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It is an extremely important preparatory step to use a good caulk to fill in cracks when painting, especially in exterior painting. Cracks allow bugs, molds and water to seep in causing water damage to the paint, as well as the walls. Caulks are resistant to various temperatures and extreme weather conditions. In addition, these sealants are environmentally friendly and lesson out of pocket expenditures on air conditioners and heaters due to overwork (air and heat enter and escape through unsealed cracks).

Since there is a large amount of varying brands and types of caulks how do you know which sealant to use? It may seem like a lot but there are really only four kinds that will fulfill your caulking needs.

  • Siliconized acrylic- great for most interior or exterior projects.
  • 100% silicone- not paintable; for non-porous surfaces (i.e. tiles).
  • Elastomeric- excellent; paintable; flexibile and adhesive.
  • Polyurethane- excellent anywhere; durable; difficult to use and requires solvents.

Latex sealant is not as durable as the prior four, and although it can be used outside, I would recommend using it mainly on interior projects. This is more decorative than it is protective and may not hold up quite as long. Latex caulk is less expensive but does tend to need replacing sooner.

Butyl is not recommended for several reasons. It is difficult to use, difficult to clean up, is very slow to dry, and tends to crack within a few years.

Caulks come in varying containers depending on how they will be used. Caulks are available in aerosol cans and tubes which are great for smaller jobs. You can also purchase cartridges to be placed in caulking guns (which I recommend for larger jobs). Make sure you read the label to ensure the best sealant for the job.

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