Mind The Gap – Easy Caulking Projects To Save Energy And Money With GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk

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paintable silicone caulk

What's This?This post is sponsored by The GE. When we first moved to our 120-year-old house in Pennsylvania, we thought it was funny watching the curtains dance around in front of the drafty old windows. Until we got our first couple of gas bills, anyhow… Over the years, we slowly replaced every window in the house. It’s still amazing how often we feel a draft, though, when we stroll past some of those windows, or spend a little quality time in the basement. Even small gaps and cracks in trim can let an amazing amount of frigid air in – and your expensive heated air out. Filling those gaps with a bead of good quality caulk is a fast, inexpensive way to keep the warm air where you want it – and more of your money in your wallet. With the cold weather getting underway, now is the perfect time to fill in those gaps with a bead of GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk. We’ll show you the simple tools and techniques you need to beat the draft.

Paintable Silicone Caulk
‘Tis the season for frigid breezin’…

Take A Pre-Caulk Walk

Before you head out for your caulk and other supplies, take a walk around the perimeter of your house, inside and out. Look for cracks and gaps around the window and door trim, as well as the area where the baseboards meet the wall and shoe molding. Any place pipes or wires come through the wall is another potential air – and even worse, water – entry point.

Paintable Silicone Caulk
Hmmm…any chance air could be getting in here?!

Make a rough guess how many lineal feet of gaps you need to deal with, adding a bit for waste. Using a 3/16” bead, a 10.1 oz. tube of GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk will cover about 49 lineal feet. Your best bet is to err on the side of getting too many; once you get started, you’ll be amazed at how many gaps you didn’t notice on your first go-round. Just keep the receipt, and you can return any unopened tubes, which is way less aggravating than running out when you’re almost finished. Ask me how I know.

paintable silicone caulk
Here a gap, there a gap…
paintable silicone caulk
Everywhere a breezy gap.

Tools And Supplies For Your Caulking Project

Luckily for the budget, there are very few tools needed to apply GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk, or any other caulk. Really, the only mandatory item is a caulk gun. You might be tempted to go cheap, and get a stamped metal gun. Our advice? Spend a few dollars more, and you’ll get a much higher-quality gun, with better leverage, smoother application, and extra features like a built-in tip cutter and tube poker.

Paintable Silicone Caulk
Spending a few dollars more gets you a beefier gun, with a tip cutter…
Paintable Silicone Caulk
And a built-in tube poker to break the seal.

Other items you’ll probably want to have on hand? A utility knife, for cutting the tip off the tube, if your caulk gun doesn’t have a good sharp one. Also, for caulks like GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk that aren’t water based, you’ll need mineral spirits to do any cleanup. A pair of disposable nitrile gloves will save time – and a handful of mineral spirits – when cleanup time rolls around.

paintable silicone caulk
A cheap pair of nitrile gloves helps maintain your manicure…

For smoothing the caulk after laying down the bead, most people just use their index finger. If you use a nitrile glove, or even a bare finger, dipping it in mineral spirits will help the caulk smooth out nicely. If you prefer, there are inexpensive caulk-finishing tools available to preserve your dainty digits.

If you have BIG gaps to fill – larger than ¼” – pick up some backer rod. It will fill much of the gap, and give your bead of caulk a good surface to adhere to. It’s available at most home centers and hardware stores. Buy it a bit wider than your gap, as it will compress when you push it in.

paintable silicone caulk
Backer rod helps fill those Grand-Canyon sized gaps before caulking.

Why Use A Paintable Silicone Caulk / Sealant?

That just leaves the caulk. It used to be if you wanted a paintable caulk, your choices were latex or acrylic. The addition of GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk to the mix lets you get the same paintability as acrylic, along with the flexibility and permanent waterproof features of pure silicone.

Another important feature of GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk is its resistance to mold and mildew growth, which is especially important when the caulk is used outdoors, or in moisture-prone areas like kitchens, bathrooms and basements.

paintable silicone caulk
This north-facing wall has water AND mildew problems…

Our project house had several problem areas to deal with, both indoors and out. In addition to numerous gaps and cracks around the baseboards and windows, we had areas outside where previous caulk jobs had failed. Since all of the problem areas were painted, having a paintable caulk was a primary consideration. With temperatures varying from zero to over 90 degrees in our area, it was also important to have a caulk that could expand and contract to roll with Mother Nature’s punches.

Here’s the full list of specs and features from GE, followed by a short promo video:

• Ideal for a wide range of interior and exterior weatherproofing sealing projects from the attic to the basement such as windows, doors, siding, trim, and around vents, wire and pipes
• Permanently flexible to keep gaps sealed, shrink-proof and crack-proof
• GE Paintable Silicone is 100% waterproof
• Adheres to most wood, metal, vinyl siding, drywall, plaster, masonry, stucco, glass, laminate, ceramic tile and plastic
• 0-minute paint-ready, spray paint immediately
• 30-minute water and rain exposure
• Exceeds ASTM C920 Class 25 specifications
• Combines silicone’s excellent adhesion and durability with the paintability of acrylic
• 10-year mold-free product protection is resistant to stain-causing mold and mildew growth

Prepare To Get Caulky

Once you’ve tracked the cracks and fetched your supplies, there’s one more task before you pull the trigger: Surface prep. No matter how good your caulk is, it won’t adhere well to dirty, oily or wet surfaces, or areas with flaking paint or old caulk.

paintable silicone caulk
Surface prep is Job One. Clean off all oil and dirt…

Scrape away any loose or flaking paint, and dig out any old caulk. Clean the surface well with mineral spirits, or a TSP mixture, making sure any residue is cleaned off, and let the surface dry completely before you start caulking. It’s a good idea to put a coat of primer paint on any areas with bare wood, before applying your caulk.

paintable silicone caulk
Strip away any old caulking…
paintable silicone caulk
And scrape any loose paint and other debris.

