It worked awesome but its little pricey.
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Old 05-21-2018, 12:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xsbank View Post
I just bedded in a new transucer with Sikaflex and white goo is spread pretty much everywhere from my hat to the floor of the engine room. I think it goes with the job, very similar results to using teak deck caulking. Just don’t touch yourself until you have stripped down after one of these events; armpits, eh? That’s a new one, did you have to scratch? I agree with butyl tape, not sure why I chose Sikaflex...?
I was standing on the cabin roof and working on the pilot house roof . I reached for a screwdriver that was rolling away and I laid my armpit across some squeezed out fresh caulking.
Everyone else on the dock is cleaning and polishing on their boats while we are always screwing with some caulking , painting ,varnishing or woodwork. We pretty much keep the dock entertained, but if one of them is needing a tool or screw or whatever , they always check with us before heading to the hardware.
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Old 05-21-2018, 01:42 PM   #15
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Alcohol or mineral spirit: Some PU caulks do not like alcohol, it inhibits the cure. So unless you are sure, I'd use mineral spirits (not "paint thinner" which often today looks and acts like water...). Alcohol also evaporates much faster than real mineral spirits, so it's a little harder to keep your towel moist. The product called Varsol works great, but only seems to be available in Canada.

The very best mess you can make is to step on a tube of caulk on the deck. The resulting explosion sends it in all directions.

One reason I don't like butyl tape is that it will continue to ooze out from under the fitting for years, especially in hot climates. Not so much on trim type items with little clamping pressure and no stress, but more true of cleats and the like.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:58 PM   #16
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I mask around everything 1/8 to 3/16 away from the base of the fitting. I have a waste container at hand, a putty knife to scoop up the squeezed out caulk and lots of rags and paper towels.. When all that is readybthen its time to goo and fasten. The excess caulk sqeezes out, the putty knife scoops it off the masking tape and the towels/rags deposit the extra into the container. Then immediately up comes the tape. The last secret is wiping around with scrubs, those hand cleaner infused towels. They seem to clean up most caulks if used right away. I still end with caulk at least on my shirt but the carnage is minimal. Usually the result is fairly neat with only 3 /4ths of the caulk in the trash. I'm happy when it only takes a dollars worth of supplies to put a few cents of caulk under a fitting.
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:46 PM   #17
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I used to kind of do it that way, the problem is the last pass around tends to smear the caulk onto the surfaces again. Now I tape right tight to the fitting, then leave it alone when I peel. I find I get a neater job, with no mess. I found the pictures I did for the camper guys. This is on the roof of my (fiberglass) truck camper, but the concept is the same.

Trial fit the piece, tape around it tight.



Had this been on the boat, I'd have across the corner radius and then cut it with a razor blade for a tight fit, but this is only a camper. I try to get it as tight as possible without being underneath.



Fasten and let the caulk ooze:



Rake it right tight:



I clean all of it I can reach with the scraper/tongue depressor:



Peel the tape and it should be clean and neat. Leave it alone, any little imperfection you try to fix will only start smearing the stuff:

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Old 05-21-2018, 05:17 PM   #18
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Use butyl when possible

As DDW shows above in his pics (thanks DDW) to add to this when not in hand put your rake or edger in a small bucket of water with fabric softener in it also keep some small terrycloth rags to dip in this bucket for clean up and a empty bucket to toss them in as they get filled

another trick on hot days put the caulk tubes in the fridge for 20 minutes or keep them in a ice chest with cold water or ice while doing your prep work
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Old 05-21-2018, 05:36 PM   #19
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Laughing at the funny description of the OP. Hilarious! My old boss used to say, "if you don't wipe off, at least twice more goop than needed, you didn't use enough!".
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