The Handyguys Podcast - Working Together on that Honey Do List Home Energy Savings Tool tests

How To Caulk Windows And Where To Caulk Windows

by The Handyguys

in Audio Podcasts


The Handyguys discuss the the energy saving task of caulking windows.


Before we discuss caulking windows we would like to remind our listeners and viewers of our recent video production on replacing a flush valve.  In addition, we will be re-doing our “Fixing a Dishwasher” video in High Definition for additional clarity on the repair process. We hope to do a video showing some caulking techniques in the near future too.

Window Caulking

Handyguy Paul was asked by a friend “where do you caulk a window?”. That’s a pretty broad question. Is the window wood, vinyl or aluminum? Do You want to caulk it for aesthetics or because of drafts? We will assume drafts. Also, what is the siding material? new replacement windows in old frames? There are a lot of variables. We ramble on in the podcast discussing different places we caulk.

Vinyl windows and vinyl siding
With these types of windows there isn't much caulking to do if they are installed correctly. You can use some painters caulk on the inside where the window meets the casing or the drywall. If it was installed correctly there shouldn't be a draft coming from this area.

Click to see a full sized image. Image © Andersen Corporation

Vinyl windows, if installed correctly shouldn’t need to be caulked in too many places. Caulking on the interior is mainly for aesthetics. You will caulk where the drywall meets the frame or the casing meets the frame. You can use some painters caulk on the inside where the window meets the casing or the drywall. If it was installed correctly there shouldn’t be a draft coming from this area.

Wood windows with wood siding
Click to see full size image

Click to see full sized image

These windows require a lot more maintenance. All gaps should be re-caulked. If caulking after painting or if you have natural wood, you use a clear caulk. If caulking before painting you should use paintable caulk rated for exterior use.

Replacement windows
Click on the image to see it full size. Thanks to Champion Windows for providing this image.

Click to see a full sized image. Thanks to Champion Windows for providing this image.

Replacement windows are installed in existing wood frames. The windows come as a unit and should be caulked properly when installed. In situations with replacement windows, you have the area between the new window and the existing frame to keep caulk maintained as well as around any old trim.

Handyguy Tips

During a new segment to the show, the Handyguys each provide an important tip for the typical homeowner.

Brian provides some insight on a product from Dap called Seal ‘N Peel Removable Caulk which allows you to temporarily caulk a gap.  This makes sense for gaps between sashes and frames that allow cold air penetration during the winter.
Paul brings up an unrelated tip regarding the testing of a duplex electrical receptacle.  Check out the podcast for more information and be sure to test both sockets when you install or modify any receptacle.
Lastly, when shopping for a New home builder make sure they install quality windows before signing an agreement. Quality windows truly increase the value of a home.


Thanks to Champion Windows for providing one of the pictures. Check them out at or follow them on twitter

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Aluminum Extrusions January 17, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Over the past few months my electric bill has been going up, and this winter it hit a high point. A friend told me that it might be time to replace my windows. I’m hoping that there would be a cheaper option. Would re-caulking my windows be a good step to take before replacing my entire windows, or just a waste of time and money?


The Handyguys January 18, 2010 at 9:43 am

It would depend on the age of the windows, the age of the house, the type of glazing on the windows as well as how well your house is insulated. For example, if you have old single pane glass but have storm windows but no attic insulation then I would add insulation not do new windows. If you have gaps outside definitely seal them. If you house is well insulated but has old single pane windows with no storms then yes replacement windows may make your home more comfortable.


marisela August 16, 2010 at 3:13 am

I’ m replacing aluminun windows for impact when installer removed old window the new one was smaller there was a gap between the concrete and the frame of the window possible 1/4 to 1/2 inches they applied screws and a rubber foam and caulking is this correct? I feel that the entire window will come of during a hurricaine (I live in Florida) that is why I’m changing the windows.I was able to see the screws between the frame and the concrete.Any advice will be helpful they are coming tomorrow to continue and I,m scare to death

Thanks again


The Handyguys August 17, 2010 at 3:30 pm

marisela – I sent you an email but haven’t heard back. Some pictures would help us determine if its okay or not.


Brian M September 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I have wood widows with wood siding. Should the top of the drip edge be calked along the bottom of the siding and should the bottom of the trim be calked where it meets the sill?


The Handyguys September 10, 2011 at 2:08 pm

The drip edge flashing goes under the siding and over the top of the window. It shouldn’t need caulked there if the flashing is installed correctly. If in doubt you can caulk it, it wouldn’t hurt anything.

The bottom trim should be caulked where it meets the bottom of the sill but not below it. Make sense? Email us a picture and we can try and help out more [email protected]


Kristi G September 13, 2011 at 11:09 am

I have old single pane windows with storms windows on top. Do I caulk around that?


