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New Sealing Products

By By Tom Tate

We regularly advise our readers to search out and seal gaps in their home’s exterior. Even small gaps are nefarious wasters of energy. How can small gaps waste energy? Because of the temperature and pressure differential between the inside of your home and the outside. The take away is this, gaps encourage wasting of conditioned air. This impacts both your budget and comfort. Here is a handy EPA site that gives additional details on the reasons for sealing and presents traditional solutions. Energy Star

The title of this article says “new” sealing products. I will be taking a bit of liberty and interpreting that to mean “new to me” and maybe new to you as well. Today, I am focusing on traditional tube caulk alternatives.

Anyone out there really like to caulk? Being something of a perfectionist when it comes to such projects, I like a nice, even bead of caulk. Achieving that takes time, patience and practice…three commodities that are often in short supply. And, it is messy. So what are your alternatives when it comes to caulking?

Let’s begin with peel-able caulk. Peel-able? I have experienced that phenomenon when I apply tube caulk incorrectly. To do it purposively captured my fancy so I looked into it. This product is exactly what its name implies, you caulk and when you need to, easily peel it away without damage or special tools. Reading a few reviews of one product supported the ease of removal claims. And, since it is clear, it is useful in cases like old, historic windows. A reviewer caulked around all the panes of glass in addition to the perimeter…on a couple dozen old windows. That’s diligence! Another applied acoustic ceiling tiles in a home theater so the panels could be repositioned if needed. Not energy saving but cool. If the instructions say it smells, believe them. That was a recurring theme in reviews. It goes away but is powerful for a day or two.

Then I came across an old friend, caulking cord. Caulk in a coil that you press into place. This is a nice alternative to the caulk gun approach. Plus it has the advantage of longer shelf life after opening when stored correctly. It is handy for small spots too. Got a gap or crack, press some of this into it. It gets excellent reviews too. From what I can tell, it still only comes in light gray. But is paintable.

Crazy Foam has been around for years and is great for larger cracks. It has an odd finished appearance (ask my wife) so be careful where you use it. For sealing really large areas, you can now get DIY spray foam kits. I love spray foam insulation for large, hard to handle areas. Unfortunately, it has generally required professional skills to apply. Now it looks like I can seal the headers in my basement (the areas between the joists on the outside walls) myself.

Another extremely useful product for sealing projects is foam backer rod. Again, this has been on the market for years but I was completely unaware of it until my Dad told me about it. When you have a really large crack, getting caulk to span and effectively seal it can be difficult. Rather than waste expensive caulk, push backer rod in first. It fills the bulk of the void and you coat over it with the caulk. A great product!

There you have it. A range of alternatives to regular caulk for your sealing project consideration. Next time you need to seal a gap, why not try something new?