What is caulking/sealant?
Caulking/sealant is a bead of (silicon, latex/acrylic, polyurethane, butyl/rubber) specific material that seals the penetrations, gaps, cracks and material intersections.
In actual caulk and sealant are two different names used interchangeably, but there is a difference in elasticity. Sealants (for example, silicon) are more elastic than caulks (latex/acrylic). For the sake of simplicity, we are using the word caulking here for both caulk and sealant.
What is the Purpose of caulking?
Caulking performs three critical functions:
- It prevents water invasion. As we discussed in our previous blog post, “water is the biggest enemy of the house.” Once the water gets behind the walls, it will rot the wood and weakens the building structure. Water also promotes mold and mildew growth, which cause many health-related problems.
- It reduces or eliminates air drafts. We pay money to condition (heat/cool) the air, and we want the temperature and humidity to be at certain levels. But, If there are gaps in the house, they will let the air in and out and make the envelope uncomfortable. Air leaks will cost you money and cause discomfort.
- The third important function of caulking is to improve the aesthetics of your property. The visual appearance of your house will be at a different level with the smooth and evenly applied caulking matching with the right colour paint.
Where to use the caulking?
- Around Wall penetrations for exhaust air, electrical wiring and plumbing fixtures. Doors and windows surroundings, exterior trim, dissimilar materials intersections.
- Around roof penetration, such as plumbing stacks, chimneys, electrical masts, skylights, ventilation ducts, flashings, gutters and downspouts.
- It can also fill masonry cracks, garage/driveway groove, concrete expansion and contraction joints.
- Around bathtubs, showers, sinks, splashbacks. Tile intersections, sink and countertop meeting points, where the toilet meets the floor.
- At wall ceiling intersections, along baseboards, trims and mouldings.
Now, we know the importance of caulking and the places where we have to caulk. The question that arises here, what is the best caulking material?
In order to answer the above question, I would say no caulk can do all the jobs. There are different materials available, and each is used for a specific purpose. Primarily, they are divided into four categories:
1. Latex/Acrylic 2. Silicon 3. Polyurethane 4. Butyl/Rubber
Let’s talk about them one by one
Latex: is the least expensive and less durable than silicon. It is paintable and is most suitable for indoor uses. Many people call it panter’s caulk.
Silicone: is flexible and waterproof; that’s why it is more suitable for wet locations such as bathrooms and kitchens. It offers less abrasion resistivity, so not the right choice for traffic areas.
Polyurethane: is very durable and adhesive. It is more abrasion resistant than silicon. It is mostly used for outdoor uses such as cracked masonry repairs, in concrete control joints, at exterior materials’ intersections. It also comes into foam that expands when applied, making it perfect for filling larger gaps and holes.
Butyl: is a rubber-based caulk, and it is highly flammable, so it should not be used inside. Rubber caulking is adhesive and water-resistant. This type of caulking is most suitable for caulking flashings, filling asphalt cracks, sealing roof penetrations and gutters.