How Do I Know If I Need Caulking?

Check around windows and doors. You should replace the caulk around these areas if it is split or cracking. Also check the interior side of doors, windows, baseboards, spigots, vent ducts, skylights, attic fans, fireplaces, or other wall penetrations. If you feel a draft coming out of any of these areas, you should caulk it.

What Type of Caulk Should I Use?

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 for your situation.  Read product labels and manufacturers’ literature and ask your salesperson for his or her recommendation.

Disclaimer: When it comes to specifics about materials, Newborn suggests you contact the material manufacturer for the best results.

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.

  1. Oil Base Painter’s Caulk (1-2 year life) – Not very elastic.  Dries out easily.  Paintable after curing.  Lowest cost.
  2. Latex (3-10 year life) – Use mostly indoors.  Goes on easily.  Low elasticity.  Sticks to porous surfaces only.  Easy water cleanup.  Low in cost.  Paintable.
  3. Butyl Rubber (3-10 year life) – High elasticity.  Sticks to most surfaces.  High moisture resistance.  Flexible when cured.  Most difficult to work with as it is very sticky.
  4. Acrylic Latex (10 year life) – Good elasticity.  Sticks to most surfaces.  Reasonable moisture resistance.  Paintable.  Good for around doors and windows.  May not be used below freezing.
  5. Silicone-Latex Blend (20+ year life) – Good elasticity.  Excellent weathering ability.   Medium shrinkage.  Adheres to most surfaces.  Some cannot be painted.  May not be used below freezing.
  6. Silicone (20-50 year 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.
  7. Urethane (20-50 year life) – Excellent elasticity and adhesion.  Excellent moisture resistance. Easy cleanup.  Strong odor possible while curing.  Low shrinkage.

How Do I Apply Caulk To A Joint?

Surface Preparation: Carefully remove any old caulking material with a razor blade or putty knife.  If repairing concrete or masonry, use a wire brush to remove any loose material .  On smooth surfaces, such as aluminum or glass, wipe the area with isopropyl alcohol or sealant primer and immediately dry with a clean cloth to remove any dirt, grease or residue.

Tape: Use masking tape to prevent caulk from adhering to unwanted surfaces.  Be sure to remove before caulk dries on the tape.  Place strips of masking tape around the area to be caulked.  This helps to keep the bead neat.  Once the caulk is applied and smoothed, remove the tape and the excess caulk comes off with it.

Insert Backer Rod: If joint is wide, insert backer rod or bond breaker tape into the joint. Remember to use a backer rod that is 25% larger than the joint.

Cut caulk spout: Cut tip at a 45 degree angle with a Newborn spout cutter (built in the caulk gun) or knife.  Cut at the desired bead size to match joint size – Remember, a smaller bead can always be made larger, but you are stuck with the larger sized bead.  Please start small and adjust as needed.

Place cartridge into gun.

To apply caulk, squeeze the trigger and push, or pull, the gun along the gap.  Pushing the gun drives caulk down into the gap and gives you better adhesion.  However, in some cases (particularly where the side materials are rough or uneven), a pulling motion may work better so that the cartridge will be less likely to get snagged along the joint.

To finish the joint, use our Caulk Buddy Finishing Tool.  With your index finger on top of the Caulk Buddy, press and follow the joint downward.  The Caulk Buddy will smooth the line and collect the excess.  After you have a perfect bead, wipe the excess from the Caulk Buddy.  Use the caps provided with the Caulk Buddy to cap your nozzle to preserve the unused caulk.

If your gun did not come with a Caulk Buddy Finishing Tool, to finish the joint, wet your finger with soapy water (if the caulk is formulated for soap and water cleanup) or dab of automotive hand cleaner (if the caulk is formulated for solvent cleanup).  Run your finger along the joint, smoothing it and pressing the caulk into the joint.  Wipe away excess with a rag.

Methods of Releasing Flow Pressure

Standard Ratchet Rod Guns

You must hold the gun in one hand and simultaneously twist and retract the push rod with the other hand, releasing the pressure and stopping the flow of material.

Standard Smooth Rod guns

Pressure is released by pushing a lever located on the back of the handle with the thumb (thumb release), causing the push rod to slip and back up, stopping the flow of material.

Automatic Flow Stop (Drip-Free)

Each time the trigger action is released, the push rod will slip and back up, releasing the pressure and automatically stopping the flow of material.

Drip-Free on Demand

Designed for the professional or the serious DIY’er who needs bead control from start to finish. Standard Drip-Free models release pressure after every stroke, making it very difficult to apply a long continuous bead. However, Dripless on Demand models allow the user to have the best of both worlds, the constant flow needed for smooth caulk jobs or Drip-Free “stop-flow” when it comes time to end the bead. All by just quickly releasing the trigger.

As you can well imagine, there are a variety of caulking guns available in the marketplace today.  Newborn has over 50 different models available, including sausage pack, bulk loaders, dual component, pneumatic, as well as the standard ratchet & smooth rod described above.