Sunday, June 14, 2009


Now that the window frame is open and easy to get to from inside, I thought it would be appropriate to fix it up a little, which brings us to caulking.

Did I hear somebody ask why caulk?

Here's a shot of the daylight between that very frame and the wall it's installed in. I removed the trim on the left side of the window just so I could see the structure here; there's nothing to insulate, but that crack is ... well, today it's 80° and sunny, and I can remove an entire window and think nothing of it. But come January, when it's -10°F and the wind is whistling through that crack, well, the term "unheatable" comes to mind. The carriage house is actually pretty heatable -- except for its, you know, lack of windows, but this is just a warmup for the big house.

So I bought "Ultimate Hybrid Sealant and Adhesive", a vinyl-based caulk. Says it's UV-resistant and can adhere even to wet surfaces, and it has a convenient cap on the tip, so I figured, let's give it a shot. I've done a lot of caulking, but it actually appears as though I've never done it right. I say this because in the instructions for installing this window, I saw the term "tool the caulk". Those of you who have actual non-hilljack building experience will laugh at this point, but ... I just never considered that it might be necessary to work the caulk after squirting it out of the tube. It's logical, now that I've thought about it; caulk is thick stuff (this vinyl caulk is exactly like lanolin; those of you who have had babies will know what I mean) and it doesn't really go into the crack very well unless you push it in by force.

So, lacking a better alternative, I did a test run, and used my finger to tool the caulk. It wasn't easy, and it looks pretty amateur. I mean, it's functional, and it'll keep the air out, and from the ground it looks fine, and especially once I paint the wooden frame it'll be nearly unnoticeable to anybody but me, but I know it could be prettier.

So ... back to Google. And here I found some chatter with people who have some experience. Turns out they use their fingers, too. I'm reassured. But ... they also use masking tape to get an edge! Another suggestion is to use a plastic spoon dipped in mineral spirits, for vinyl caulk, because it's quite sticky (which I noticed) and thus hard to tool without smearing it all over.

I don't have mineral spirits (I know I bought some, but I must have left it in the Lowe's cart or something, because it sure didn't make it inside), but I do have masking tape.

So for today's caulking, I'm ready. Here's the tape in place. Now I'm going to do some paying work, then do some more caulking. Finally, I'll end the day with more plumbing (the hot water here in the carriage house still hasn't been replaced) and maybe I'll mop some more ceilings. I'm almost done with the kitchen. It'll still need paint, but at least I'll know there's no grime under the paint. Not under my coat, anyway.

Update: Hmm. I hear thunder, so perhaps there will be no caulking today after all.


  1. When I volunteered for Habitat, I did a lot of caulking. We were told to use our fingers, which got very sore from all the walls and shelves. Caulking guns are so much fun to play with.

  2. If your caulk is water-based and thus less virulently sticky than what I'm using, that would work better, according to my research. I wasted a lot of caulk (well, not a lot) and still didn't get a result I liked. The masking tape will help, though.

  3. caulk is thick stuff ... and it doesn't really go into the crack very well unless you push it in by force.

    tee hee hee.

    (here from making light. & not twelve, actually. cough.)

  4. Oh, hey, miriam, glad you could make it! And, you know, raise the level of discourse and all. Har, har.