All About Caulking Around The House

The purpose of caulking, like weatherstripping, is to make your house more draft resistant and to help reduce the infiltration of air, dirt, noise, moisture, and insects.

Hey everyone, Darwin here with this week’s update!  Caulking around your home is really simple and easy for most people.

Leaks occur where different structural components of the house join together, such as joints between the siding and the foundation, or where cracks have opened up from the natural settling and shifting of the house over time.

Although these fissures might be minor at the onset, they can lead to serious problems, causing heat loss in the winter and increased cooling costs during hot weather.  Caulk, properly applied, is the best way to seal these leaks.  It is one of least expensive ways to preserve your house and save energy.

In combination with weather stripping, caulking may save enough energy to pay for all the materials you use within one year!

Where you should caulk

You should caulk all cracks and joints around the exterior first.  The most likely spots are where two building sections meet each other, such as:

  • Joints between the chimney and house,
  • Between siding and door window frames,
  • Between the roof and walls,
  • Between a porch and a house,
  • or between steps and the house.

Cracks are also likely wherever the shell of the building is pierced by a pipe, wire, roof vents, faucets, plumbing cleanouts, foundation vents, and air conditioners.

Other spots to seal are joints between dissimilar building materials, such as concrete and wood, or metal and brick.  These joints are particularly vulnerable to infiltration because materials expand and contract at different rates and under different weather conditions.  Therefore, they require caulk that stays flexible and adheres well.

Caulking baseboardIndoors, caulk may be used effectively wherever cracks occur between walls and ceilings, between floors and walls, and around windows and doors.  You should caulk wherever pipes and wires penetrate into the living area of the house, such as under sinks.

Finally, seal all joints around bathtubs and sinks to prevent moisture getting behind the walls and damaging structural members.

When to caulk

The best time to caulk is on exactly those days when you would rather be doing something else: the warm days of late April, May, early June, September, and early October.  Why?

These days are warm enough for the caulk to flow and set up easily, but not uncomfortably hot.  If you caulk during the colder months, wrap a heating pad around the caulk gun.  Check the manufacturer’s directions for minimum temperature requirements.  Always caulk when the weather and surfaces are dry.

What caulk to use

The chart below compares the durability and performance of various types of caulk.  Always buy the best grade of caulk.  The most important considerations are whether you intend to paint the caulk and whether you are caulking fixed joints (where identical materials meet) or joints that expand and contract.

Tube caulks (for caulking guns) work best for most cracks.  For larger openings, spray in canned fiberglass or foam insulation before caulking.

Comparison of Caulking Materials Chart

Safety precautions

Work carefully on a ladder.  Place it so that the feet are ¼ of the ladder’s height away from the house.  Avoid placing a metal ladder near electrical wires.  Do not use caulk near an open flame, and do not smoke while caulking.  Some caulking compounds are flammable and give off noxious odors when in proximity to high heat.