Caulk and Sealants

Sealants and Caulk
Most of us have encountered a few problems inside our homes from time to time which we would prefer not having to deal with. For example, have you ever been sitting in your living room and a cold gust of wind somehow finds it way in, immediately lowering the room temperature by a noticeable 5 degrees in just a matter of minutes? Or, you’re sitting on your couch and you look up and notice a couple of your crown moulding pieces have separated, causing a gap?
Well, with a few simple directions and tips, any do-it-yourselfer can eliminate these problems and others with little effort and expense. Caulk can be used anywhere to seal gaps or form a bond between two or more different types of building materials. Caulking will benefit any home owner right in the wallet, saving money on energy bills by keeping the elements, and pests at bay.
To ensure a successful project, consider the following questions which will pinpoint the proper product attributes for your caulking and sealant jobs:
        • Does your project require a paintable sealant?
        • Is there a specific caulk color needed?
        • Is a quick dry time required?
        • Does your project require delicate soap & water clean up?
        • Is mold or mildew an area of concern for your caulking projects?


Where to Caulk

Inside your home

Drafts, bugs and run-off water can enter your home in gaps as small as 1/64th of an inch, about the size of a straight pin. For just a few dollars, a tube of caulk can keep out just about anything we’d rather not have in our homes.
In bathrooms, use silicone caulk around sinks, tubs and showers to keep pooled water and moisture away from surrounding surfaces. The silicone acts as a water and moisture repellant. Repeated exposure to water can speed up the break down of latex caulk over time, rendering it weak, brittle and ineffective, so make sure you use a caulk with silicone around water.
In the kitchen, use silicone caulk around the sink, backsplash and countertops to form a seal against spills.  
Achieve professional-looking results by using latex caulk on baseboards, moulding and trim to fill and cover gaps between pieces.

Outside your home

On older homes, It's a good idea to seal around your home's foundation, as a primary place where cold air in winter and warm air in summer can enter is where siding overlaps the foundation. A good remedy to keep out those unwanted drafts is to caulk the space in between. It is also smart to fill and seal all exterior areas where different materials meet, such as where flashing abuts other roofing materials or siding.
Around windows and doors, use silicone caulk in areas exposed to direct sunlight or rain as the silicone helps the caulk last longer and makes it more durable.
A specialty caulk called butyl-rubber caulk is for outdoor use only and is primarily used on gutters, siding and concrete. Use caution when working with butyl-rubber caulk as clean up can be difficult if you get it on clothing, gloves, shoes or skin.

Caulking Moulding and Trim

For crown moulding, baseboards and other types of trim, use latex caulk to fill in the gaps between the wall and the boards. Most do-it-yourselfers end up making cuts to the boards that don’t perfectly match up, so caulking will make for a seamless transition; especially once all surfaces have been painted, delivering professional looking results. Failing to effectively plug these gaps may provide just enough of an opening for those pests or drafts to enter.
Another great sealant to use between the bottom of baseboards and the (non-carpeted) floor is expandable foam, which keeps drafts and insects from gaining access to the living areas of your home via uneven spaces on the bottom of baseboards. Because the foam expands to the dimensions of the gaps, you won’t need to use a lot.

Caulking Kitchens and Bathrooms

For kitchen and bathroom projects, silicone caulk is a necessity for keeping water and moisture away from surfaces with cracks and crevices where mold or mildew could potentially develop once wet.
In the bathroom, use silicone caulk to seal tubs, showers, toilets and sinks. Caulk between the bathtub (or shower) and tile for the three enclosed sides and between the floor and the tub (or shower pan) on the exposed side.
Caulk the underside of sinks so that a seal forms between the sink and countertop to keep excess water away from vanities and cabinets. Also use caulk around the base of the toilet to keep water from leaking underneath should a drainage problem occur.
If mold or mildew is a problem in your bathroom, you should consider a caulk with mildicide added to keep those health harzards from forming in your home.

Caulking Windows and Doors

Caulk is necessary to properly seal windows and doors. For door projects, use latex caulk to seal a door frame in place, seal the subfloor at the bottom of a door frame.
A special silicone caulk that is paintable can be used around the entire door unit. Using this special type of silicone caulk is beneficial because you can paint the caulk to match the color of the siding that abuts the door frame, resulting a professional look. It will also do a great job keeping out rain or water accidentally sprayed from a hose.
For windows, silicone caulk is normally used on the back of the installation fin and around the full perimeter of the window to help seal the window to the header, sill, jack stud and jamb. Additionally, paintable silicone can be used around the outside of the window unit to properly seal the window and the siding edge.
For the inside of both doors and windows, use latex painters caulk.