Texas Living

Does your home pass the dollar bill test?

By Lisa Martin 5.13.13

Saving energy. Preventing water damage. Improving appearance.

These are three reasons to caulk inside and out of your house at least twice a year.

“It’s important for homeowners to consider this cost-saving efficiency project as part of their overall home renovation plans,” says RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly.

Still not convinced? Do the dollar bill test: Place a bill between the doorjamb or between the window sash and sill. With the door or window closed, try to remove the dollar bill. If it slides out easily, you are losing energy or giving pests a gateway into your place.

Caulking Indoors

“Give your bathroom a clean, fresh look by caulking the sink, toilet, and shower/tub,” says Carey Evans, a designer who appears on HGTV’s Don’t Sweat It. “It’s important to use silicone caulk because it is not water based, so there is minimal shrinking or cracking.”

The kitchen sink could stand new caulk, too. Just make sure to remove the old stuff first as it’s a magnet for mildew and mold.

Caulking around interior windows and doors using either an acrylic or silicone product can help lower your energy bills as well.

Caulk Outdoors

After caulking the exterior windows, doors, and siding, don’t neglect your driveway.

“There’s an unfair stigma that repairing concrete is a lot of work, but it’s actually not difficult,” says Bob Schmidt, national product manager for Sakrete. “If you can use a caulk gun, you can repair your cracked concrete.

The Best Way to Caulk

To caulk like a pro, the makers of GE Silicone caulk offer the following steps.

  1. Clean the Surface: Remove old caulk, dirt, and loose particles with a caulk-removing tool, or a wire brush for concrete and masonry applications, and wipe clean with a cloth.
  2. Prepare the Tube and Seal: Cut the nozzle to desired bead size. If using a caulk gun, squeeze with even, consistent pressure to control the rate at which the caulk leaves the tube.
  3. Smooth the Caulk Seal: 
Use your finger or a wet caulk-smoothing tool within two to five minutes of application.
  4. Store the Tube and Clean: Squeeze the caulk until it’s barely coming out of the tube. Replace the cap, or use a nail in the tube opening.