There are many small tasks about the home that people can do themselves, rather than hire contractors to come in and do the job.
Caulking is one of those tasks, and the cost and ease of blocking a small gap is easy to do. But before you run out to purchase a caulking gun and a tube of product, you need to know what types of caulk to buy for the job. There are many different types available, each with its particular purpose.
Best Types to Use for Basic Jobs
Some of the most common caulking jobs are around windows and doors to prevent air leaks and others involve the bathroom or kitchen for warding from water damage. Latex caulk is a popular choice for sealing cracks that let air leak in.
The range of color choice varies, and you can match the color to the wood or decor, but latex caulk can also be easily painted over. Clean up of these types of caulk is simple using soap and water.
Caulking cord is another type of caulk used for sealing windows and airs, though this option is a temporary filler that lasts less than two years. Application is different from other types of caulk in that there is no gun to use, and the caulk is peeled from a roll and pushed into place. The unused caulk can be stored for later use and keeps well.
Glazing compound can also help with air leaks between windows and frames and is a good choice, as this caulk lasts indefinitely. However, application takes some amount of practice and is done with a putty knife, which might make the individual feel that these types of caulk are more trouble than it is worth. Still, glazing compound is often overlooked as a solid option and may be worth the application effort.
In the Bathroom and Kitchen
Silicone caulk is a popular choice and is easily found in stores. This caulk is a good, all-purpose type good for anything from metal to plastic. Silicone caulk remains flexible once dry and protects well in cases where water infiltration or fluctuating temperature may be an issue.
Color ranges vary and silicon can even be clear, but it is important to note that silicon caulk cannot be painted over. For bath and kitchen use, silicone types of caulk are an excellent type to use, and some caulks come with built-in mildew fighters to prevent mold and staining. Silicone lasts for up to 30 years.
Acrylic latex silicone caulk is similar to silicone caulk and has many of the same properties, though one notable difference is the lifespan, as acrylic latex silicone caulk usually lasts only 20 years. However, these types of caulk are the easiest to apply and are also good for many different purposes.
Caulks for Outdoor Jobs
Butyl rubber caulk has a more specific purpose and is generally used to seal cracks in concrete and cement, though it can be used for sealing metal as well. This caulk is not offered in color variations, but it can be painted to match the surrounding areas.
Butyl rubber caulk lasts approximately 8 to 10 years, and there can be some shrinkage over time. Mortar caulks are types of caulk used for cement and in masonry work, being able to withstand high temperatures.
There are other types of caulk that are even more specialized in usage, such as oil-based asphalt sealant for cracks in driveways. Asphalt caulk lasts between one to four years and has a tendency to crack. For roofing repairs, roof caulk is the best choice for correcting gaps that allow water infiltration.
When choosing a caulk, avoid flashy labels and concentrate on application instructions as well as the specific purpose for which the caulk is designed. Types of caulks on the market today are better than ever, but still remain very specialized in usage and each has their strength and weakness.
When caulk does fail in its job, the causes are one of two simple things: Either the area was not properly prepared for the caulk or the caulk itself was the wrong choice for the job and area.
Image by G.Chris Clark