Helping Nebraskans enhance their lives through research-based education.

Weatherizing: Using Caulking

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

Click to email this page to a this page to a friend

Fall is just around the corner and it is time to think about preparing our homes for winter. Weatherizing a home is important to reduce energy waste. By caulking and/or weatherstripping one can usually recoup the cost in energy saving in one to two years.

Caulking is used to seal cracks and joints in the shell of the home. Weatherstripping reduces air infiltration around moving parts of the house.

Caulking compounds are used wherever two different materials or parts of the house meet. There are two types of compounds – water or solvent based. Choose the appropriate type of caulking compounds for the job. It may be necessary to use several types in your home. Caulking compounds include:

  • Oil or resin based - regular or contractor's caulk - exterior use only.
  • Butyl rubber - exterior use only.
  • Latex - exterior or interior use.
  • Silicones - interior and exterior use.
  • Urethanes - interior and exterior use.

Use caulking in these areas:


  • Around window and door frames.
  • Between the sill plate and foundation.
  • Along the sole plate of exterior walls.
  • Around faucets, pipes, wiring outlets or vents in exterior walls.
  • Joints between wallboard or paneling and the floor or ceiling on exterior walls.
  • Around water pipes, drains, bathtubs and other plumbing fixtures.


  • Around window and door frames.
  • Between two different siding materials.
  • Joints between foundation and siding.
  • Around skylights, vents and chimney flashing in the roof.
  • Around faucets, pipes, wiring, outlets or vents in exterior walls.

It is important compounds adhere to the materials to be caulked. Porous materials (like masonry and or cement) and metal require special types of caulking. Some compounds may require a primer. Check the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Measure around the door and window frames, siding joints, cracks, etc. to determine the amount of caulking needed. This will give you the linear footage. Caulkings are best applied when outdoor temperatures are between 50 and 70 degrees as this is when most building materials are at the mid-point of contraction and expansion. Before caulking, make sure the surfaces are clean, dry and grease-free. Old caulking must be completely removed, otherwise the new caulking may not adhere properly.

Practice with the caulking gun or tube before using it. For best results use a steady pressure and continuous movements.

Now is the time to check you home and prepare to do caulking and fall maintenance.

Ask Lorene

(This resource was added September 2007 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site:
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180