Even with the best carpentry skills, there are always small gaps and cracks that need to be sealed in a home. The most common places are around doors, windows, pipes, vents and wiring. Taking the time to seal these air leaks with caulk will help make your northeast Ohio home more energy efficient and reduce your utility bills.
Caulking selection Choosing the right caulk for the job is important. A trip to the local hardware store will provide you with a variety of different products. There are four main caulking compounds to consider: latex, polyurethane, silicone and rubber.
Latex caulk: Latex, also called acrylic or vinyl caulk, is the easiest to use and covers a wide range of applications.
Polyurethane caulk: This is an excellent exterior caulk. It bonds to almost anything, especially where there are dissimilar materials such as concrete and wood. It’s not UV resistant, so it’s best to cover with a coat of paint to protect from sunlight. Polyurethane can be more expensive but lasts longer.
Silicone caulk: Silicone sealant is 100 percent waterproof, remains flexible at all temperatures, will not support mildew and bonds well to almost any surface. It’s the most difficult to smooth out and doesn’t hold paint well.
Rubber caulk: Synthetic rubber caulk sticks well to surfaces, but will melt styrofoam. It’s not recommended for indoor use due to its volatile smell and flammability. Keep in mind that there is some shrinkage when it dries, so apply more than needed.
How to use caulking
Remove any old caulk and wipe it down, allowing it to dry thoroughly. A temperature range of 40-90 degrees is ideal for application. Place the tube into the caulking gun, cut the tip off the tube at a 45-degree angle at the width of the gap you’re filling. Work a bead in smaller sections and smooth out with a dampened finger, spoon or other rounded object. Have a cloth handy to wipe up messes and allow to cure before painting.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about caulking and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.