What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sealing Drafts

Winter is just around the corner so it's time to increase the draft sealing efforts. While draft sealing should be an ongoing project year round, catching any new air leaks as they appear it is the quickly approach heating season that serves as a reminder to get sealing. For those considering adding more insulation, sealing drafts must be your first step. The nice thing about sealing drafts is the effects can be felt immediately!


Caulking is one of the most effective, low cost, DIY project you can do. Two tools are needed for applying caulk. A caulk gun is a must but this inexpensive tool (under $5) will provide many dependable years of service. A corner tool for smoothing the bead of caulk and forcing it a bit further into the crack is nice to have however, you can get the same results using your finger or popsicle stick.

Caulk should be applied to any joint where two differing surfaces meet such as wood and metal. It should also be applied to fill gaps between same materials such as wood window frame meeting wood window sill. It should not be used for filling cracks larger than ¼-inch. The key step is preparing for caulking is to remove any old caulk then clean and dry the surface. There seems to be a debate as to whether to push the caulk bead ahead verses pulling the caulk bead when applying. I say to use which ever method is comfortable for you. The important thing is the caulk filling the crack. There are different caulks for various applications so choose one that meets your needs.

By far my favourite caulk is Weathershield® 20 Year Duribility Acrylic caulk (1). This low odour caulk applies smoothly, cleans up with water, is paintable and remains flexible even in extreme cold temperatures. This multi-purpose caulk is ideal not only for giving that profession looking results when painting a room but also for stopping those drafts quickly and effectively. I like using Weathershield® 35+ Year Durability Silicone caulk in areas that may experience moisture problems. I've used it successfully to re-seal around where the window pane meets the frame which is often needed when dealing with older windows. This caulk is clear so barely noticeable but very effective. However, I really like using this caulk as a glue. A little dab works for this application. I use DAP® Polyurethane Waterproof Concrete Sealant (3) for sealing any exterior gaps, joints and cracks in the foundation. This masonry/concrete caulk is ideal for sealing around any wires or pipes entering through the foundation. Several years ago I discovered Lepage® Bulldog Grip® Draft-Stop® removable weather stripping (4). This is a temporary clear caulk that can be applied in the fall then removed in the spring making it ideal for sealing shut a leaky window during the winter. This is a good caulking solution for those who rent and for homeowners who need a quick, temporary solution until a more permanent solution can be found.

insulating foamInsulating Foam

By far my most favourite draft sealant is expandable, insultating spray foam. There are two versions with one meant for around window and door frames that doesn't expand as much. Some manufactures distinguish the two by calling one high expanding and the other low expanding that cures flexible. This is by far one of the most useful products you can use in an older home. I keep a couple of cans of this sealant on hand all the time. Unlike caulk it can be used to fill gaps greater than ¼-inch while adding insulating value. When applied the foam expands to fill the entire gap. Once it is cured the foam can be trimmed, sanded and painted. If used outdoors where the foam will be exposed to sunlight it must be painted as UV will cause the cured foam to break down. The downside to this sealant is that if the crack or hole is filled too full buckling can occur so it's better to use a bit less until you get the feel of how it expands.

Unlike caulk expandable spray foam can be quite messy to work with. From personal experience it does not come out of clothes so wear old clothes when using and protect any furniture or carpeting. I also find it is better to use the entire can at once so this becomes a project where several spots that need sealing are identified and tagged with post-it notes then when I have enough spots to use a full can I go back and do all the sealing. Once the foam cures, I trim it with an old serrated knife then finish as needed. If indoors in an area where the foam will not be seen it can be left as is if desired but trimming will reveal if any gaps are present that may need a bit more foam.

Garden Gnome