Fill big gaps before caulking
Photo 1: Clean the edges
Clean the old caulk from edges of the crack using a chemical cleaner or mineral spirits.Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman
Photo 2: Backer rod is the key
Insert backer rod into the gap, then run a bead of caulk over the top. For a smooth, even bead, tool the caulk with a plastic spoon.Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman
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).
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
Required Materials for this Project
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
- Backer rod
- Caulk remover