How to Caulk Wood Windows

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Wood windows are attractive, durable and, if well maintained, will truly last a lifetime. Keeping them in working order should be a part of every homeowner's maintenance regimen as regular as replacing air filters in your heating and cooling system. A yearly inspection will reveal potential problems and allow you to assess the caulk and weatherstrip to ensure good insulation. With a little practice, you too can learn to maintain and caulk your own windows.

Things You'll Need

  • Detergent
  • Scraper
  • Caulk
  • Caulking gun

Assessing and Prepping the Window

  • Examine the window for signs of damage and wear. Make a note of any repairs that need to be made. Check caulking around the outside and inside of the window frame and the glazing around all glass panes. Re-caulk any window with cracked or chalky caulking or glaze. Wash the window and frame with detergent and warm water to remove any oil or dirt to allow the caulking to seal well.

  • Scrape around the outside frame and any joints that have loose or cracked caulking. Window panes in wood windows are not typically caulked. They are glazed with glazer's putty. Severe damage to glaze should be handled by a professional as it requires heat sources and sometimes open flame.
    You can patch slight to moderately checked or cracked putty with caulk as a maintenance measure. Severe damage needs prompt attention to avoid broken glass.

  • Choose the appropriate caulk. Caulk painted windows with latex painter's caulk, which will not repel paint. Caulk stained windows with colored silicone caulk in wood tones. Purchase either at a hardware store or home improvement center. For new windows caulk painted windows before finish is applied; apply caulk to stained windows after.

Caulking Your Wood Windows

  • Purchase a medium-grade caulking gun. The lightest ones are nothing but trouble. Use the nozzle cutter--located in front of the trigger--to cut an angle across the nozzle tube about the size of the gap you need to fill. Use the folding wire under the gun's barrel to puncture the seal by pushing it through the nozzle into the tube. Press the thumb button to release the plunger, and pull it back all the way. Drop the tube into the barrel, and push the plunger in. Squeeze the trigger until caulk rises in the tube.

  • Fill gaps on the outside frame first, working from top to bottom. Insert the nozzle into the gap. Squeeze the trigger steadily. Apply enough caulk to fill the gap and bead up slightly. Keep the caulking gun moving in a steady even motion. If caulking comes out too fast, depress the thumb button to relieve pressure. Simply release and pull the trigger to resume caulking. Work your way down the window to void dragging through fresh caulking.

  • Smooth caulk into the gap with a dampened finger. Repeat at the top, bottom sides and any other gaps or splits that are not meant to open. Don't forget to caulk against the brick or siding. For window panes use a siliconized latex glazing caulk. Apply a thin coat over chipped or cracked glazing, using slow even strokes, and smooth with a finger. Remove the excess from glass with a damp rag or ultrafine steel wool.

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