Windows are relatively low maintenance; however they do need periodic upkeep to be as energy efficient as possible. Proper caulking (the use of a sealant to fill gaps around a surface) is necessary to prevent windows from leaking air. Caulking should be replaced whenever you notice cracks or gaps in the existing caulk, feel dampness around the window, or find that your windows are drafty. If your windows need to be re-caulked, follow these tips for a successful application.
- Choose the right product. Caulk and sealants, while similar, do have some differences. Caulk is more rigid in nature and is best used indoors where there is less expansion. Sealants react better to expansion and are a better choice for outdoors. Caulk is easy to clean up and can be painted, as opposed to sealants which must be cleaned with a solvent and cannot be painted.
- Apply at the right time. The type of caulk or sealant you choose will determine when it is best to apply it. Water-based caulk can be applied when the temperature is between 40 and 100 degrees. Acrylic caulk with silicone is best applied at 70 degrees. Silicone sealant should be applied above -20 degrees and below 122 degrees and polyurethane sealant can be applied at all temperatures. Avoid applying any type of caulk or sealant when the weather is very humid or when the pollen count is high, as this can interfere with the efficiency of the product.
- Remove old caulk first. Moisture may have seeped underneath the caulk which can cause molding and decay. This should be addressed before applying a new layer. If the old caulk is shrinking or cracking, this will continue even with the new caulk and problems will remain. After removing the old caulk, clean the area thoroughly.
- Use a steady hand. Caulk should be applied with a caulk gun. Support the caulk gun with both hands and press evenly on the trigger to disperse a consistent amount of caulk Don’t try to caulk the entire length of the window at once. Go halfway and stop, then pick up again from the middle. This will ensure a uniform bead of caulk.
- Smooth after application. After caulking, it’s important to smooth out the beading for a clean look. Using a wet finger or a caulk applicator, start about six inches from the bottom of the window and smooth downward. Move up the window and work in small sections, always smoothing down. This will prevent excess caulk from building up on the sides of the seams.
Once your windows are re-caulked your home will be much more energy-efficient, keeping the temperature comfortable and saving you money. The window experts at Atkinson’s Mirror and Glass are always available to answer questions regarding window maintenance or any other window topic. To speak with a member of our team, call us at (208) 375-3762 or get in touch with us online.