Caulk products serve a num- ber of functions around the home, but it all boils down to filling gaps. Whether you're filling joints between two materials for aesthetic reasons or you're filling gaps in your home to prevent air or water infiltration, the applica- tion of the product is usually done in the same way. Not all caulks are created equal, however, and you should pay attention to the properties of the product you purchase. These days, caulking products are made from a wide range of materials, includ- ing silicone, acrylic, siliconized acrylics, latex, co-polymers and more. The easiest and fastest way to achieve a nice, crisp caulk line is to stop by the hardware store, pur- chase the cheapest acrylic caulk on the shelf, and lay the bead. These cheap caulks are easy to shape and easy to clean up (not sticky like silicone). In practically no time you can fill that crown molding joint and take a photo of your beautiful work. And it's a good thing you'll have that photo to remember it by, because within a year the caulk bead will likely dry out, shrink and develop unsightly cracks. The problem lies in the cheap caulk's inability to stretch coupled with the the surrounding materi- al’s tendency to expand and con- tract with moisture and tempera- ture changes. The crown molding moves, the caulk doesn't, so the bead cracks, looks ugly, and you have to re-caulk it within a year. To avoid this, choose a better caulk product. Rather than com- mitting to memory the various By Tom Matthews
Filling the Gaps Pro Tips for Caulk/Sealant Success
Elastomeric properties that allow the caulk to stretch and flex will help ensure the bead doesn't crack over time. Big Stretch is a water-based caulk/sealant that will stretch more than five times its original size.