Talkin’ bout Caulking with Chipotle

“Caulking is both an art and a science,” says Bruce Emery, Construction Manager at Chipotle Mexican Grill and resident caulking expert. So much so that he recently hosted a caulking seminar in Dallas for Chipotle-approved GC’s to learn the secrets to superior caulking. Caulking has multiple purposes:

  • Blending transitions between materials.
  • Eliminating joint situations that would allow dirt, food, grease, dirty water or even waste to collect and allow mold/mildew to grow. It also serves to fill voids so insects or pests can’t nest or hide.
  • Hiding imperfections that occurred during installation of materials by others.

Below are 10 Key Steps to Success in your next caulking project:

  1. Good surface and joint preparation is critical to a professional, long-lasting caulking job. Make sure surfaces are clean and free of oils.
  2. When caulking tile transitions, make sure the tile subcontractor does not grout joints that are intended to be caulked.
  3. As a rule, use backer rods for joints wider than ¼. Using a backer rod is less expensive than filling the joint with caulk and provides for better adhesion.
  4. Make sure to check the temperature limits of the caulk you plan on using in cases where you are caulking above or around a fryer or grill.
  5. Use the right gun for the job. A piston-actuated gun will allow for a consistent flow of material regardless of the density of the material being used.
  6. Before you start, figure out how much pressure to apply for proper application. Make sure the size of the tip is appropriate to the size of the seam.
  7. Don’t rush the process. The best results come from a well-measured pace and pressure. The amount of pressure that you apply needs to be in sync with the pace in which you move the gun.
  8. The most common mistake is to use one’s finger to smooth the joint. The best technique is to back tool the caulk by removing high points of the excess material.
  9. If the caulking stands out, and does not blend-in with surfaces it has been applied to, the job was poorly done.
  10. Caulking is more important than you realize. A good caulking job results in a good, clean fit and finished look!

The best compliment I ever received was when a client walked in and asked “why are we paying this guy so much, he hasn’t done a thing?” The superintendent responded, “He’s finished. And, THAT is why we’re paying him so much.” – Bruce Emery

Wyatt Management thanks Chipotle for helping us up our game in caulking!