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DIY Caulking: Know What Type Of Caulk To Use

Noticing a few drafts around your windows and doors lately? Have some unsightly gaps in your wood siding or ceramic tiles? If so, then it may be time for you to get your home improvement gloves on and begin caulking! Caulk is a wonderful product that can be used to fill gaps in almost any material. It can also make a real difference to your heating and cooling bills as well as add a nice finished look to your bathroom tub and kitchen sink. But you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the different types of caulk at your local hardware store! Here are some tips on which caulk you should use for all the different jobs around your home.

What is Caulk?
Caulk is a type of finishing material that is used to fill in gaps, cracks, and breaks in various surfaces. By using caulk, you can help to prevent heat loss around windows and doors, water leakage around toilets and bathtubs, and cracks in your driveway and foundation. Sometimes referred to as sealant, caulk used to only be available in polyurethane and silicone forms. However, there are now a variety of different types of caulk specifically designed for a number of different home repair jobs.

Choosing Your Caulk
When it comes time to choosing a caulk for a particular repair job, it is important to consider a few key factors first. These factors will play an important role in helping you to decide what type of caulk to choose:

  • Indoors or Outdoors? Some caulks are designed for outdoor use, while others work better inside the home. Depending upon your job, you may need an inside or outside caulk.
  • Temperature: Consider the temperature in the place where you are going to put the caulk. Some types of caulk can withstand extreme temperatures while others can’t. This can severely affect performance.
  • Moisture Levels: Some caulks are specifically designed to be installed in high moisture areas. If you use a caulk that isn’t, it could impact on adhesion and durability.
  • Application Process: Some types of caulk are much easier to apply than others. Consider your level of caulking expertise before you run out and purchase a hard-to-apply caulk.

Types of Caulk

Many people find it overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right type of caulk for a particular job. Because there are so many different kinds of caulk on the market, the decision can be a difficult one. Here is a quick guide to help you choose the right caulk for your repair job.

Silicone Caulk
Silicone caulk is the type of caulk that people tend to be most familiar with. It is usually clear in color and has a rubbery, flexible texture when dry. For the past 20 years or so, the majority of caulks on the market have been made out of silicone. Because of its durability and effectiveness on a wide variety of surfaces, silicone continues to be a popular choice today. It is especially useful on non-porous surfaces, including metal and plastic. And because it stays flexible after it is dry, silicone caulk rarely breaks or cracks as a result of extreme temperatures or rapid temperature changes. This makes it perfect for filling gaps around windows and doors.

However, silicone is very challenging to apply and has quite an offensive odor, which has opened the door to other types of caulks, particularly when it comes to indoor use. Additionally, silicone caulk needs to be cleaned up using a special solvent, which can become quite messy.

Latex Caulk
Latex caulk is becoming an increasingly popular option amongst homeowners. Because of its durability, latex caulk can last for up to 20 years and it can also be painted over to match any décor. This makes it perfect for indoor use. Latex caulk doesn’t stand up to temperature changes well, however, so don’t use it outdoors if you live in a cold climate. It is particularly good for wood siding and filling small cracks in door frames and window frames.

Acrylic Latex Silicone Blend Caulk
This type of caulk is a hybrid of acrylic, latex, and silicone caulks. It is easier to apply than regular silicone caulk but has a similar durability. Some types of acrylic latex silicone blend caulk can be painted to match certain color schemes. This type of caulk is good for both indoor and outdoor uses, including wood siding, cracks in brick and stone, and for weatherproofing windows and doors.

Kitchen and Bath Caulk
Kitchen and bath caulk is designed for use in areas that have high moisture content. It can stand up to mold and mildew growth and is excellent for sealing bathtubs, shower stalls, toilets, and sinks. It is available in a variety of colors to match your décor.

Butyl Rubber Caulk
Butyl rubber caulk is another popular caulk alternative. It is excellent for use in gaps and cracks that are up to ¼" wide, such as those appearing on windowsills and between doors and door frames. Strong and durable, butyl rubber caulk can last up to ten years when applied correctly. It is also comes in a range of colors or you can purchase colored tints to mix with the caulk to match the color exactly to your décor. Some butyl rubber caulks can also be used to fill cracks in stone, brick, and concrete.

Oil-Based Asphalt Caulk
This type of caulk is designed for use in heavy-duty repair jobs, including chimney repairs, flashing and air pipe sealing, and outdoor vent sealing. Similar to a soft tar, oil-based asphalt caulk hardens very quickly and provides durable sealing for up to 4 years.

Caulking Cord
Caulking cord is designed to be used as a temporary way of sealing off small gaps, such as those found around air conditioning units, windows and doors. Caulking cord comes on a roll and is then cut to size and placed in position. It can last anywhere between one and two years.