How to caulk windows / doors

Did you read that factoid about the average home having air leaks equivalent to leaving open a three sq. ft. window at all times? Yeah, we cringed, too. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide on how to caulk windows and doors.
 
 
 

What You'll Need

  • 1

    Gather tools

    You’ll need:
    • One of the products listed above
    • Utility knife for removing old caulk and opening the caulking tube
    • McKanica® Silicone Caulk Remover or similar product if silicone is present
    • Caulk gun
    • Painter’s tape (optional)
    • Beading tool, small foam brushes, or your trusty finger for tooling
    • Damp rags for clean-up
    • Some wicked caulking moves

  • 2

    Clean the surfaces

    You want your caulking job to stick and stretch for years to come, so make sure you clean the surfaces first. Remove old caulk, flaking paint, dust, pollen, mold, stray weatherstripping, etc. If silicone is present, use a silicone caulk remover.
     
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  • 3

    Apply the caulk

    A smooth hand is paramount here, so when in doubt, choose the elevator music over that 80s hair band album you’ve been stashing in your man cave. Apply the bead at least 1/4” wide to ensure there’s enough there to both stick to the joint and stretch with movement.
     
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  • 4

    Smooth (tool) the bead

    Use your finger, a beading tool or foam brushes to smooth the bead. This provides best adhesion and greater longevity. For a super-neat bead, outline the joint with blue painters tape before applying the caulk, then remove it before the caulk dries for a professional looking finish.

  • 5

    Clean up

    Use soapy water* or mineral spirits** to clean up tools and surfaces. Then, stand back and admire your DIY prowess on display.
     
    *for Big Stretch, Conceal and eXact color
    ** for Lexel
     
     

 Special Tip

Clean out those window frame weep holes before you start. They keep moisture away from the building, which prevents rot, mold and mushrooms from growing around your windows. You wouldn't want to have to reread this post on how to caulk your windows and doors, after all.