• Home & Living

Weatherize Your Home: Caulking



Selection

You can use a caulking compound to seal leaks in a variety of places throughout your home, including around windows and door frames. In addition to plugging leaks, caulking can also prevent water damage inside and outside of the home when applied around faucets, ceiling fixtures, , drains, bathtubs and other plumbing fixtures.

Caulk forms a flexible seal for cracks, gaps, or joints less than 1 quarter-inch wide. Most caulking compounds come in disposable cartridges that fit in half-barrel caulking guns (if possible, purchase one with an automatic release). Some pressurized cartridges do not require caulking guns. When deciding how much caulking to purchase, consider that you’ll probably need a half-cartridge per window or door and four cartridges for the foundation sill.

Caulking compounds can also be found in aerosol cans, squeeze tubes, and ropes for small jobs or special applications. Water-based caulk can be cleaned with water, while solvent-based compounds require a solvent for cleanup. Caulking compounds also vary in strength, properties, and prices.

Application

Although not a high-tech operation, caulking can be tricky. Read and follow the instructions on the compound cartridge. And save yourself some trouble by remembering a few important tips:

  • Clean all areas to be caulked for good adhesion. Remove any old caulk and paint, using a putty knife or a large screwdriver. Make sure the area is dry so you won’t seal in moisture.
  • Hold the gun at a consistent angle.
    Forty-five degrees is best for getting deep into the crack. You know you’ve got the right angle when the caulk is immediately forced into the crack as it comes out of the tube.
  • Caulk in one straight continuous stream, if possible. Avoid stops and starts.
  • Send caulk to the bottom of an opening to avoid bubbles.
  • Make sure the caulk sticks to both sides of a crack or seam.
  • Release the trigger before pulling the gun away to avoid applying too much caulking compound. A caulking gun with an automatic release makes this so much easier.
  • If caulk oozes out of a crack, use a putty knife to push it back in.
  • Don’t skimp. If the caulk shrinks, reapply it to form a smooth bead that will seal the crack completely.
Apply caulk to seal fixed joints in your home
Apply caulk to seal fixed joints in your home.