Caulking your home is a must for a number of reasons: it keeps water and cold weather out, helps stop rot, mold and fungus from forming, keeps your heating and maintenance costs down, makes your home look more attractive and better cared for, and even helps paintwork to last longer.
So, given all of the above it becomes clear that the humble tube of caulk that you have sitting in your toolbox or in the cupboard under the sink is actually something of an unsung hero in the world of home improvements. The basic function of caulk is to fill in the gaps between different building materials – such as the tiles around your bathtub and the tub itself. Put simply, air and water are kept in their respective places, eliminating problems such as higher energy costs, and mold and rot.
However, with so many different types of caulk lining the shelves in your local hardware store, and with so many suitable applications, there are a few things you need to know before you grab your caulking gun and start squeezing the trigger!
Choose the right caulk for the right job
The caulk that you choose really depends on the materials you are working with and whether you are caulking the interior or exterior of your home. You should take into consideration the presence of moisture, the elements and range of temperature, whether you can paint over the caulk after it has dried, and whether or not it needs a degree of flexibility to be used between surfaced that move in response to weather or temperature.
You’ll likely find a bewildering range of caulk in your hardware store although it’s worth noting that many of these are highly specialized. For jobs around your home, you will probably find one of the following suitable for your needs:
- Kitchen and Bathroom Caulk – for use in the spaces around sinks, showers and tubs, this type of caulk is highly resistant to water, and helps prevent mildew and mold from growing.
- Butyl Rubber Caulk – this highly flexible caulk is mostly used for sealing brick, concrete or metal surfaces such as roof flashing and gutters. It can be painted when dry.
- Acrylic Latex Caulk – can be painted over, can be used both indoors and out, and comes in different colors, which makes it ideal for caulking around doors, window frames and moldings.
- Silicone Caulk – used for non-porous surfaces such as ceramic tiles, glass and metal. It is not usually possible to paint over silicone caulk, although it is flexible and comes in clear and other color options.
Caulking applications in the home
Once you’ve selected the right type of caulk for the job, you’re ready to get sealing, and it’s highly likely that once you’ve started looking you’ll find any number of areas that are ready and waiting to be caulked. Here are the main areas that you should take care to inspect:
- Doors – your exterior doors are a prime target for caulking. Moisture and even dampness from cold concrete floors, such as those found in garages, can cause wood to rot and will damage paintwork. Seal around the trim and the door frame or siding, as well as the frame and threshold.
- Windows – if your window has a trim, apply caulk to the top and sides of the frame only. If your window doesn’t have a trim, apply caulk to all sides, including the bottom. Wooden window frames usually need more caulk, both where the glass and wood meet, and around the trim, siding and sill.
- Fascia Boards and Soffits – applying caulk behind fascia and soffit boards is a surefire way to increase their longevity, leading to less maintenance and expense. Not sure what a ‘soffit’ is? It’s the name given to the underside of your roof’s overhang.
- Bathtubs, Showers and Sinks – choose a caulk that has been designed specifically for use in kitchens and bathrooms, as these contain mold and mildew preventing agents. Caulk in the space where your tub, sink or shower tray and/or doors meet the walls. Remember that you will need to let the caulk dry for the length of time stated in the instructions before exposing it to water.
Caulking might not be the most fun job on your home improvement to-do list, but it is a crucial one if you want your home to look better and be safer, more energy efficient and less expensive to run and maintain.
If you’d rather save your precious leisure time for something a little more exciting than caulking your home, talk to the team at Sharper Impressions Painting – we offer caulking and sealing services that will ensure your home is properly protected against the elements.