Often, the relative humidity in homes drops significantly during winter because of the cold outdoor temperatures. The air can even be drier if your home has a central or furnace heat. Low relative humidity causes wood moulding and shrinking of floorboards. This results in visible cracks. If you’re living in an area where the temperature swing from summer to winter is wide and you have just installed new woodwork, then there’s a likelihood you’ll experience this. Paint your home during warm weather and your wood is going to expand. This is due to high humidity and temperature.
Come winter, your humidity and temperature levels drop, causing the wood to shrink. This results in each piece of your trim separating a bit from its neighbour, cracking the moulding and caulking as well as the paint. It can be frustrating and expensive to find yourself calling in a painter to renovate your home every winter due to cracking of your moulding and caulking. Besides, the cracks are unsightly. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to alleviate or minimize these issues. Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of caulking services
Get a humidifier. It’s almost impossible to avoid cracks in wood-framed homes during winter. If you’re not humidifying your home, then the wooden parts that swell during summer are going to shrink in the colder months of the year. This is what causes cracks in the moulding and caulking. One of the easiest ways to stop cracking of your moulding and caulking is to set up a central humidifier in your home. You can add it directly to your heating system. This option treats your home’s air supply to help maintain a comfortable humidity level by using your existing ductwork.
Another option can be to set up several portables humidifies throughout your home. However, it can be more costly to acquire and use the equipment. It means you’ll have to pay the extra utility costs. Moreover, maintaining them can be a heavy task. Use the right caulk one of the decorator’s worst nightmares is to use a caulk that cracks when painted over. Once a crack begins, fluctuating temperature and humidity can easily and quickly magnify it into a major issue. Unfortunately, this problem is all too common. To avoid this, look for the best quality product for your caulking and moulding work.
The solution is to look for a high-quality flexible acrylic filler. This decorator’s caulk works well with any type of oil or water-based paint. Moreover, you don’t need to spray on a primer or stabilizer or even thin your paint down what’s more! With a record drying time of less than one hour, it means you can finish the job quickly.
All About Caulk and Caulking
What Is Caulk Used For?
Caulk is used to infilling gaps, to seal, and to glue.
There are specific caulk types for bathrooms, kitchens, concrete, gutters, moulding, roof, windows, plumbing, interior and exterior jobs, and more.
- Silicone and polyurethane caulk is commonly used to seal in a wet environment as they don’t degrade when exposed to water, are flexible, and can create a perfect seal. You’ll find it commonly used around bathtubs, toilets, sinks, and to seal around windows.
- Acrylic Caulk is commonly used to fill gaps in moulding around rooms, doors, and windows. It dries hard and isn’t flexible, and can be painted over without worrying about it cracking.
- Polysulfide Caulks are designed for joints that need to withstand prolonged immersion in liquids. Typical applications include swimming pools, fountains, cooling towers, fuel and chemical storage tanks, wastewater treatment and petrochemical plants.
How Was Caulk Used and Made in the Past?
Caulking (or calking) was commonly used in history and prehistory as a way to make seams in wooden ships watertight. The Vikings used a method called Clinker (or lapstrake), which was overlapping boards clinched together and then riveted together by brass or iron rivets. The more relevant method (for our caulking discussion) for making ships watertight is called Carvel construction. Check out Hitch Property Constructions for a huge range of Melbourne caulking services
In Carvel construction, caulking involved using a scraper and hook to clean out the seam between the planks and then to use a caulking mallet and caulking irons to pound and compress caulking into the seam. The caulking used was usually “oakum” which was tarred hemp cordage material.
After caulking, the seams would be covered with hot pitch. Below the waterline, the caulked seams would be filled with paint. Above the waterline white lead was commonly used. This was known as “paying” the hull.
Caulking did not last forever, and hulls would need to have caulking repaired, or be re-caulked at intervals.
None of these wooden shipbuilding techniques was perfect at keeping all water out. Ships took on the water, especially when being twisted or “worked” by severe weather. Pumps, or bailers in the case of the Vikings, were employed to get unwanted water out of the hull.
How Is Caulk Made?
Caulks are all made from one of four base compounds: acrylic latex, silicone, polyurethane or rubber. The base compound determines specific characteristics, such as what materials it will adhere to, how easily joints can be smoothed, durability, paintability, etc.
Latex and acrylic caulk is water-based and made up of synthetic polymers that resemble natural latex—but there is no actual latex in them. They are an umbrella term, and within this category of synthetic water-based paints are a variety of specific types.
