caulkingwindowIsn’t it funny how we each perceive situations differently depending on our circumstances?

One of the ways I ease out from a hectic schedule is watching classic movies on TCM or viewing reruns of only a very few favorite television series on Netflix. My absolute favorite is Breaking Bad.

Remember the episode where they “tent” a house, totally sealing it off to presumably fumigate it, while concealing the fact and noxious odor from the neighborhood that they’re cooking crystal meth? As I watched the episode just the other night, I was sitting by my bedroom window in a T-shirt and I was very aware that the late fall wind was kicking up outside, because I was very much feeling the draft inside.

Looking at the tented house on my iPad, and as the owner of an historic, drafty house, all I could think was, “Well, at least no drafts can get in there!”

Like the shoemaker who needs to mend his own shoes, The Home Guru needs to start thinking more seriously about caulking and its practical use on the exterior of my home, especially as the winter approaches.

Applying caulk to seal the cracks and openings in a home’s exterior helps keep the air you pay to heat and cool inside your home and the outside air out — and that can lower your utility bill.

It’s a good thing to take inventory of the condition of your caulking around all windows and doors of your home. Begin with a walk-around inspection of your home’s exterior. Make a list of cracks, gaps or holes – especially where different surfaces meet, or where pipes and vents penetrate the walls and roof.

If the old caulk is cracked or separated from the surrounding surface, these are the areas that are energy sieves. Every last bit of it needs to be removed with a scraper or putty knife. Then, the adjacent surfaces need to be cleaned and sanded smooth. If there are any areas where bare wood is showing, they need to be primed so that the new caulk adheres properly and creates a weather-tight seal.

I have always been confused about which type of caulk to buy because there are several on the shelves. The type people are most familiar with is silicone caulk but it is challenging to apply and needs to be cleaned up using a solvent which can become messy. Latex caulk is becoming more popular and because of its durability can last up to 20 years, and can be better painted over. Also there is a type of hybrid acrylic, latex and silicone caulk which is easier to apply.

I have never had any luck with the application guns. They always seem to get jammed up on me. I tend to go either for the ropes or the plain tubes where I apply a generous bead and then wet my finger with a sponge and run it the full length of the bead, using a slight amount of pressure. By “tooling” the caulk in this way, I ensure it adheres to the surrounding surface and tightly seals the space.

Mind you, it’s been some years since I did this little exercise and I did only my first floor windows and doors. I employed a handyman who was more adventuresome on a ladder than I am to do the second floor windows, and unless you’re more acrobatic than I, I suggest you might consider the same.

An incurable “history of things” buff, I couldn’t resist wanting to know how caulking came about and did a little research. The first use of a substance that can be considered caulk was pitch discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh on the island of Trinidad in 1498. He used it to seal his ships. Then, early Americans were sealing dugout canoes with amber or pitch. Later, in the 1500s, sealing wax was invented mainly to seal letters but was used also for canning.

The DAP Company, which had been producing sealing wax for food canning since the 1860s, starting producing putty and caulk in large quantities in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that caulk was introduced in disposable cartridges like the ones we see today. In 1964, the company developed latex caulk and then acrylic latex caulk. These were the advances that made caulk more pliable to work with and once hardened, easy to paint.

The point is, here is the perfect product to seal you into the comfort of a winter that is predicted to be a particularly cold one. So caulk now and stay warm in the months ahead.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (, specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is: and his blog is: To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076

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