Caulking application techniques & prevenative maintainence for exterior shell protection of residential dwellings

20121016-183117.jpgGreat caulk lines can be difficult to achieve for most homeowners, however, with a little bit of help & guidance from Andruszko Painting, you will be able to see the perfection of your work come to fruition in no time.

How can I apply a professional looking caulk line on my own house? When I observe painting contractors in Portland working on an exterior siding or painting project, I wonder to myself; if they can do it, why can’t I do the same thing they do with my largest investment, my house?

Maintaining the exterior shell & interior shell of your home is a top priority for all homeowners because you simply cannot afford to ignore encapsulating & properly sealing the exterior of your home. The CCB (Construction Contractors Board) of Oregon, states in the mandatory continuing education training that a licensed contractor must be aware of these code revisions in order to possess & maintain an active license in Oregon. Contractors have to know about the updated codes related to exterior shell practices passed in the ORS revised statutes code that is passed by the Oregon State Legislature.

This is important to homeowners because of the risk of not attending to your home on a bi-yearly basis can cost you thousands of dollars in unnecessary repair bills. When water infiltration occurs within the exterior shell of your home, you will encounter the following problems: Dry rot of stick framing, rake fascia/barge boards, exterior trim, corner molding, siding, & 8 x 4 sub-sheeting plywood. For example, lets say that your house is exposed to the constantly changing elements of Portland, Oregon weather & during the course of time your roof leaks; you will encounter water infiltration if your house is not correctly sealed with the right exterior caulking product or exterior paint. Other results that can occur include but are not limited to: damaged drywall on your ceilings, walls. flooring & or sub-floor sheeting.

Preparations & Supplies:
Caulk gun, caulking, a brush that you can use as a duster for the areas that you are caulking, 3-5 wet rags & 3 dry rags, 1 single paint gallon sized clean bucket of water with a handle & a pot hook to hang onto your lightweight ladder workstation & 1- 5 gallon bucket, latex gloves or the standard Home Depot work gloves that are a cloth & rubber mix.

Set up a 5 gallon bucket of water to refill your small gallon sized bucket of water. Change out your water when it is murky & diluted with excess caulking from cleaning your rags. If your caulking gun gets caught up on a larger piece of texture, nail, or obstacle, gently release the trigger and readjust your caulking application stance & composure, start off where you left off & join the old with the new to create a solid continuous line.

Refining your application techniques:

How do I perfect my technique of laying down a nice caulk line? Andruszko Painting suggests you perfect your technique through patient observation & actively moving your line of sight ahead of the bead of caulking that you’re laying out within the gap that you are attempting to seal up. Laying out a nice line is all about keeping your eyes focused on the line that you’re attempting to lay out with your gun and the application of steady pressure on the caulking gun trigger, swipe the caulk line with your finger & or rag with even pressure all the way down in order to produce a professional looking caulk line.

Depending upon how thick the gap is that you are sealing the amount of caulk you release with each trigger pull will dictate & correlate with how fast you are able to apply the product to your substrates. Your finished product greatly depends on these 5 factors: Speed, pressure, line of sight, & efficency & ease of application. Be aware & cognizant of how much pressure you put on the caulking gun trigger.

Industry Standards:
Caulking manufacturers recommend that you do not caulk gaps wider than ½” wide, however I’ve seen unlicensed contractors try to caulk gaps as wide as 2” wid on hardie plank siding. A normal “caulking run” consists of one constant trigger pull that spans the length of about 2′-4′ upon the gap that you are applying caulk upon. The finished product is produced at a quicker rate of effort if you use a dripless caulk gun. If you are not using a dripless gun you will have product that will dispense from the gun after even after you
have completely disengaged the gun trigger. A dripless gun prevents this from occuring while you are run your finger down your lines ensuring an even & smooth caulking line. The best caulking gun our company has used is the plastic, black & yellow caulking gun that is available at any local Sherwin Williams retail paint store.


Watch the bead of caulk closely as you start your caulk line, keep constant pressure on your trigger and follow through on the entire length of your caulk line; try not to stop (if possible) 1/2 way or 3/4′s of the way down the entire breadth of each individual “caulking run.” Slide your finger over the caulk line in the same direction, vertically or horizontally, do not use your finger in opposite directions on the same caulk line, either swipe vertically or horizontally & in the same direction otherwise you will have an imperfect run & uneven line. There is a certain finess that you must perfect as you practice your techniques, feel the rhythm & just flow, repeat, perfect, & practice until you are confident in your craftsmanship & finished product.

Product Recommendations:

Exterior Caulking-
Stores: Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, Lowes
Types: Quad white is paintable & will contract & expand with our diverse NW weather; Andruszko Painting highly recommends Quad & Sonolastic. Sonolastic is a really good exterior all purpose caulking. Vulkem is textured & is a great exterior product. Miller-Big Stretch flexes & performs well on exterior substrates. Get familiar with these products & see what works best for your individual situation.
Clean up: Painters hand cleaner can all be found at the aforementioned listed stores, mineral spirits or thinner. This is some of the stickiest caulking on the market it will be very difficult to get off of your fingers. Wear latex blue gloves & change them out frequently when you have to much build-up from your swiping technique.

Interior Caulking:
Stores: Sherwin, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware & your local hardware store
Types: Sherwin Williams 55 year int./ext. caulking- blue & white tube, Dap 25-50 year green or blue tubes. Andruszko Painting recommends these two caulking for interior application.
Clean up: Painter’s hand cleaner.

If you have weatherization & exterior/interior shell issues or draft problems, please contact Andruszko Painting in Beaverton, OR for a free estimate.

Bobby Andruszko
General Contractor
CCB # 186124
Established 03/09
3rd Generation Oregon Contractor
Licensed, bonded & Insured

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