Before you begin to caulk, make sure that the seam or the crack that you are filling is clean of any dirt, old deteriorated caulking or dry paint. You can use a putty knife or a large screwdriver to scrape the opening clean. There should be no moisture in the crack before applying the caulk, or it will be trapped inside once the caulk sets up (dries).
Be sure to cut the tip of the caulk at a 45-degree angle, the same angle you will be applying the caulk to the surface. This will help the caulk to flow neatly and evenly along the wall or area you are cutting.
If you want to draw a good steady bead of caulk you may need a little bit of practice. Hold the gun at a consistent angle and draw the bead continuously rather than a stop start motion. Just before pulling the gun away, release the trigger to avoid excess caulk from oozing out. Then take a damp sponge to wipe away the excess. The sponge is also forcing the caulk into the crack. Follow these simple quick tips and you'll be caulking away in no time.
It is important to remember that caulk is a material that forms a flexible seal to stop air and moisture infiltration. Caulk comes in a variety or types depending on the chore. You can use it in your bathroom, to seal windows and winterize your home, you can caulk your walls, fireplaces and even your rooftops. Caulk is used on window and doorframes, siding, corner joints, foundations, and almost any area in which you find a seam or crack. Some of the better types of caulk will last up to 20 years. Although these are more expensive, they will save you the time and expense of re-caulking later.
Since there are many types of caulk for various uses, be sure to check with your home center to find out what type will work best for your particular needs. Generally, you will apply caulk from a tube with a caulking gun or from a pressurized can. You can also purchase rope caulk, which comes in a coil and is simply unwound and stuffed into cracks and crevices. However, rope caulk only lasts a year or two. If you are using it to winterize your home you will probably have to do it again next fall.
Since caulking is a major part of getting your home ready for the winter, access to an air compressor or power drill would come in very handy. Fitted with a caulking gun attachment the air compressor or drill allows a smoother, almost effortless application in all areas needing caulk.
If you are trying to cover both sides of a crack of seam with a singlewide bead of caulk, make sure it adheres to both sides.
The joint between the door frame and the exterior and interior walls can be as much as an eighth of an inch gap. This must be carefully and completely caulked to seal it against energy loss.
If you live in an older home, caulking the outside of the window frame where it joins the overall structure of the house will halt a steady flow of air. This space between the windows usually contains the weights for the older double hung window and is not insulated. By caulking this area properly you will save energy and cut your heating costs.
Note: Never caulk the little openings in storm windows. They have a very specific purpose; that is, allowing moisture to escape and not condense on the glass.
Cracks in the foundation or basement walls can be terrific energy losers. You'll want to be certain the crack is very clean. Remove any loose mortar and moisture. You may even want to go over it with a primer if the material is porous.
Smaller cracks can be sealed off with just a liberal bead of caulk forced smoothly into the crack. Extra deep cracks should be stuffed with polyethylene foam, fiberglass, or oakum to within 1/2" of the top surface. Then caulk over this to provide a seal.
On roofs or siding, repair areas around flashing with caulk or a sealant recommended for exterior metal. Seal flashing around roof stacks and vents, between roof valley flashing and shingles, and around roof additions and skylights. There are also types of adhesive caulking that will mend split or loose roofing shingles as well as splits or cracks in siding. (These are available in a variety of colors.) Exposed roofing nails should also get an application.
Keep all gutters, downspouts, soffits, and eaves clean and in good repair.
Caulk them to prevent rot decay, basement flooding, mildew, and dampness problems.
If you are not using your fireplace plug up the flue with insulating fireplace baffle (damper) to prevent warm air from doffing up and out of your home.
The following is a list of types of Caulking and Glazing Compounds
Silicone Rubber lasts 12 to 30 years or more and offers the best adhesion for use in seams, cracks, and gaps up to 1/4". It adheres very well to all clean surfaces. Pure silicone does not allow paint to adhere, so impurities are added for adhesion in some formulations. It is available in many colors and clear.
Butyl Rubber lasts 8 to 10 years, has some shrinkage and is for use in seams, cracks, and gaps up to 1/4". It is available in many colors.
Acrylic Latex Silicone Blend lasts 12 to 20 years and features easier application than the preceding rubber caulks. It is intended for use in seams, cracks, and gaps up to 1/4". Depending on the manufacturer, it may not take painting.
Acrylic Caulk lasts 8 to 10 years. It features easy water clean up and is for use in seams, cracks, and gaps up to 1/4". It goes on easily and has no offensive odor. It is available in many colors.
Latex Caulk lasts 2 to 10 years, features water clean up and is intended for use in seams, cracks, and gaps without expansion or contraction up to 1/4". Most are paintable. Many are available in colors.
Oil Base Asphalt Caulk lasts 1 to 4 years. It is dispensed as a soft and tar like compound for use in seams and gaps on the roof around chimneys, stacks and pipes to 1/4". It hardens rapidly.
Caulking Cord is usually considered a temporary weather-stripping product. It lasts 1 to 2 years, peels from a roll and then pushed into place. It is usually a temporary filler around air conditioners. It comes in rolls and unused portion can be stored for years.
Oakum is twisted hemp treated with tar. It is cut to needed length and pushed into place. It is used to stuff large gaps before using caulking over the oakum.
Glazing Compound lasts indefinitely. Application requires some practice with a putty knife, and is used as a seal between the window glass and frame, an often-overlooked area needing repair.