By Gene and Katie Hamilton
It's a simple fact: To stop cold air from entering your house or warm air from escaping, caulk the windows. It's one of the best bangs for your buck to conserve energy because it is easy to do and the material and tools are inexpensive. All you need is a cartridge of good quality caulk and a metal caulk gun to apply it.
Once you use a caulk gun a few times, it's easy to operate, but it can look intimidating at first. You put the cartridge into the gun, puncture the caulk tube with a utility knife or nail, pull the trigger of the gun and caulk squeezes out of the tube nozzle. The flow of caulk stops when you stop squeezing the trigger. You won't find a better do-it-yourself project for a beginner than this one because you’ll learn an on-the-job skill you’ll use many times in your life as a homeowner.
A handyman will charge $302 to caulk six average size double-hung windows, which includes the labor and material. You can do the job for $65, the cost of a caulk gun and 12 cartridges of caulk. You'll need a ladder to reach windows on the first floor and an extension ladder for ones on the second floor. To learn how to test your house for energy leaks and tax credit information go to www.sealyourhome.info.
We prefer Acrylic Latex Caulk with silicone because it’s flexible, water-resistant and lasts a long time. When you’re looking at caulk, make sure you get one that’s paintable if you don’t want to use the standard white and tan colored shades. You can save some money if you purchase a 12 pack of caulk.
Whether you choose a frame or cradle type of caulking gun, they both work in the same way. Some have a notched shaft, others are smooth, which lets you release the caulk in one easy motion. A nozzle cutter that’s built in is a nice feature, but nothing cuts the caulk tube tip as neatly as a utility knife.
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The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to caulk windows with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020