Caulking – What should and should never be caulked

Caulking – This page is intended to be a supplement to your estimate document.

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Caulking is a sealant that fills gaps, cracks, nail holes, and similar imperfections on the surface.  In other words, caulking is applied where moisture would otherwise penetrate and cause deterioration.  In this article, we will go over typically caulked areas on the exterior typical Northwest style homes, and also areas that should never be sealed.

Related article:  What type of caulking and what color

painting contractors on the eastsdie of seattleWhat must be caulked

(Jump to “what should never be caulked” section)

Caulking Corners

This is a must do for all houses.  Moisture likes to hide in corners, edges, and under ledges.  We can use quality sealants to prevent it from penetrating and causing any damage to the structure.
caulking siding

Butt-joints….but not all Butt-joints

Where two pieces of siding meet.  Should they always be caulked?  The answer depends on the manufacturer, and installation method used when the siding was first installed.     NOTE: Generally, we do not recommend caulking butt-joints on cedar siding.  Natural siding boards are designed to expand and contract with the elements and we do not want any adhesive to prevent their natural movement.  We only caulk butt-joints on cedar siding if previously caulked.  Fiber cement boards are caulked only when there is no metal flashing behind them.  Some manufacturers do not require the metal flashing, therefore, we caulk the butt joint to keep the pieces together and also prevent moisture.

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Trim boards & Wood Windows

Pretty much all trim joints need to be sealed.  This is again to prevent moisture from penetrating into the crack/joint, but it also adds to the overall appearance of the surface.

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caulking garage door casing

 

window glazing

 

 Garage door trim – but never any part of the garage door itself

While a DIYer or a novice painter might attempt to produce a cleaner look by sealing all gaps on a wood garage door, garage door panels are designed to move.  The panels on your garage door require room for free-play.  Caulking them is a mistake and the caulking is likely to fail prematurely.

caulking garage door trim

 

 

Imperfections on the Siding

Gaps, cracks, failed knots, etc.  Anything that might one day allow moisture to penetrate will be sealed.

 

cedar siding caulking
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What should never be caulked!

Trim boards that sit on top the siding.

In the old days, the builder would install the trim,  bring the siding up to it, and caulk the corner.  On most new homes, the trim goes up after the siding is installed, which creates a large gap that should not be caulked.  We need air circulation behind these boards and the opening acts as a water exit, should water ever go behind the boards.

caulking corner boards

 

 

Window weep hole should not be caulked 

window weep hole caulking

Designed to let water out of your windows, these small openings should never be sealed.

 

 

 

 

Garage door panels should not be caulked 

While a DIYer or a novice painter might attempt to produce a cleaner look by sealing all gaps on a wood garage door, garage door panels are designed to move.  The panels on your garage door require room for free-play.  Caulking them is a mistake and the caulking is likely to fail prematurely. 
garage doors siding color

 

Bottom of siding boards should not be caulked 

Water is meant to exit through the bottom of each board.  While paint does tend to somewhat glue these pieces together, caulking them is never advised and can cause permanent damage.  Also, avoid caulking tongue-and-groove siding boards together.

caulking siding pieces

 

Metal Flashing (or any metal to wood joint) should not be caulked 

Another water exit pathway that should never be sealed.

ulking metal flashing should paint metal flashing

 

Siding nails should not be caulked 

Another item that needs room to play is siding boards themselves.  the nails holding up the siding should not be caulked.  A DIYer or a novice painter might attempt to achieve a cleaner look by caulking the siding nails, but the nail is guaranteed to push the caulking material out within a few months.

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Question:  is the old caulking removed before new coats are applied?  Answer: similar to paint, previous coats of caulking are removed when they have failed and are chipping or peeling off the surface.  Unlike the caulking around your bathtub or kitchen sink, exterior caulking is not meant to ever come off.  It is not possible to remove it without damaging the surface.  Very much like coats of paint, fresh coats of caulking are formulated to be applied to previous coats and use the previous coat for additional adhesion.

Related:

Caulking available in different colors


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Elegant Painting®

11717 NE 144TH PL
KIRKLAND, WA98034

Phone:(425) 242-4646

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