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Caulk is commonly used as a sealer to prevent air and water leaks around windows, molding, cabinets, bathtubs, and sinks. The primary features of caulk are its ability to stick to the surfaces you are using it on (adhesion) and to stay flexible so that it maintains a seal (elasticity). Caulk commonly comes in cartridges designed for caulk guns, but may also come in squeeze tubes much like toothpaste, and pressured cans like whipping cream.

There are half a dozen or more types of caulk, but the most common are:

  • Acrylic or latex caulk is basic caulk good for sealing intended to last up to a decade. Latex caulk is the least expensive generally available caulk, easy to apply, and cleans up with water.
  • Blends of latex and silicone improve on basic caulk with added durability. The results depend on the blend and the manufacturer.
  • Silicone caulk is the longest lasting, perhaps several decades, and it is extraordinarily good at maintaining a seal because it sheds water. Unfortunately, silicone caulks are so good at shedding that they are almost impossible to paint. Silicone caulk must set, so it may be the better part of a day before it looses its stickiness.

You may also find butyl rubber or oil based chalks when shopping for caulk. While there may be particular advantages to each, particularly price, these caulks have very limited lives of only a few years and can be messy to use and clean up.