To caulk or not to caulk, questions or necessity?

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized


Published on October 06, 2010 with No Comments

Question or Necessity??

Dear Cecil,
We are the third owners of this home built in 1947. It has wood windows and trim. The exterior finish is wood with a smooth wood grain finish. Here is the dilemma…..I am noticing stains on the inside of the window sills. I think it’s from water settling there. I went outside and looked at the widows and I noticed separation and cracking around the wood trim to the siding. I decided to check around the house, I looked at the wood around the doors and they were separated from the siding. I also noticed that there were gaps where the siding met each other.

We have lived here for nearly three years. The previous owners had the house recently stained before we purchased it. So, I knew it was well protected. However, during my little inspection I found a few pieces of the wood blotchy, like it was wet. When I touched this area it was perfectly dry. I realized it just looked wet as the other sections were just faded. My husband said that it is normal for exteriors to fade in different areas. He also said that we would be more beneficial to caulk the windows in the fall. I say now. Any advice?


Dear Jackie and Chronicle readers,

The trim around your windows and doors which are separates from your siding is called brick mold. The separation between your 8” cedar smooth sanded wood grain siding is called a joint. Many areas need caulked. I suggest you do all the openings and as many joints as needed. I would recommend at least another coat of solid stain applied to the exterior and repaint the brick mold.
Let me say that although you get many benefits of the application of caulking in the fall, you get more by doing it now. Plus waiting three months could mean more work.
You said you wanted to do this task. That is fine as long as you know what you are doing. Doing the prep work can save you as much as fifty percent if you are going to have a professional do the staining and painting.
First the caulking process: A) Put your safety goggles on. Get yourself two small putty knives 1” and 1.5”, a steel brush, and a chisel ½”. B) Use the tool necessary to remove cracked/partially missing caulk from around the brick mold and joints. Use the chisel on hard caulk, brush to remove peeling, and putty knives where necessary. Clean this area, fill gaps with foam before caulking or backer rod. C) Most caulking guns have a snipper in the handle. If you have an older one cut the nozzle about 3/8” down from the tip on a slight angle. Use the puncture tool on the gun or a long nail to insert into the hole that snip made and push into tube of caulk. This will break the seal. (Note:) there are various types of caulk. For this project I would recommend a 50 yr or lifetime paintable / stainable
caulk.) Insert caulk into the caulking gun. D) Now apply the tip of the caulk gun to the crack or opening, begin squeezing the trigger. The caulk will begin to emerge so tilt your gun at a slight angle and start from the top and work downwards in a slow motion squeezing with the right amount of trigger pressure to keep the caulk flowing. For top and bottom cracks you may apply left to right or right to left. E) Once the crack or gap is filled wet you pinky finger and run it along the line of caulk. Keep paper towels handy wiping the excess off your finger when build up occurs. F) Check your results, are you satisfied? Then move on to the next opening…except this time do better.

It’s a pretty easy project, just take your time. I get the best results out of a silicone acrylic latex caulk. You can also use an acrylic latex. If you use silicone make sure it’s the same color that you are going to stain or paint. A lot of professionals will purchase the exact matching caulk to the stain whey they are coating the exterior. Many stain manufacturers can supply the caulk.
As far as the fading of your stain on the siding, most stains fade true which means the color stays the same throughout aging. What happened in your case is some of your siding nails and siding joints lacked caulk and this caused water to seep inside causing the spotting. Some of the wood is checking (opening up).

This is the reason I recommend another coat of stain.

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