The Right Way to Caulk a Window

Caulking is nothing less than an art. Hello again this is John Whalen and in this article I wanted to explain about some of the right ways and the wrong ways to caulk a window.

I can remember when the only type of caulking was in 5 gallon buckets, back then we had to use a metal tub caulking gun and actually fill the gun with caulking.   I would remove the end of the gun by unscrewing it, depress the plunger arm and place in the caulking and pull up on the plunger to fill the tube with the thick sealant.  The guns held the equivalent of maybe four tubes that we use today, not to mention being about 8 times heavier.  I think the guns are still in use today?  But all in all, the tubes used today are more efficient and less messy.

Anyways enough reminiscing... those were the days.

The caulking products today are much easier to work with than those used back when I started, in 1969.  Some notable improvements are that they are much more workable and smoother.  The latex type is probably the easiest to work with.  Latex is water soluble and for many dry areas,  is a good choice.  On windows, I would recommend latex only for interior  appearance type sealing, not for exterior.   One reason is that latex is a light base caulking (even the silicone latex) and light base caulking does not provide good adhesion nor does it expand and/or contract as well... not to mention they don't keep air and water out over the loooong term.  If you were to caulk a window with a silicone based caulking, you could go back to that window in about a year and pull the caulking off in one piece, with your bare hands.  Perhaps you have had this experience.

At JWS, we use a multi-polymer formula sealant that I believe is the best on the market today.  This heavier based product is designed to adhere to many types of surfaces -- from vinyl to brick.  This advanced sealant is specifically designed for use on windows, doors and siding and has many applications for roofing.   It adheres to surfaces without priming and creates a water/air-proof bond, stays flexible in extreme heat and extreme cold for 10+ years and still counting.  This is a definite requirement when it comes to windows.  Some 20 years ago... before the multi-polymere series caulking was available, we used a professional grade Styrene Butylene sealant called SBR.  This was a mid-weight sealant that was very workable and designed for window exteriors.  The problem that we ran into using this series of sealant was that after 5 to 8 years, the sealant would fade in color and dry-out, causing cracking in the bond.  Even though 5-8 years was a superior lifespan for caulking then, we were not satisfied.  We revisited a lot of customers and re-caulked the SBR sealant... ouch.   We decided at that time that we  wanted to find something that was as close to "maintenance-free" as we could find.  Since switching to our current multi-polymere sealant, we have revisited jobs at the 5 - 10 year level and inspected all condition of the sealants (color, bond, flexibility) and I am happy to report that they remain in excellent condition.

So, we have solved a major problem that exist in window and door installation; the sealant.  While it may seem insignificant in the function and performance of a window or door, in reality, it is one of the most important elements in keeping your home more energy efficient.  Poor sealants are responsible for air infiltration, water infiltration, bug infestation, formation of oxides (rot), and even worse -- MOLD.  Many companies use a lesser quality caulking on their installs, leaving the customer to deal with its inadequacies.  You won't get that here.  At JWS, we've learned from the school of hard knocks that it's better to invest more upfront in the proper sealants, supplies and materials than to pay later with a mountain of service calls and unhappy customers.  We supply all of our installers with the best sealants,  products and materials used on your home and make it policy that they are used.  Just one of the many reasons why dealing with an installation-based company like JWS is better than dealing with a sales-based company.  They might have great marketing and hype to sell windows and doors, but lack experience in proper installation and superior product and material knowledge.  These are things we learned over 40+ years of seeking installation perfection effort.

We at JWS offer craftsmanship, generations of experience, understanding of proper installation, superior knowledge in durable materials, and products that meet our 48 point quality checks.  As part of the 48 point inspection we look for and do things like ... securely fasten all trim using trim-slots to insure water and air tight connections from the new window to the homes surface, flashing properly and making sure everything is even and square before caulking.  These few procedures alone adds many years to each window we install.  It's worth repeating this will ensure a water and air tight exterior on your new windows.  I personally have performed countless service calls from installations done by other companies and exterior trim installed incorrectly is the main reason for water and air leak problems.  Some problems I inspected were "Severe" to say the least and required wood replacement and total re-installation.

Don't be a victim of sales hype and poor installation... Let the installation experts install your new windows... There is a better way.

I hope this article was helpful in understanding a few of the many caulking's available in the market today.  Mostly though, I hope you can see more clearly "The Right Way to Caulk a Window".