How to caulk or the art of caulking

As winter approaches, check inside your house for cracks. Search for drafts by placing alighted candle near shut doors, window frames, and corner and wall joints. If it flickers, there’s a crack. Look for these cracks on the outside of your house. In addition, examine areas where the siding and steps meet the foundation. Areas outlined in black may need caulking any cracks on the exterior with a flexible caulking compound. Work while the temperature is above 50 F.

Most caulking needs renewing every 5 years or so. Sizable cracks in wood siding, concrete, roofing, and masonry surfaces may require a permanent repair job. Caulking compounds The most durable have a base of latex, Butyl rubber, polyvinyl acetate, or silicone. Some are better than others on particular surfaces and some require priming. Read the label. Caulking compounds come in bulk cans, in cartridges for use with a gun, in squeeze tubes, and in rope like strips, good for temporary seals around storm windows or air conditioners.

Preparation for caulking
Scrape away dirt, grease, and old compound with a putty knife; finish with a wire brush. To ensure adhesion, clean the crack with a solvent such as mineral spirits. Fill cracks wider than 1/2 inch with oakum before caulking. When dealing with a lacquered aluminum surface, first remove the lacquer with xylol, then wire-brush the surface, and finally apply a quality metal primer with a rust-inhibiting agent.

Applying caulk
For an average-size job, use a cartridge inserted in a caulking gun. Cut the end of the nozzle diagonally at a width that is equal to that of the crack. To apply evenly, pull the trigger while moving the gun down the crack at a 45-degree angle. For smaller jobs use compound in squeeze tubes. To caulk around an air conditioner or a window, push in rope-type caulking with your fingers.