There are a lot of things that you can fix with caulk. By following the guidelines below, you’ll save time and money, and avoid future headaches. However, we first need to go over the basics of caulking because you’ll need to know how to do it right the first time, so you don’t have to do it again.
- The size of the joint at the time of caulking. Joints expand and contract with the temperature. The ideal temperature range for caulking is between 40-90 degrees Fahrenheit
- The ability of the caulk to properly adhere to your surface. You’ll want to hold off on caulking if it has just rained and/or snowed or if wet weather is expected within 24 hours of applying the caulk.
- The ability of the caulk to cure. Caulk can’t cure in freeing temps or extremely hot temps.
2. Surface Prep
- Remove old caulk. Use a putty knife or a similar tool to remove all of the old caulk in the joint. A heat gun can also help by softening the old caulk, making it easier to remove.
- Clean the surface. This is for proper adhesion.
- Place backer rod in joints that are more than 1/4″ wide and 1/2″ deep. This will save you money because you’re not using as much caulk as you would have. Backer rod also creates an ideal joint design. If you’re not familiar with backer rod, the picture below shows a great example. It’s basically a very light rope made of foam.
3. Apply the Caulk
- Cut the nozzle to the right size of bead. There are markings on the tip of the nozzle indicating the size of the bead. Cut the nozzle at a 45 degree angle, and then puncture the inner seal if there is one. Place it in the caulking gun and you’re read begin.
- If you haven’t had a lot of practice applying caulk, one trick I like to use is blue painter’s tape. I’ll place 2 strips of tape so that the area that I am caulking falls between the two pieces. This makes cleanup much easier.
- Work in 2-3ft increments and “smooth” the bead before applying the next increment of caulk. You can smooth the bead with your finger, beading tool, spoon or foam paint brush. Be careful not to remove too much caulk when smoothing the bead. The joint will not be able to stretch and seal properly if you remove too much.
- Water based caulks can be cleaned up with soap and water. Solvent based caulks like silicone will need to be cleaned with chemicals like mineral spirits.
Seal Air Leaks and Drafts
Air leaks can be uncomfortable, and they can also cost you money. EnergyStar.gov estimates that you could save up to 10% of your yearly energy bill by properly sealing and insulating your home. Most air leaks come from sources other than windows and doors, like the opening to your attic, an attic fan, furnace flues or ducts, plumbing vents and wiring holes such as electrical outlets.
Keep Bugs and Pests Out
Bugs and pests can get in through cracks in your doors and windows to sneak inside your home. They can also enter through gaps and/or cracks near your trim, and inside of cabinets. That’s why even the smallest of gaps should be sealed with caulk. There are several areas on the interior and exterior of a home that could have gaps and cracks that should be inspected and then properly sealed. Moisture resistant caulk should be used for best results.
Caulk For Paint Prep
Who doesn’t like a clean straight paint line? Unless you’re a professional painter, caulking a straight line can be a challenge. This is why I like using painters tape to mark the area I’m caulking.The picture above shows an example. Use your finger to smooth the bead after applying the caulk.
Seal Roof and Gutters
A leaking gutter can cause many problems including: roof problems, wood rot, soil erosion, water pooling near the foundation, wet basement, etc. This is why it is important to inspect your gutters on a routine basis to ensure there are no problem areas. Rubber, Polymer and urethane caulks should be used to repair gutters, rather than a silicone based caulk. The first picture shows where the leak is in the gutter. The second picture shows how to properly caulk the damaged area.
Seal Gap Between the Tub and Tile
It’s important to keep the gap between your tub/shower and the tile sealed. Keeping it properly sealed will prevent water from getting behind the stall or tub, which can lead to mold and rot, not to mention potentially leaking onto the ceiling below the bathroom. Even tiny gaps in caulking can let water through, and you might not know you have a problem until it is severe. For best results, use a silicone based caulk that also has a mold/mildew preventative agent to prevent