MyAceOnline

Colorado & Wyoming

Colorado Locations

Edgewater: 303-233-4810

Highlands Ranch: 303-683-6300

Loveland: 970-663-2230

Windsor: 970-686-1470

Wyoming Locations

Green River: 307-875-1520

Rock Springs: 307-362-7362

menu

Applying and Using Caulk

< Back

 

The average house (even when well-insulated) contains cracks and gaps between building materials that add up to a hole about 14 inches square. In the winter, those gaps may make the house drafty and chilly. All year long, a leaky house not only wastes energy, it can also lead to water damage and provide a path for insects. 

 

Types of Caulking

A number of factors must be considered when choosing caulking. They include durability, flexibility, whether the caulk can be painted and, of course, price. The most expensive caulk is not always the best product for every job, but lower quality caulks may dry out, loose flexibility and need replacement sooner. You should carefully consider which product is appropriate to your situation. Read product labels and manufacturers' literature, and ask your salesperson for his or her recommendation.


Here is a list of common caulks and their characteristics. Different types of caulking are designed for different applications, and quality can vary among different brands of the same type because of different formulations used. Always read and follow the manufacturer's directions.

Oil-Base Painter's Caulk (1-2 yr. life) Not very elastic. Dries out easily. Paintable after curing. Lowest cost.

 

Latex (3-10 yr. Life) Use mostly indoors. Applies easily. Low elasticity. Only sticks to porous surfaces. Easy water cleanup. Low cost. Paintable.

 

Butyl Rubber (3-10 yr. life) High elasticity. Sticks to most surfaces. High moisture resistance. Flexible when cured. Most difficult to work with as it is very sticky.

Acrylic Latex (10 yr. life) Good elasticity. Sticks to most surfaces. Reasonable moisture resistance. Paintable. Good for around doors and windows. May not be used below freezing.

Silicon-Latex Blend (20+ yr. life) Good elasticity. Excellent weathering ability. Medium shrinkage. Adheres to most surfaces. Some cannot be painted. May not be used below freezing.

Silicone (20-50 yr. life) Excellent elasticity. Sticks very well. Excellent moisture resistance. Needs solvent to clean. Strong odor possible while curing. Low shrinkage. Generally not paintable, but available in many colors. May not be used below freezing. May be applied to wood, asphalt or metal, but not vinyl or masonry.

 

Urethane (20-50 yr. life) Excellent elasticity and adhesion. Excellent moisture resistance. Easy cleanup. Strong odor possible while curing. Low shrinkage. May not be used below freezing. May be applied to wood, brick, asphalt, metal, vinyl or concrete.


Elastomeric Copolymers (50+ yr. life) Excellent elasticity and adhesion. Will stick to damp surfaces. Can be applied below freezing. Cleanup with lacquer thinner. May be applied to wood, brick, asphalt, metal, vinyl or concrete.

Polyurethane Foam Sealant (in aerosol can) A specialized expanding foam product useful for filling large gaps. Expanding foam may be tricky to apply because of the amount of expansion but has excellent sealing and insulation qualities.
 

Using Caulk
Caulking should be applied to any gap where air, moisture or insects may penetrate the structure, including the following common locations:

  • Joints between foundation and siding
  • Joints between roof overhang and house
  • Joints between window/door and siding
  • At any penetrations into the house (i.e., telephone wires, TV cable, electrical conduit and gas and water pipes)
  • Dryer, bathroom and kitchen vents
  • Joints between the siding and chimney

 

As a rule, surfaces must be clean and dry in order for caulking to stick. Loose material should be brushed away, and dirt, grease or oil should be removed with a detergent solution. Do not apply in cold weather, except as recommended by the manufacturer. 
 

To use a caulking gun, pull the plunger all the way back and insert the caulking tube. Turn the plunger so the notches engage the trigger of the gun. Next, push the plunger snugly against the heel of the tube. Cut the nozzle tip with the utility knife and make a hole the size of the bead you want. Puncture the seal at the top of the tube with a 16d nail.

To apply caulking, squeeze the trigger and push (don't pull) the gun along the gap. Pushing the gun drives caulking down into the gap and gives you better adhesion.

To tool the joint, first wet your finger with soapy water (if the caulking is formulated for soap-and-water cleanup) or a dab of automotive hand cleaner (if the caulking is formulated for solvent cleanup). Run your finger along the joint, smoothing it and pressing the caulking into the joint. Wipe away excess with a rag.