How to Caulk Concrete

Use foam backer rod and keep the caulk bead thin

For long-lasting concrete crack repair, fill wide cracks with foam backer rod before caulking. And use a caulk formulated for concrete.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Fill big gaps before caulking

If the caulking keeps peeling up from the cracks in your concrete patio, try this professional solution. Use a combination of backer rod (inexpensive at home centers) and caulk. First remove the caulk that's in the gap. For latex caulk, pour caulk remover (such as Lift Off; about $6 at home centers and hardware stores; Photo 1) over the caulk, let it sit for two hours, then dig out the caulk with a stiff putty knife. For silicone or polyurethane caulk, use mineral spirits. If you're not sure what type of caulk you have, start with the caulk remover. For stubborn sections, give the remover more time to work, then continue scraping. You don't have to remove every last piece of caulk, especially if it's at the bottom of the gap, but the top 1 in. of the crack needs to be cleaned off pretty well.

Use a backer rod with a diameter that's 1/8 to 1/4 in. larger than the crack. Push the rod into the gap so the top is about 1/4 in. below the concrete surface (Photo 2). Fill the gap with caulk, them smooth the caulk with a plastic spoon. Be sure to use a caulk that's formulated for use with concrete (it'll say so on the label).

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Caulk gun
  • Putty knife

You'll also need a plastic spoon.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Caulk remover
  • Backer rod
  • Caulk