Sealants have been used to fill cracks and gaps in objects for hundreds of years. However, the modern silicone caulk we see in home improvement stores wasn’t invented until the 1920s.
This substance is useful for closing up joints and gaps in buildings; however, it is no longer the best tool for this purpose.
What Is Caulk?
Caulking refers to any impermeable substance used to fill seams or cracks. When applied correctly, it can be used to prevent water from penetrating through gaps and to also provide insulation.
Types Of Caulk
A large number of modern caulking compounds are made of silicon or latex. They are referred to as “water-based caulks” because they contain water as a primary ingredient.
These compounds are flexible and can be worked into the gap or crack you wish to fill, however, they do not last very long. You can expect to replace this form of caulk every five years.
There are also many non-water based caulks available. While most homeowners are familiar with water-based silicone caulks, the non-water variety are used primarily by commercial builders. They are favoured for their higher flexibility and fast drying time, but they are much harder to work with.
Non-water based caulks typically have to be mixed with mineral spirits or other solvents before they can be applied to joints and gaps.
How Is Caulk Applied?
Water-based caulks are usually sold in squeezable tubes or plastic containers that require the use of a “caulk gun” to push the compound out. Applying caulk can be a messy process, and is often difficult for first-timers to get right.
If you are using a caulk from a plastic tube container, you will need to fit it into your caulking gun and then cut off the tube’s nozzle tip at a 45 degree angle. This can be tricky because cutting off the tip where it is narrow will cause the tube to dispense only small beads.
Conversely, cutting the tip farther along the nozzle where it is wider will cause the tube to dispense large beads. If you cut a hole that is too wide, there is no way to undo it. This makes caulk guns difficult to work with.
Why Traditional Caulk Is Bad For Wooden Surfaces
Caulk is often applied to fill gaps in wooden surfaces, such as doors and windows. This compound is poorly suited for this purpose for many reasons.
Stripping Wood Fibres During Removal
Traditional caulk’s adhesive properties help it stick to wooden surfaces well. However, this can create problems in the future when you need to remove the caulk layer.
Removing caulk from any surface can be a tedious process. This compound needs to be softened or scraped with a knife for removal. However, stripping old caulk from wood can be especially challenging because it tends to grip the wood fibres with a lot of force.
Even if you manage to remove this compound from the surface of a door or window, it will strip wood fibres or pieces of wood along with it. This can leave these objects in much worse shape than before.
Traditional Caulk Can’t Be Painted On
If you own an old house with valuable aged natural wood, caulk is one of the worst compounds you can apply to it.
In addition to stripping wood fibres, silicone caulk can’t be painted on. Its material properties cause any paint applied to it to bead up and drop off before it can dry. So if you plan on repainting any wooden surfaces containing caulk, you will first need to strip it away, repaint the surface, and then apply another layer of caulk.
Are There Better Alternatives To Caulk?
Despite the many problems associated with caulk, it can do a fairly decent job at closing up gaps and preventing water from leaking through. If you want to use something that offers the advantages of caulk, but doesn’t feature its drawbacks, you should try using caulk tape.
This is a multipurpose tape that can be used as an alternative to traditional caulk.
Advantages Of Using Caulk Tape
Caulk tape offers many advantages over traditional caulk. This includes:
Faster Sealing Time
Traditional caulk can take up to 24 hours to set and dry. During this period, you won’t be able to expose it to water without ruining the seal. A caulk tape with a flexible vinyl edge trim does not suffer from this issue. To apply this tape, you simply need to peel back the liner covering the adhesive surface, and press the tape onto the joint or gap your wish to seal.
This tape doesn’t not need to be set, so it can be used immediately. This makes caulk tape useful in time-sensitive situations where the surface may be exposed to water.
Applying caulk to a surface tends to be a messy process. After all, it does behave as a semi-liquid substance before it sets. When you are applying this compound to a joint or a gap, it may smear and spread to other parts of the wood. If you don’t wipe up the excess caulk immediately, it will start to set and could create problems in the future.
This issue doesn’t exist with black caulk tape, as a flexible vinyl edge trim is a solid strip that stays confined to the areas where it is applied. This allows you to place a perfectly straight line of caulk with ease every time.
As mentioned earlier, traditional caulk has to be softened and stripped with a knife when it needs to be removed. This often results in the caulk coming off in small pieces, and many bits of silicone being left behind.
Removing caulk tape is far easier, as the whole strip comes off at once.
Anyone who has ever worked with traditional caulk before will tell you that it emits a strong like vinegar-like odour before it sets. If you apply this compound to a wooden door or window, this unpleasant odour may fill up your entire home.
Caulk strip doesn’t produce any odour when it is setting, which makes it perfect for last-minute applications.
If you are interested in finding a reliable caulk tape for your home, try the products from Instatrim.
Greg Amundson is the founder and creator of InstaTrim & have been working in the home construction industry for 30+ years and have always had a passion to make DIYers’ life easier by developing products like white peel and stick caulk, black caulk tape, grey PVC corner trim, which helps in filling gap between baseboard and floor etc.