Caulking: How To Choose It, How To Use It

Caulking: How To Choose It, How To Use It

Dec 13, 2012

Air leaks in your home’s outer envelope decrease efficiency and waste energy dollars. As you pay to keep your Florida home warm or cool, the last thing that you want is air infiltration that increases your utility bills and wastes energy. However, there is an answer. Caulking is a quick, inexpensive way to seal gaps and cracks around windows and door frames. Here are a few tips on choosing and using caulk.

Choosing caulk

A majority of caulking compounds come in a single-use cartridge that fits inside a caulking gun. Others come in pressurized cartridges that don’t require a gun. Compounds come in water-based and solvent-based forms, and there are varying strengths of caulk and price points from which to choose.

For most interior residential applications, silicone caulk is best. For exterior applications, oil-based or resin-based caulk is best because of its waterproof properties.

Using caulk

Start by cleaning the area where you plan to apply the caulk. Remove any old caulk and paint that is chipping, clean the area, and then let it dry thoroughly. You’re now ready to caulk:

  • Prep the caulk gun by cutting the tip at a 45-degree angle. Insert the cartridge into the gun, and practice on old newspaper or a paper towel to get a feel for how quickly it comes out and at what consistency.
  • Hold the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle, and then pull it across the gap or crack at a constant speed. Avoid stopping and starting, so that you have an even, clean finish.
  • Smooth out two to three feet of caulk at a time by wetting your finger and gliding it along the caulk. Push the caulk down into the crack to create a smooth finish.
  • Clean up any mistakes right away, since damp caulk is easy to wipe up. However, you’ll need mineral spirits or naphtha to clean up silicone caulk, or those that are oil-based or resin-based, if they’ve had any time to dry.
  • Allow the caulk to cure for at least 24 hours or longer, particularly if it is especially humid.

With the caulking job complete, you should notice a less drafty interior and lower utility bills. For more information on caulking, and for other home-comfort questions, contact the experts at Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions. We’ve proudly served residential and commercial customers in the Orlando area since 1969.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas 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.

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