Monday, May 5, 2008

How's the Crack?

When we “finished” the new bathroom in 2005 (and the reason I put “finished” in quotes will, I think, become obvious soon enough) there were a few things left undone (see? soon enough for you?). Two things, specifically. They both involved caulking, and they were both things I would never have known needed doing if it weren’t for the Master Painter/Decorator that I share my life with.

I, personally, had no idea you were supposed to caulk the back-edge of the sink to make sure water did not get down behind the vanity and rot away the wall you just tore out and built again because it was rotted when you bought the dang house to begin with. No idea. But he told me, Johnny did, and I agreed it sounded like a solid plan.

Now, he’s got the know-how, Johnny does, about paint and caulk and things like that, but he doesn’t so much have the know-how to drive a car. So I went to Home Depot, or Lowe’s, or wherever the heck it was I went, and I bought caulk for the behind-the-sink. He had told me to make sure to get stuff that was paintable, because it was going to be shmeared on the basin and the wall, and the wall was going to be painted. I asked the guy at Lowe’s Depot, I did, but the thing about Lowe’s Depot is, the folks who work there don’t always so much know.

So the Lowe’s Depot fellow read a bunch of packages, and I read a bunch of packages, and together we decided on a brand we thought would do. I got two tubes of it, just to be extra-sure – and, although I realize now just how much overkill this was, you will please remember that at the time I was proud possessor of No G-D Idea.

I brought it home and — well, I’ll give you three choices as to what happened next:

1. Johnny said: “Thank you, Thelma. You are always such a big help to me, what with driving me around and all. I know how stupid you feel walking in to hardware stores and saying words that I put in your mouth when you don’t have any idea what they mean. Especially when the employees only rarely know what you’re talking about their ownselves. You did a great job with this, and I appreciate it. I love you, honey.” (And then I said “How long before we’re in Goddamn Mexico?” and drove off a cliff with Dr. One Friend.)

2. Johnny said “Great! Perfect!” and proceeded to caulk up the sink.

3. Johnny said: “I don’t think this is paintable,” and I said “Well, then I guess you’ll have to walk back to Lowe’s Depot and return it for the proper stuff yourself!” And for the next two years those tubes of caulk sat in the vanity underneath the sink, toppling out to taunt me whenever I went in there for the sponge to clean the bathroom – which, thank god, was not terribly often.

Option three, you say? Why, my-my, it appears y’all have been paying attention ’round here, after all!

And since you have been – paying attention, that is – you may recall the other caulking project that still needed to be done, which was the shower. I won’t go into all that here (you can read it in it’s original if you are so inclined, and for the next few posts after that if you’re not yet bored to tears) except to say it happened last fall, and that it finally got those two bad memories of silicone out from underneath the sink. At which point I decided no water was really going down behind the basin, anyway, and I was fine with never getting around to doing that.

Until six more months went by, and I got this email…

BlogHer wanted to know if I (and some other people) would be willing to try out this new product called Caulk Singles (made, oddly enough, by General Electric), and write about it, to help them kick off a contest they’re about to run. They said they’d send the stuff to me for free, pay me a tiny amount for my time and trouble, and enter me in the contest to win $1000 – but that none of the above meant I would be obligated to say nice things about the product. I could write anything I liked. Although (and they didn’t say this, so maybe I’m wrong, but) I don’t imagine I’d have much chance of winning if I said—

Well, let’s not imagine what bad things I might have said. Let’s just get to work now, shall we?

I have a history of ballsing up projects like this, so I thought about asking Johnny to do it for me, considering the fact that he is an expert, after all. But then I figured that they were probably asking folks like me to play because they were trying to prove it was a thing even morons like me could use. By which I mean I’m fairly certain it’s not intended for professionals like him. So, in the spirit of the game, I really ought to do it by myself.


I also have to clean the sink. Dang, dang! And this one really is the product’s fault, because it says right on the package that all working surfaces must be clean and dry.

Fine. It’s clean. And dry. Are you happy now, GE? Plus I’ve gathered all my crucial implements and am officially Ready To Begin.

Crucial implements set aside for just a moment, let’s see a close-up of the gap I mean to fill:

It’s going to be more difficult on the left-hand side because, as you can see, that side’s farther away from the wall than the other one. (So? You want to make something of it? Yeah, I didn’t think so.) Therefore, I determined to begin this job on the right.

