Air leaks around your windows and doors can decrease the energy efficiency of your house — and drive up your utility bills. Apart from being an aesthetic flaw, water leaks, on the other hand, can cause further water damage on the affected site. Or worse, they can cause your property’s structural integrity to weaken. To fix both issues, caulking or weatherstripping should be done.
Caulks are used to fill the gaps where air and water seep into your home through areas like windows and doors. Weatherstripping materials are also an alternative. They are available in different types such as tension seal and foam tape — each with their own advantages and ways of installation.
Caulk is a highly versatile home improvement material used to seal, fill gaps, or glue different things. Most caulks for residential use are commonly made of acrylic, silicone and polyurethane.
Acrylic caulks are used to fill leaks in doors and windows, as well as in molding around rooms. They can be painted over and become very rigid once they get dried. Meanwhile, silicone and polyurethane caulks are used for wet environments like bathtubs and sinks because of their flexibility and ability to retain durability despite being exposed to water.
Table of Contents
- How to Caulk Windows and Doors
- What are the Different Weatherstripping Materials
- How to Weatherstrip Windows and Doors
- Why You Should Promptly Address Window and Door Leaks
How to Caulk Windows and Doors
The process of caulking is generally the same across different areas. The materials you’d need include:
Here’s a step-by-step on how to use caulk for sealing windows and doors:
- 1First, you have to ensure that your site is clean and completely dry. If your window or door has oil and dust, it will affect the way the caulk will adhere to the part you want to seal. Like any other home improvement project, prep time is crucial.
- 2After preparing, you now have to remove the old caulk — which is one of the most challenging aspects of this process. Use a caulk softener or remover first. Allow it to be absorbed by your old caulk for around two to three hours.
- 3Then, you can now mechanically remove the old caulk starting from the top and carefully down to the bottom. Ideally, your caulk should come off as one strip. But for older caulks, they would probably break down into large chunks. Use your scraper or putty knife to remove all the remaining caulk. Clean the area using appropriate materials (clean water for wood, mineral spirits for tiles; wipe dry afterward).
- 4Place your caulk tube into the gun following the manufacturer’s instructions. Just make sure that the tube will firmly fit into the gun. Typically, one tube is used to seal a whole window or door. When cutting the tube of the caulk, it’s best to cut at a 45-degree angle for it to fit into your window or door seam.
- 5Identify the area you want to fill and place the tip of your caulk gun into that part. Be careful when squeezing the trigger because you’d only need a little bit of caulk. Slowly move along the gap you want to fill until you reach the joint.
- 6For doors, here’s an added step you should not ignore. If there are gaps larger than a quarter inch, you’d need to stiff it with a foam back rod first before applying the caulking. Skipping this one will only cause your caulk to open up at one point in the future.
- 7Using a caulk tool, run it over the said joint for a clean finish.
- 8After all gaps have been filled, cap the nozzle of your gun to prevent the caulk tube from hardening and clogging your gun.
- 9Give it time for your newly applied caulk to dry. For best results, the drying time should be around 12 to 15 hours. If you used acrylic caulks and you want to have them painted to blend with the color of its surroundings, do so after the caulk has been completely dried.
What are the Different Weatherstripping Materials
As mentioned, weatherstripping can also be used if a door or window seal is leaking. Here are the different options you have:
Also called a V-channel or V-strip, the tension seal can be made from aluminium, vinyl, or stainless steel. They are more suitable for leaking double-hung or sliding windows. Once in place, they won’t be visible — maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your window or door. You can attach this one by simply peeling and sticking it or by using nails.
You can avail this one in its plain form or reinforced with a metal strip. While it is relatively budget-friendly, felt weatherstrips can only last up to two years. You can attach them using a staple or a nail. They are commonly found in the door’s jamb or around a door or window sash.
Homeowners typically use foam tapes inside door frames and at the top and bottom of window sashes. They come in different widths and thickness, making them a great opinion if the crack you got has an irregular shape. This weatherstripping material is either made from EPDM rubber (with a stick portion in the back) or from open- or closed-cell foam. Take note that foam tapes are visible and can be easily damaged by heavy wear.
As its name implies, door sweeps are used on the bottom interior side of your door. They are made from aluminium, plastic or stainless steel fitted with a sponge brush, plastic or vinyl. To install a door strip, you have to cut it first to fit the width of your door and then screw it afterward.
Tubular Vinyl, Rubber, or Silicone
This material is a popular choice for addressing air leaks. The silicone seal is usually inserted into milled grooves. On the other hand, rubber and vinyl are used by peeling and sticking and peeling them into the gaps or by fastening them with the use of screws.
How to Weatherstrip Windows and Doors
Weatherstripping is a relatively easier job. To weatherstrip a window, you’d simply need a razor blade to cut off the damaged weatherproofing. Following what’s stated above, you can now attach your new material. Just make sure that you’d be able to fit it tightly to properly close any gaps.
For doors, you have to ensure first that the new weatherstripping material is a good fit. You need to have proper measurements and based on that, cut the weatherstripping before nailing it to the frame.
Before installing the new weatherstrip, the site should be thoroughly cleaned and dried first.
Why You Should Promptly Address Window and Door Leaks
Sealing leaky windows and doors is a task you shouldn’t neglect. And these are the top reasons why you need to address such an issue as soon as possible.
Increase energy efficiency
With no gaps where air can leak, you are effectively keeping the efficient airflow within your home. Your HVAC unit or system won’t have to “overwork” just to provide you the cool or warm air that you need. And as a result, you will save money and avoid incurring unusually high electric bills. On top of this, you can guarantee the comfort of living in a place with the right indoor temperature.
Prevent pests from entering your home
When you have a gap in your door or window, it will be much easier for pests and little critters to find their way inside your home. And these creatures — from mosquitoes to bugs to centipedes — are all unwelcome guests. They pose serious health risks and damage the very structure of your home. Additionally, mold can also pass through these gaps and cause mold spores to spread in other areas of your home.
Prolong your windows’ and doors’ lifespan
Making sure that your windows and doors are tightly sealed will ultimately help you maximize their lifespan. You won’t have to worry about critters and other damaging substances or contaminants entering your home through these access points. Ultimately, you will benefit from avoiding costly repairs in the future — and to top it all off, you will also get to boost the market value of your property.