If you’ll be applying caulk to your home’s exterior, check the caulk’s instructions for temperature restrictions. According to the label, GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk can be applied in temps ranging from 40 to 120 degrees. For my project, in late November, I wasn’t worried too much about the upper end of the range; on the day I did the exterior, temps were in the upper 40’s.

Enough Talking, Let’s Get Caulking!

Once your surfaces are clean and prepped, the worst is over, and it’s finally time to pull the trigger! Some tubes of caulk, including GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk, have a cap over the end of the tip. Pop it off, and get ready to cut off the tip. The further from the tip you cut, the wider your opening will be; if you have gaps of different widths, make your cut near the end, to start out with a nice, narrow bead. You can always cut a bit more off, but you can’t put it back on. Use your caulk gun’s tip cutter, if it has one, or a utility knife. Cut the tip straight across, rather than at an angle; it works just as well for applying the caulk, and it’s less fussy to work with.

paintable silicone caulk
Cutting the tip off the GE Paintable Silicone Caulk. Start near the end.

After the tip is cut off, you’ll need to poke through the inner seal at the top of the tube. Some caulk guns have a built-in poker; if yours doesn’t, a long nail or a piece of a wire coat hanger will do the trick.

paintable silicone caulk
Poke through the inner seal.

Pull the caulk gun’s plunger all the way to the rear, insert the tube into the caulk gun, and snug up the plunger by slowly squeezing the trigger. Have a paper towel or rag ready, and squeeze until the caulk just begins to come out of the tip. Let go of the trigger, and on many caulk guns, you’ll also have to push on the pressure-relief lever to stop the trickle of caulk.

paintable silicone caulk
To stop the flow of caulk, push the pressure-relief lever.

Pick a starting point at the end of one of your gaps, and place the tip of the caulk tube into it. Although it may seem intuitive to pull the gun toward you, you’re more likely to get full contact by pushing the gun ahead, with the tip angled away from you very slightly. Go slowly, and apply light but steady pressure. You’ll quickly get the hang of just how much pressure to apply. Keep the gun moving, and as soon as you reach the end of the gap, release the trigger and immediately push the pressure-relief lever.

paintable silicone caulk
A slow and steady pushing motion is the best way to fill those gaps…

If you have to stop caulking in the middle of a run, you’ll be less likely to end up with a big glob of caulk by starting again from the other end of the gap and working back toward your stopping point. Don’t worry if it’s not too pretty when you finish; you can easily smooth it out.

paintable silicone caulk
If you stop partway through, start again from the opposite end.

After the entire gap is filled, check for any spots you missed, and give them an extra dab as needed. If you’re using GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk or another non-latex caulk, dip your finger into a bit of mineral spirits, and run your finger smoothly along your freshly-caulked surface. Again, an inexpensive pair of disposable nitrile gloves will make for happier fingers.

paintable silicone caulk
A wet finger smooths the caulk perfectly…

Some Final Caulk Talk And Thoughts On GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk

And that’s it – on to the next gap! Do all the narrower gaps first, then re-cut the tip when you’re ready to attack the bigger air-leaking cracks. For really large gaps – wider than ¼” – push in a piece of backer rod slightly wider than the gap before caulking. Looking for more info on caulk, or tips on caulking projects? Check out GE’s “How to Apply Interior Sealants” video on YouTube.

paintable silicone caulk
All sealed up down here…

I found the GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk very easy to work with. It flowed smoothly, was easy to “tool” with my gloved finger, and it adhered very well to every surface I used it on – even our weathered wood and aluminum window flashing on a cold day. Given its flexibility and 100% waterproof qualities, I anticipate the exterior portion of this caulk job in particular will fare much better than the previous effort, which failed miserably.

If you’re a fan of instant gratification, you’ll like the fact that if you’re planning to paint, you can do so immediately with spray paint, or after only 30 minutes with a brush. Even more importantly, GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk is rain-ready in only 30 minutes, so even with only a minor break in the weather, you can get things tightened up. This was especially useful in our situation, as it rained – and then snowed – a few hours after the caulking was completed.

paintable silicone caulk
With only a brief break in the weather, 30 minute paintability was key.

On our project, I actually set a timer, and sure enough, the GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk was skinned over and ready for paint after 30 minutes. I put a coat of good primer on it, and it’s now ready for a final coat – as soon as the weather cooperates. Temps since we completed the caulking have stayed in the 30’s or below, but the massive gap is sealed and looking good. And best of all – no more Arctic breezes when we walk past the windows.

paintable silicone caulk
Wind and rain just lost their all-access pass…

If you’d like to save some energy and money – and not have to don a windbreaker when you walk past your windows and doors – introduce your gaps to a tube of GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk. GE guarantees it for as long as you own your home, with a 10-year guarantee against mold and mildew. GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk is available at most home centers and major hardware stores.

paintable silicone caulk

Buy GE Supreme Paintable Silicone Caulk from the Home Depot:

Buy Now - via Home Depot

HDX caulk gun from the Home Depot:

Buy Now - via Home Depot

More Info - via GESealants.com

More Info - via CaulkYourHome.com

I have partnered with the manufacturer of GE-branded sealants and adhesives to bring you this post, and have been compensated for my honest opinions. 10-year mold-free product protection: Cured sealant is resistant to stain causing mold and mildew. Regular cleaning of the cured sealant is required, however, as soap and other residue can cause secondary mold and mildew growth. GE is a registered trademark of General Electric Company and is used under license by Momentive Performance Materials Inc. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Haven Home. The opinions and text are all mine.

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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