Frame-type and cradle-type guns look very different, but function and perform in the same way. With either type, the shaft can be smooth or notched. Get the smooth one. With the notched type, you have to rotate the shaft to release pressure on the tube a clumsy motion that can lead to a mess. A smooth shaft, in contrast, has a convenient release lever on the handle.

Cut a neat, narrow hole in the nozzle.
- Avoid the most common caulking mistake: Cutting the nozzle too far back from the tip. That makes the hole in the nozzle too large and allows too much caulk to gush out quickly, creating a mess.
- Some professionals match the hole size to the size of the gap they're filling. But a hole that's smaller than the gap gives you more control. You can move quickly where the gap is narrow and slow down to feed more caulk into larger gaps. Here are a couple of nozzle-cutting pointers:
- Cut the nozzle at a 45 angle close to the tip. For most jobs, the hole you create should be no more than 3mm across. Remember, you can always enlarge the hole if you need to, but you can't make it smaller.
- The cut has to be neat. If you leave any jagged edges they will create furrows in the caulk bead. For a neat - slice, use a sharp utility knife and support the nozzle on a scrap of wood as you cut.

Lay an even bead

The goal here is consistency. You want an even bead tha doesn't change much in size or shape as it runs around the edge of the tub.
- For a smooth bead, start at one end and finish at the other - no pit stops in between, not even at corners if you can help it. Stopping and starting will result in a bumpy bead.
- You want caulk to flow out of the nozzle at an even rat so pull the trigger slowly and steadily. When the trigger reaches the end
of its stroke, release it quickly and begin pulling again instantly. The pressure in the tube will keep the flow going during the split-second interruption.
- No matter how hard you try for an even flow, you'll get some variation. To minimise this, you have to move faster when the caulk gushes out, and slower when it ebbs.
- The tip of the nozzle shapes the bead. If you twist the gun or adjust its angle as you go, the bead will change shape. Once you find the right angle, move along without twisting or shifting the gun - unless you have to change the angle to go around a corner or obstruction.
- Caulk may continue to flow slowly out of the tube even after you release pressure, so lift the gun as soon as yoi get to the end of the line.
- Ease back the trigger; vary your speed; watch the angle of the gun. It all takes concentration and a steady hand. So before you apply any caulk, make a dry run around the tub. But don't let anyone see you practice caulkinc looks even dumber than it sounds.

Smooth the bead
- You can buy any number of caulk-smoothing tools, but most pros just wet a finger and drag it over the bead.
- Have a wet rag handy for clean-up. You can also use the rag to wet your finger so it will glide over the caulk bead, although a cup of soapy water works even better.
- When you're smoothing the bead, start at one end and finish at the other without stopping in between.
- Press down lightly, just hard enough to even out the surface of the bead. Remember, if [ you apply too much pressure, you'll plough up the caulk, making a mess
- If the first run doesn't leave a smooth bead, make a second run.

Sometimes, a bead of caulk is just destined to be ugly. You try again and again to reshape it, and it only gets worse. In such a case, you can wipe away the mess with wet rags and start over (if you're using latex caulk). But don't stand around deciding what to do. Caulk can start to harden in just a few minutes.

One of the most common caulking catastrophes is ridges of excess caulk on both sides of the joint. This is caused by too much caulk, pressing too hard with your finger, or both. Before you wipe up a mess like this and start over, try scraping away the ridges with a piece of cardboard, a plastic putty knife or even an old credit card (cut the card to make a square edge). It isn't easy to get rid of the ridges without ruining the entire job, but it sometimes works and you've got nothing to lose.

Caulking Tip: If the vertical corner seams of your tiled tub surround need sealing, do them first and let the caulk harden before continuing. That way, you won't mess then up as you work your way around the tub.