Feeling any drafts or hot/cold spots in your home? Concerned about your monthly energy bill? You might be losing heat and air conditioning through drafty windows and doors without even knowing it.
Using plastic-based caulks is an easy, simple solution to this problem, and the good news is that just about anyone can apply them! Start at a hardware store or large retailer where there is a wide variety of plastic-based caulks, often an entire aisle’s worth. Choosing the correct type of caulk can be a bit tricky, so follow my easy tips on selecting the right one for your job.
There’s not one “all-purpose” tube of caulk that works indoors and outdoors and in different climates. All of these plastic-based caulks have different characteristics and advantages, you simply need to analyze your project and select which type will be the best for your job.
Keep the following factors in mind for your specific project1:
- Materials – Some caulks adhere better to certain materials than others, so make sure you read the labels or ask for help to figure out which one is best for your job. For example, silicone2 caulk is best for sealing glass, metal, ceramic tile and other non-porous surfaces. It doesn’t adhere as well to porous materials like wood and masonry. Silicone is available in clear and several colors and remains flexible after drying.
- Moisture – In areas that stay wet, such as around a tub or sink, use a caulk that is highly resistant to both water and mildew. PVA and acrylic latex kitchen and bath3 caulks are specifically designed for areas subject to high moisture like around sinks and tubs. It comes in a variety of colors that resist mold and mildew growth. You do need to leave ample time to allow it to dry thoroughly before using the tub or sink or anything in the kitchen.
- Temperature – Some caulks can only be applied in warm weather while others aren’t designed to handle extreme changes in temperature. Silicone caulk, for example, works well through all four seasons.
- Location – When using caulk for outdoor application, choose one that will hold up to the elements and is flexible enough to withstand movement in a joint. For example, butyl rubber caulk forms a highly water resistant seal and is excellent for caulking concrete, brick or metal surfaces. It can be painted when completely cured. This type of plastic caulk remains flexible and is a good choice for joints that expand and contract, like gutters and roof flashing. It requires solvent for cleanup.
- Paintable – While most caulks can be painted over after they have cured, others cannot. Acrylic Latex is good for general applications such as sealing around windows, doors and moldings and can be used both inside and outside as long as the temperature is 40ºF or higher while curing. This type of caulk can be painted and also comes in a variety of colors.
- Application – Most caulks are easy to apply and can be cleaned up with water, but some (like butyl-based caulks) may require solvents to remove. Check the label before you begin.
- More is not always better. If you apply too much caulk to a joint and then smooth it out, the caulk tends to spread onto adjoining surfaces.
- Apply caulk evenly from a high-quality gun to ensure even distribution.
- Make sure you take advantage of the many colors to save yourself time painting.
By using plastic-based caulks on your drafty windows, doors, cracks and crevices, you can cut down on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint – both great incentives to get out to the hardware store for this easy DIY project.
* All tips from DannyLipford.com, http://www.dannylipford.com/diy-home-improvement/heating-and-cooling/homeowners-guide-to-caulk/