Silicone rubber is an elastomer (rubber-like material) composed of silicone—itself a polymer—containing silicon together with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Silicone rubbers are widely used in industry, and there are multiple formulations.
Polyurethanes are formed by reacting a polyol (an alcohol with more than two reactive hydroxyl groups per molecule) with a diisocyanate or a polymeric isocyanate in the presence of suitable catalysts and additives.
Polysulfides are a class of chemical compounds containing chains of sulphur atoms. Many commercial elastomers contain polysulfides as crosslinks. Polysulfide should not be used on plastics as they will degrade the plastic they are attached to.
Can You Make Your Own Caulk?
A mixture of baking soda and wood glue will work in a pinch. Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with enough glue to create a thick mixture. You won’t have access to a tube dispenser to cleanly apply your DIY caulk. I’ve had mixed success with things like cut straws, Popsicle sticks, and a small spoon. This caulk will work OK in instances when you need to close a gap, as when you are painting moulding or similar types of touch-ups. It isn’t a good long-term fix, and you’ll have to eventually pull it out when it moves or cracks with time. Modern caulks are so common, cheap, and available. There is really no real reason to make your own.
What Is the Best Way to Caulk?
No matter what job you’re doing or which type of caulk you are using, the process for applying caulk is mostly the same.
- Make sure the area you are caulking is clean of oils and dust. Wipe it down and make sure it is totally dry. Caulk will not adhere evenly to a wet area, and you will end up having to remove the caulk and do it again. Take the time to prep your area properly!
- Place your caulk tube into your gun by releasing the tab and pulling the hook back. The tube should fit firmly. Push the hook down until it bottoms out. Don’t squeeze yet!
- Grab your utility knife and slice open the nub, being careful not to cut off the threads. You’ll need those threads to attach your nozzle!
- Get your tube nozzle and screw it on. Use your utility knife again to cut the tip-off. The smaller your hole, the more economical your application will be, and that is a good thing.
- Set the tip of your gun in the corner of the area you want to fill. Gently squeeze the trigger of the gun until a small bead of caulk comes out.
- Don’t use too much! A little bit goes a long way. Move slowly along your gap and squeeze gently on your gun’s trigger until you reach the end of your joint.
- Take your caulking tool and run it over the joint to clean up your bead. If you have any gaps, carefully fill them and re-run your caulking tool over the joint.
Make sure to set your caulking gun down on to a paper towel or rag. Cap your nozzle when you are done so that the caulk doesn’t harden and clog your tube.
How to Remove Caulk
Removing old caulk can be a painful experience, but it doesn’t have to be! Take your time, use the right tools, and try to stay focused and eventually you’ll get there.
- Start with some quality caulk remover before you start with mechanical removal. Apply and wait as long as you can. The instructions say to wait two to three hours, but with old caulk, you should wait longer. Overnight is best if you can.
- I highly recommend getting one of these tools. Use the tool to slice along the top and bottom rim of the caulk.
- Use the hook to grab underneath the strip of caulk and pull it out. If you are lucky, it will all come up in one satisfying strip. For old caulk, it is likely to break and come out in chunks. Get out what you can and then carefully use a clean scraper tool to get the rest of the caulk off.
- For tile, clean off the area you’re going to re-caulk with mineral spirits. For wood, you should wipe it clean with water. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
Tips for Caulking on a Quality Home Painting Project
Adhesion is an important factor for caulking to be successful. Poor adhesion will result in the caulk pulling away from the surface and in some cases, just falling out. Lack of adhesion is sometimes due to sheetrock dust that has not been cleaned off the surface, or from low-quality paint that is chalky. A clean surface is critical to adhesion.
Sometimes when cracks are very tight or too small, the caulk is not able to get into the crack, but will only bridge over the surface. This results in splitting with even minor temperature and humidity changes because the caulk did not get into the crack. There should be 16th of an inch to one-quarter of an inch gap in the crack to be filled successfully. When caulking interior trims the caulk is usually wet wiped to remove the excess and to give a clean look. If too much is removed in the wiping process, it will result in a very thin bead that will readily crack and split.
When caulking interior trim to the wall and ceiling surfaces; i.e., crown mouldings, door and window frames, baseboards, etc., caulk will sometimes fail if the trim pieces are not nailed tight. If you can push on a piece of trim and it moves it must be nailed tighter. Caulk is affected by temperature, humidity changes and even vibrations. One area that is particularly susceptible to caulk splitting is on the staircases of the house where the stringers meet the walls. This is due to the vibrations from people walking up-and-down the staircase. One key to successful caulking of stringers is that they must be nailed tight.
