Having new windows installed? Plan on re-caulking the seals around your bathtub? Putting in a new kitchen sink? Then here’s what you should know about caulk before you go shopping at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s home improvement store.
1. Mistakes with using chalk don’t always show up right away. Shortly after the window installers finished putting in the windows, I did my inspection. Their work seemed flawless, right down to the caulking job they did. The next day, though, my husband pointed out several areas that needed repairing. If caulk is not applied slowly and steadily, then the chances are good that it will sink or bubble.
2. Not all caulks do the same job. There are different types of caulks for various areas around the house. Silicone based caulk is very durable. The silicone allows for expansion and contraction. It is well suited for caulking around the tub or in the shower.
Latex based caulk, also known as painter’s caulk, can be used to fill in holes and gaps prior to painting. It is an inexpensive caulk that holds paint well and is relatively easy to apply in those smooth beads that are desired by caulk users.
Some caulks are a blend of both silicone and latex. This type of caulk blends the best qualities of each one, providing you with durability and the ability to paint over the caulk. Caulks that have a mix of silicone and latex are a popular choice among home improvement workers.
Another caulk you will find in home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot is called tub and tile caulk. This caulk has an acrylic sealant that is both flexible and waterproof. Use this type of caulk to prevent mildew from taking over later on.
3. Some caulks are cancerous. Up until the late 1970s, PCBs (formally known as polychlorinated biphenyls) were used in caulks. Safe removal of caulk laden with PCBs is highly recommended, as PCBs are a carcinogen. Proper disposal is a must under federal law. Asbestos was an ingredient in caulks up until 1981. Cancer and lung disease can result if you are exposed to asbestos dust, so precautions should be taken when removing caulk. At the minimum, wear a painter’s mask and durable gloves when removing old caulk.
Even today, some caulks may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are dangerous to our health. It is important to minimize potential damage to your health and your family’s health. While caulk is drying inside the house, ventilate the area well. Make sure there is a cross breeze of fresh air. Also keep in mind that caulk can take up to one full week to completely dry.
There are environmentally safe caulks on the market. Check out an online home improvement store like www.environmentalhomecenter.com to buy caulks that are safe for you and your family’s health.