Few finishing materials beat the usefulness of caulk. Caulk can fill gaps, breaks and cracks across several different types of surfaces. Tiny cracks on your home’s exterior may seem insignificant at first, but they can quickly turn into a major problem. This is where caulking comes in.
With proper exterior caulking on your home, you can prevent heat loss around your windows and doors and keep cooling and heating costs down. You can also avoid expensive repair bills by sealing cracks in your driveway or foundation with caulking. There are many types of caulk to choose from, so before you start your home improvement project, we’ll help you determine how to pick the best option for your home.
How Often Should You Check Exterior Caulk?
We recommend inspecting the caulk around the exterior of your home every year, before the wet season, for optimal performance. You may want to schedule your inspection for early or mid-summer so that you have time to address issues before inclement weather hits.
If your home is new construction, the foundation may shift in the first few years, so you should carefully and regularly monitor the caulking during this time. Additionally, if you notice any drafts or your energy bill has gone up, examine your house for damaged caulk.
How to Check Your Home Exterior Caulking
As a homeowner, you know how important it is to keep your home draft-proof and insulated. To properly examine your home’s exterior caulking, check for the following:
- Cracked caulking: Examine the caulking around your doors, windows and plumbing, including your showers, toilets, sinks and tubs. Caulking exterior windows can save you on energy costs and keep you warm this winter.
- Faded paint: Conventional sidings typically need to be repainted every few years, so during your inspection, check for faded paint. A fresh coat can help you avoid pest or water intrusion and save you significantly in dry rot repairs.
- Rotten trim: We recommend touching or applying pressure on the trim around windows doors and outside corners to see if the trim is rotten.
Why Is It Important to Recaulk Per Manufacturer Recommendations?
Depending on the manufacturer, caulking will only perform its job for a certain number of years. Check your manufacturer’s specs to find out how long that is. If you don’t know what kind of caulk was used, periodic inspection is vital. If the caulk isn’t maintained properly, your caulking will eventually turn hard and crack. This can cause potential water intrusion behind your cladding and possibly into your home.
Additionally, not all types of caulks are created equal. Each one has a classification. For example, caulk may be classified as class 25 or class 50. This refers to how much it’ll stretch before it breaks. A class 25 will stretch 25% of its volume before it breaks, and a class 50 will stretch 50%.
If you install a bead at 1/8” of class 50, it’ll break after being stretched to 3/16”. All building materials expand and contract, especially on the exterior of your home. The window will shrink or grow at a different rate than the trim and siding — thus the importance of leaving larger spaces to fill with sealant to ensure they perform longer.
Best Caulk for the Exterior of a House
You can find exterior caulking in a wide variety of materials. Below are some popular exterior caulking options for your home:
- Silicone caulk: For many caulking jobs, silicone caulk is often the go-to material. This type of caulk is resistant to weather, water, temperature and chemicals, which makes it ideal for both interior and exterior applications. For example, silicone is a great exterior caulk for siding. Though other types of caulks may be better for certain applications, silicone remains popular due to its widespread use and utility in a broad range of purposes.
- Butyl rubber caulk: Commonly used for industrial or commercial settings, butyl rubber caulk is ultraviolet-resistant and can seal exterior locations that frequently experience direct exposure to sunlight. Butyl rubber caulk is highly flexible, so it’s an excellent option for sealing gutters, housing foundations and chimney flashings where movement and moisture accumulation commonly occur.
- Acrylic latex caulk: Inexperienced caulkers may want to choose acrylic latex caulk. Acrylic latex is one of the easiest to apply and creates a smooth finish. It’s also the only type you can clean up using water. When painting, acrylic latex is also the best option. Look for versions that contain silicone, as they can offer greater adhesion and flexibility.
- Polyurethane caulk: Also referred to as poly caulk, this kind of caulk is tougher than other options. This makes it an ideal option for trim, drives and parts of your house that may be exposed to the elements. The downside of this caulk is that its gooey consistency can make it hard to control.
- Hybrid caulk: If you want caulk that combines the characteristics of polyurethane and silicone, choose a hybrid caulk. Though you likely won’t find “hybrid” on the label, you can identify these types of caulks by their higher cost and mix of materials. They’re a bit more difficult to use than acrylic latex but easier to work with than polyurethane.
- Solvent-based caulk: Solvent-based caulk is excellent for gutters and roofing jobs, as direct sunlight doesn’t degrade it. If necessary, solvent-based exterior caulks can be applied to a wet surface. Since the consistency of solvent-based caulk can make it challenging to apply neatly, you’ll need some skill to use this type of caulk.
How to Recaulk Your House
Since caulk takes a little time to dry, repairing your caulk during a season with less rain is ideal. Apply caulk only when the surface is dry, so if it rained recently or it’s early in the morning, wait to apply the caulk. Be sure to remove any old caulking, clean the area if it’s dirty and nail down loose siding before caulking. Then, apply the caulk according to the instructions.
It can be challenging to learn how to caulk exterior siding yourself. If you want the job done right, you can hire a team of professionals to take care of the job for you.
Contact Us at Renew by Grace Point
Depending on the tools available and your construction skills, installing your own siding, roof or exterior system could be dangerous and damage your home. At Renew by Grace Point, we provide new installation, repair or replacement for exterior systems, such as:
When you contact our office, you can request an estimate. An estimator can meet with you to examine your home and discuss your specific needs. If work is approved, then contracts will be issued and a start date will be scheduled. After the project is complete, a warranty will be provided for the products installed, and you get to enjoy the new features of your home.
Contact us at Renew by Grace Point today to get started!