Caulking: An Ounce of Prevention Can Keep Your Home from Rotting
Homes move. And when they move, gaps can occur near window and door frames, at concrete foundations, where brick meets siding and about a thousand-and-one other areas in and around a home. Gaps can start out small and become increasingly worse over time. In either case, cracks and gaps can be the source of a leak that can start out requiring a small bit of maintenance and, left untreated, can lead to a full-blown repair, which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
In general, the best, most cost effective means to repair a crack is with caulk. However, if you’ve visited the caulk aisle at your local hardware store or home center, you may have been overwhelmed by the choices. Not all caulking products are created equal and no one caulk can be used for all applications. For example, some caulks are designed for use on concrete, stucco, brick and masonry. Others are for use on gutters, roof flashings and other exterior applications. Still others are designed specifically for use with windows and doors or kitchens and baths.
Select a caulk that will best fit the needed repair. Carefully read the label to be certain that the desired use is specifically noted on the label. And while you’re at it, pay special attention to the recommended application temperature, drying time, interior and/or exterior use, whether the caulk can be applied in rain (sometimes necessary to stop a leak), if it is clear or pigmented, dull or glossy and whether it can be painted. The answers to these questions will help narrow your selection.
Keep in mind that a crack or gap is constantly opening as temperatures rise and fall and with the change of seasons. There are two fundamental properties that dictate caulk performance, quality and durability: adhesion and flexibility. The caulk MUST stick and it MUST expand and contract. Anything less and you’re wasting your money and putting your home at risk.
When it comes to applying caulk, the last thing that you want to do is use old caulk that’s been sitting on the shelf in your garage or workshop since who knows when. Use fresh material and follow the preparation directions on the label to the letter. No sense in buying a high-quality caulk and putting it over a dirty, flaking or peeling surface. The area should be clean and free of any loose material. Apply an even bead that will completely and uniformly fill the crack or gap. For large gaps or cracks, use a foam backer (packaged in rolls) that will provide a durable base for the caulk and will minimize the amount of material needed to do the job.
We recently had the opportunity to sample caulking product from Sashco – a “made-in-USA” family-owned company that’s been in business for 80 years. Sashco is best known for Big Stretch® and Lexel®. Big Stretch® high performance water-based sealant has powerful adhesion and extreme elasticity that will stick, twist, bend, compress, and stretch – more than 500% of original size to handle most any movement your home can dish out — all without cracking. It even comes in twelve colors.
Lexel® was the first solvent-based caulking of its kind: a clear sealant packaged in a clear tube. It’s a solvent-based, synthetic rubber formula. Sashco refers to it as the “duct tape” of all caulks. Super-elastic. Superior adhesion. Paintable. It seals around tubs and shower stalls, sinks and counter tops, window frames and door frames, PVC and metal pipes. It can be applied to wet or dry surfaces, indoors and outdoors and can handle up to 400% joint movement. It’s scrubbable. For more information on Sashco, its’ caulking products and accessories and where it may be found at retail, visit www.sashco.com.