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How to Replace Caulking Around Windows

Last modified: 2022-06-09 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Did you know that 25% of your home's heat loss is due to faulty caulking resulting in outside air seeping in? Therefore, properly caulking your home is an essential part of protecting your health and that of your family, and reducing your electric bill.

It can be easy to neglect your window caulking upkeep by thinking you do not have the necessary skills to undertake such a project. However, it is such an easy thing to do!

Why is replacing your old window caulking so important? And, how are you to know that you are doing it the right way? Keep reading to find out!

Why Re-Caulking Is Important

First of all, windows that have not been properly caulked will allow for water to seep in through the gap between the window and the siding, and will eventually lead to its deterioration.

Furthermore, during the winter, cold air will seep into your home if your windows are improperly caulked, which will then result in an expensive heating bill. And, the condensation created from the air seeping in will lead to premature degradation of the windows and window frames. 

The caulking should absolutely be redone or replaced when it has become obviously dry or no longer fully encompasses the cavity between the siding and the window.

4 Essential Steps to Caulk a Window

white window_How to Replace Caulking Around Windows_Reno Quotes

Photo: Unsplash

1. Proceed with a Visual Analysis

The importance of adequately caulking your home lies in the fact that it will act as a sealant between the joints of the house, as well as prevent water, cold and warm air, and potentially harmful elements from infiltrating. A properly done caulking will prevent humidity from seeping through the insulation and the whole of the home. 

The first step would be to proceed with a detailed visual analysis to detect any air seeping in from the windows. A good way to find out if your windows are allowing outside air to penetrate is to be on the lookout for spider webs, as insects have a tendency to build their webs in areas with open airflow. 

2. Remove Old Caulking and Prep Surface

The already present caulking will have to be removed in its entirety. Since the caulking will most likely be dry, it is best to soften it beforehand in order to work without too many difficulties. To do so, use a heat or soldering gun, and run it back and forth along a short section of the caulking. Proceed cautiously as this step should be done without haste in order to avoid damaging the paint around the window frame. 

Then, with the help of a knife with a retractable sheath, you should be able to slowly peel back the caulking in order to remove it. Once all the caulking has been removed, clean the surface with a cloth that has been dipped in lighter fluid to ensure the surface has been rid of any caulking residue. Vacuum in between the window frame and the window to remove any particles that might have fallen or gotten stuck in the gap. Also, make sure that the surface is entirely clean and devoid of any dust or paint chips. 

caulking gun_How to Replace Caulking Around Windows_Reno Quotes

Photo: Flickr

Before caulking, insert foam tapes in the gaps should the space be greater than ¼ inch. The foam will ensure that the gaps are fully sealed, as well as provide additional cushioning for the caulk. If your window gaps are very wide, insert a filler material such as expanding foam or adhesive strips.

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3. Caulk Window 

Position the caulking gun at a right angle along the gap line. To ensure a smooth finish, gently squeeze the trigger and limit to a minimum any interruptions in the caulking process.

Should you experience any difficulties in properly filling in the gaps, use a small disposable stick to push in the paste to properly fill the space. Make sure the gaps are filled on both sides and do remember to add more paste if needed. When completed, gently release the trigger to avoid any spillage.

4. Smooth Silicone Caulk

To ensure a smooth, high-quality sealant, use a spatula made especially for this type of work (or a small stick dipped in an antiadhesive) to remove any excess product. Note that the ideal seal should be 12 millimetres thick and form a 45-degree angle. At this stage, be meticulous to ensure that you remove any small protrusions, as these have the double disadvantage of being, aesthetically speaking, an eye-sore and a cause of dust accumulation.

An alternative method is to use a water-based or silicone caulking compound. By doing so, you can just dip your fingers in a bowl of soapy water before running them over the paste, to smooth the sealant. The soap coating your fingers will prevent the paste from sticking to your skin.

window caulking_How to Replace Caulking Around Windows_Reno Quotes

Effective Window Caulking Tips

  • Apply just the right amount of sealant—no more than is necessary. A common error is to cut the nozzle too low, which creates too large an opening to dispense the sealant;
  • Should this be your first experience with caulking and you are concerned about using too much product, use masking tape around the edges to make sure the lines are perfectly clean and straight;
  • To guarantee the maximum longevity of the sealant, choose a caulking product with a 30-year warranty;
  • Opt for a good quality product, as low-cost caulk can be difficult to apply and have limited durability;
  • Aim to work in temperatures between 8 and 25 degrees Celsius, as this will prevent the caulk from drying too quickly;
  • If you suspect air infiltration through the window mouldings, you should consider removing all the mouldings one by one and injecting polyurethane foam around the frame. The foam will need a few hours to expand and fill the entire space.

Cover Photo: Pixabay

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