Caulking is a low-cost way to weatherize your home, reduce air infiltration, and cut energy costs without involving professionals at a windows and doors company. Proper caulking provides an airtight seal around gaps and cracks in your doors and windows that could make them less energy efficient. It only requires a few fairly inexpensive materials and a little bit of your time, and you can enjoy the benefits immediately for the rest of the season.
So, how do you caulk?
Step 1: Find the air leaks
Check for air leaks inside and outside your doors and windows on a cool, windy day using an incense stick or candlestick.
Step 2: Get the necessary materials
The two most common types of caulk are silicone and latex caulk. Silicone caulk is durable and can withstand extreme temperatures, while latex is easier to apply, plus it can be painted. You will also need a caulk gun to seal those gaps like a pro.
Step 3: Prepare the surfaces to be caulked
Clean the surfaces that need to be repaired, making sure to remove loose paint, dirt, and old caulk, and leave the surface dry. This step will ensure good adhesion.
Caulking is most effective when used to fill small gaps and cracks (<1/8 inch). For larger cracks (1/4 to 7/8 inches), use a putty knife to push polymeric foam tightly into the gap, and then seal with caulk. Holes over 1 inch should be filled with expandable foam delivered through aerosol cans. Once the foam has cured, trim the surface and paint it to match the surroundings.
Step 4: Load the caulk tube into the caulking gun
Check the instructions on the caulk tube before loading it into the caulking gun. You will need to cut off the tip of the tube at a 45-degree angle. Since the nozzle is tapered, the amount you cut off influences the thickness of the bead of caulk. Cutting near the narrow end provides a narrow bead, while cutting further up allows for a wider bead.
Step 5: Apply the caulk
Practise laying a uniform bead of caulk on a less visible area before fixing the cracks. Ensure that the caulk overlaps both ends of the crack. Hold the gun at 45 degrees to the surface, squeeze the trigger, and apply steady pressure as you push the gun away from you. It is best if the caulking materials completely fill the crack in a single stroke. When done, run your finger along the bead to smooth it.
Finishing the job
It is likely that some caulk will be left after the job is complete. In that case, disengage the plunger on the caulking gun, remove the cartridge, plug the nozzle with a nail, and wipe off the excess. Make sure to clean the tools with the appropriate solvent or water.
Building materials naturally expand and contract due to changes in temperature and moisture level. So, caulking is somewhat inevitable. That said, working with professional and credible windows and doors manufacturers helps to ensure that any problems other than normal wear and tear are professionally dealt with under the warranty.