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Choosing The Right Caulking- Part 2

A number of factors must be considered when choosing caulking. They include durability, flexibility, whether the caulk can be painted and, of course, price.

The most expensive caulk is not always the best product for every job, so you should carefully consider which product is appropriate to your situation. Read product labels and manufacturers’ literature, and ask your salesperson for his or her recommendation.

Here is a list of common caulks and their characteristics. Different types of caulking are designed for different applications, and quality can vary among different brands of the same type because of different formulations used.

Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

  • Oil-Base Painter’s Caulk (1-2 yr. life) – Not very elastic. Dries out easily. Paintable after curing. Lowest cost.
  • Latex (3-10 yr. life) – Use mostly indoors. Goes on easily. Low elasticity. Sticks to porous surfaces only. Easy water cleanup. Low in cost. Paintable.
  • Butyl Rubber (3-10 yr. life) – High elasticity. Sticks to most surfaces. High moisture resistance. Flexible when cured. Most difficult to work with as it is very sticky.
  • Acrylic Latex (10 yr. life) – Good elasticity. Sticks to most surfaces. Reasonable moisture resistance. Paintable. Good for around doors and windows. May not be used below freezing.
  • Silicon-Latex Blend (20+ yr. life) – Good elasticity. Excellent weathering ability. Medium shrinkage. Adheres to most surfaces. Some cannot be painted. May not be used below freezing.
  • Silicone (20-50 yr. life) – Excellent elasticity. Sticks very well. Excellent moisture resistance. Needs solvent to clean. Strong odor possible while curing. Low shrinkage. Generally not paintable, but available in many colors. May not be used below freezing. May be applied to wood, asphalt or metal, but not vinyl or masonry.
  • Urethane (20-50 yr. life) – Excellent elasticity and adhesion. Excellent moisture resistance. Easy cleanup. Strong odor possible while curing. Low shrinkage. May not be used below freezing. May be applied to wood, brick, asphalt, metal, vinyl or concrete.
  • Elastomeric Copolymers (50+ yr. life) – Excellent elasticity and adhesion. Will stick to damp surfaces. Can be applied below freezing. Cleanup with lacquer thinner. May be applied to wood, brick, asphalt, metal, vinyl or concrete.
  • Polyurethane Foam Sealant (in aerosol can) – A specialized expanding foam product useful for filling large gaps. Expanding foam may be tricky to apply because of the amount of expansion but has excellent sealing and insulation qualities.
  • How Caulks Are Packaged – 10-oz. (approx.) tubes for standard caulking guns are the most common size, but 1-qt. builder’s tubes, 5-oz. squeeze tubes and rope caulk are also available. Approximate coverage, 10-oz. tube: 400′ at 1/4′ bead, 200′ at 3/8′, 100′ at 1/2′.
  • Caulk Backer Rod – Most caulks should not be used on cracks larger than 3/8′ or more than 1/2′ deep (check the instructions). Fill large cracks with flexible foam backer rod.

    For home improvement advice, visit JS West Lumber & Ace Hardware Sonora, Ca. or visit www.acehardware.com and click on the Answers@Ace icon. Answers@Ace is an online resource with information for do-it-yourselfers about hardware and home improvement projects. The Everyday Projects section has pictures and detailed, step-by-step instructions for this and many more home improvement projects.


    To speak to an Ace Hardware advisor in Sonora call: 209 532 7446.