Step one is to tear open the package. And, if you should ever try this stuff, I implore you not to give up and go running for the scissors. It will tear open like it says it does, you just have to stop being afraid it’s going to goosh out all over you and give it a good solid tug. It won’t goosh on you, I swear to god. Or at least it didn’t goosh on me.

And then this happened...

Hey! Lookit what I did!

Well, technically, I did this first:

But then I cleaned it up.

Now for the hard part. The Grand Canyon on the left. It would have been nice if I had taken pictures as I went along, but it’s really a two-handed job, and I didn’t want to go getting caulk all up in my F-stop (and no, I have no idea what an F-stop is or whether my digital camera actually has one. Just roll with me, okay?). Suffice to say I ran one bead along the wall-side, then another one along the porcelain, shmooshed my finger down along the line, wiped everything with a damp rag, et (pardon my French)...


I’ll have to do it again before it’s really right. So let’s take a break, read the Sunday paper, and drink that coffee I brought into the bathroom but didn’t get a chance to drink because the whole job was over in five minutes, shall we?

Also, let’s cross our fingers and hope that opened tube will still be good in two hours when I’m ready to finish up, because I just now noticed that the other tube they sent is not the same. See? (And yes, that is the toilet lid I laid them on to take the picture. And again I say: So what?)

The one with orange writing is the one I used. It’s white. The one with blue writing I did not use, and it’s clear. I’m pretty sure I would have chosen white for this job, even if I’d known I had an option. But the choice was made for me by luck of the draw, and it’s far too late for me to change up, now. Plus I just noticed that the stuff I used is acrylic, and the clear stuff is silicone. Which isn’t paintable.

Here’s to me accidentally dodging that bullet, wouldn’t you say?

And by now it's been a couple hours, so let’s all go have a look.

Hm. It’s actually been three hours, and it isn’t dry. Johnny says normal caulk would have been ready for another go in one or two. But I think this is normal caulk, just in a different package, and Johnny merely has no idea quite how much of it I managed to skoosh in. So I show him the pictures.

Sure enough. When he sees the gaping chasm on the left he says, “Oh, well then. Who knows? That won't be dry for a while yet. It might even take all f-ing night!”

Only he didn’t say “f-ing.”

So that’s it. I’m calling it. I will finish the job tomorrow and give a complete (albeit, one would hope, much more concise) next-day report, but for now I’m wrapping up this so-called Official Review. Here, then, is the money shot (a.k.a. the After):

Is lovely, no?

And now, my verdict:

With the acknowledgement that the cost ($1.99-$2.99 for 1.25 ounces) is the hardware-equivalent of paying $1 for a can of Coke from a machine – i.e., handy and single-serve, but anywhere from three to five times the per-ounce price of the larger package – I’d say it’s worth it for the convenience. Not to do whole rooms with or anything, but that isn’t what it’s made for.

After all, for the kinds of small jobs they’re marketing it towards, the average homeowner would buy a 10 oz. tube, use it once, and throw the rest away. Or put it safely somewhere to be used the next time, in which case it would slowly harden up into a rolling pin, giggling and waiting to frustrate them at just the moment when they were congratulating themselves for having the forethought to put it aside and the wherewithal to remember where it was.

Which would never happen to me, you understand. I’m simply saying.

As a matter of fact, now that I’m looking at it that way, I think this stuff might actually sometimes be cheaper. It might even be considered “greener” – if you’re so inclined to think along those lines (which, as you all know, I’m really not). Seriously: I could pay $4.50 for a ten-ounce tube and throw nine ounces of it in a landfill, or I could pay two bucks for this and use it all. Not that my house isn’t going to end up in a landfill eventually, too, if I have anything to say about it, but you see my point.

So there you have it. I am hereby giving this product the coveted AssVac’s two poops up.

Which does not put me at risk of becoming an official shill, because if you think they’re going to choose me for the winner after I’ve done that, you’re nuts.

Besides, there’s still the fact this now means I can do a few more of the jobs I used to leave for Him.

Therefore I hate it.

P.S. To anybody who might have come here straight from BlogHer: Hello! Welcome! I hope you didn't mind the occasional swear words and the poop jokes! If you didn't, if you maybe were even (gasp!) amused, then please feel free to check out my REAL BLOG for more of the same. This right here is just a place I made to put product reviews. Or "review" I should say, seeing as how there's only one of them so far.