Exterior caulk should be applied thicker than interior caulk in order to endure the more dramatic weather changes. If the caulk is put on with too small of a bead, it is more susceptible to cracking and splitting.
10 Problems You Can Solve with Caulk
Seal Drafts with Caulk
Sealing leaks around doors and windows is the best way to reduce drafts, cut home energy costs, enhance your house’s energy efficiency, and decrease your carbon footprint, according to the Consumer Federation of America. For this job, choose either acrylic latex (available on Amazon) or vinyl latex caulk (also available on Amazon). Acrylic latex works best in dry environments and will perform well for up to 15 years, while vinyl latex can be used in damp areas and lasts about five years.
Seal Concrete and Mortar with Caulk
Concrete and mortar repair caulk (available on Amazon) is an excellent tool for sealing cracks and gaps in concrete, brick, stucco, stone, and metal. Similarly, it’s perfect for repairing small fissures in foundations and basement walls that allow insects, rodents, and other pests to enter your home. Designed for both interior and exterior use, concrete and mortar repair, caulk has a textured finish and can be painted once dry. Check out our Melbourne caulking services here.
No matter how carefully you measure and cut, you often end up with little gaps between, above, and below mouldings and baseboards. When you need to close the gap, acrylic latex caulk is ideal for filling in those small spaces. The product dries quickly and can be painted as soon as six to eight hours after application. Acrylic latex also comes in a variety of different pigments, so you can match the colour to the surrounding material.
Never out of style in kitchens and bathrooms, tile has endured through the decades. Over time, however, small spaces can open up between tiles, and in moist environments, that’s an invitation for mould and mildew to gather behind the walls. There are several types of caulk that can be used in such situations. Ideal for wet environments, 100 per cent silicone caulk and siliconized acrylic caulk form a durable, watertight seal. Mould- and mildew-resistant silicone caulk is made for nonporous surfaces like ceramic, glass, and metal, while waterproof siliconized acrylic caulk works well on tubs, tile, glass, and ceramic tile surfaces. This Gorilla Glue sealant, available on Amazon, is ideal to use since it is 100 percent silicone, waterproof, and mould and mildew resistant.
When you need to cover small holes and tiny cracks prior to painting, painter’s caulk, an acrylic latex compound, is just what you need. Painter’s caulk (available at The Home Depot) adheres to wood, drywall, masonry, and other surfaces. And because it dries to a paintable texture in about an hour, it’s a good choice for busy DIYers.
A specialized type of caulk—fireproof caulk—does more than patch holes. It actually helps make your home safer by preventing fire from moving through open spaces within a structure. Fireproof caulk (available from The Home Depot) can be used to seal holes, gaps, and cracks around holes in interior framing, especially around plumbing or electrical conduits.
When a length of moulding falls off, a corner of carpet comes up, or a tile comes loose, it’s good-old all-purpose caulk that can fix it. Dab a little behind the loose material, then stick it back into place. You can even use all-purpose caulk (available on Amazon) to install wood panelling without nails.
Use Caulk for Wallpaper
Even professional decorators are sometimes stumped by wallpaper, but a little old-fashioned caulking can come to the rescue in a pinch. To keep wallpaper from pulling up as it dries, run caulk along all trimmed paper seams, especially in the corners, then smooth with a wet sponge or finger to remove any surface imperfections. For old wallpaper jobs that are starting to peel away from the wall, simply lift up the loose section and apply adhesive caulk under the paper, then smooth the paperback against the wall. Once the adhesive dries, apply another bead of caulk along the seam to keep it from peeling up again.
Roof Repair with Caulk
With the right caulk, you can even repair a roof! Roof repair caulk can be used to seal small cracks or gaps along roof edges, between shingles, and around skylights or to flash. As you might expect, roof repair caulk (available from Lowe’s) is completely weatherproof and waterproof and can be used on wet or dry surfaces.
Use Caulk on Gutters
As gutters age, they can develop cracks and gaps, especially around joints and downspout junctions. Butyl rubber caulk (available from Amazon), a strong waterproof sealant, can be used to seal joints in those damaged gutters. Dab a little onto the cracks to make your gutters leak-free and keep rainwater flowing out and away from your home.