The Handyguys September 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm

yes, the outer frame holding the storm window should be caulked where it attaches to the window frame. At the bottom of the storm window frame there are “weep holes” to let out water that could get between the storm window and inside window. those should not be caulked and kept clean so water can drain.


wilborn71 October 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Great podcast! Look forward to the video you mentioned you’d be making. Any advice on the best time of the year to caulk? Can it be too hot out to caulk your windows?


The Handyguys October 3, 2011 at 10:28 am

Best time? When its dry out and the temperature is within the range stated on the package. If its freezing cold that’s bad and if its blazing hot that can be bad too.


Shawn Edwards October 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I have a fairly large gap on my inside window where the framing of the window should meet the dry wall. How do I seal this area? should I use some kind of exspandable foam? I am asking because we have had an ant problem this fall and they are coming in around that area.


The Handyguys October 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Shawn – Use some paintable caulk. if the gap is really large you may want to re-install the trim first. It should sit flush. Send some pictures to [email protected] and we may have better suggestions.

Also, ants wont come in if there is no reason for them to come in. Make sure you clean clean clean. Things like dog or cat food, crumbs, etc will attract them. Eliminate their food and they will go elsewhere. Sometimes even water in the kitchen sink will attract them. Wipe the sink after using it if you get ants in the sink.

If they are carpenter ants then you may have other issues. Carpenter ants tunnel in wood.


Haley January 21, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Hi! We have added an addition using James Hardi shingles and Maritech vinyl windows. There are gaps where the shingles meet the vinyl windows. There is no molding trim around the outside other than what is pre-attached to the window. Should we caulk around the outside where the shingles and the window meets and if so, what kind of caulking should we use? Should we use trim pieces to finish the windows and then caulk? The inspector will be coming this week and any timely advice would be much appreciated!! Thanks for the info!


The Handyguys January 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Haley – I cant positively say. In researching the Maritech window construction, if they were installed correctly, there should not be any need for additional caulking. Adding trim would be an aesthetic choice which I would consider doing if your budget allowed.


Ken March 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I recently had single pan windows replaced with aluminum ones and in one bedroom we have wasps getting in thru the window somehow. I’ve caulked the outside and we are looking on the inside now. Please help.


The Handyguys March 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm

You should only need to caulk outside to keep the critters out. I would check the windows again but also, check the eaves above the windows, siding, crawl spaces, basements, attic, etc.


Brian June 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I just bought a newly renovated cottage. The new windows are vinyl and the siding is cedar clapboards. There is a small gap between all the siding and windows/doors. Does this require caulking.


The Handyguys June 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm

It shouldn’t require caulk if the windows and siding were properly installed.


Jason June 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Hey I have aluminum windows with vinyl siding do I need to caulk the
outside of the windows or just were the metal meets the wood frame on inside


Jason June 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Hi I have aluminum windows with vinyl siding do I need to silicone the outside of the windows or just the inside wher the wood meets the metal


The Handyguys June 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Outside only is all that is usually needed.


helen September 10, 2013 at 10:13 am

trying to caulk window do from a old house on the inside

how do I apply the caulk so its not a huge gob but done neatly and smoothly do I tape it first or what


The Handyguys September 10, 2013 at 10:21 am

First, don’t cut the tip of the tube larger than needed. Push the caulk gun, don’t pull it across the joint. Squeeze only as much caulk as needed, no more. If needed you can smooth it with a wet finger. Tape can help if you don’t have a steady hand.


helen September 10, 2013 at 10:15 am

trying to move a bed with mattress and boxsprings frame has wheels but its still hard and heavy to move as hooked to a headboard so I want to use sliders under the wheels but with a lip so the roller will not roll off as I am 80 yrs of age


The Handyguys September 10, 2013 at 10:23 am

Ask for help. See if a neighbor can help or a Deacon from a local church. Let me know your town and I could find someone if you cant.


James January 9, 2014 at 12:40 am

Vinyl windows and siding. Single pane.I have air leaks all around the edges of the windows in my house. You can feel the draft when its cold enough. I purched this as a HUD home. I was thinking that my geat wasn’t worth a damn then I realized how I can see light around the door sils.I’ve tried weather stripping but the doors are warped likely from where the previous owner attempted repairing this. I’m trying to think of a quick solution to some of theae issues I’m facing my powet bill runs me 350 a month right now and its not a very big home. About 1500 sq ft. I thought about caulking the windows from the inside. I’m curious if they’re even caulked at all. I’m pretty sure this is where I’m losing all my heat or AC


The Handyguys January 22, 2014 at 11:01 am

Caulking outside would be my first choice. Interior caulking is usually just for asthetic reasons. For your windows, look at adding a window insulation kit from Frost King to cut down on drafts. For your doors, first try to get them to hang straight, a carpenter can help with that. Then use the correct weatherstripping.


Troy January 18, 2014 at 12:22 am

I have a newer house with vinyl window in it, on the outside I have cider trim around all the windows that have a dime thickness gap or smaller all the way around ALL the windows, nothing has ever leaked or had water damage, is it recommended to caulk the gap or not. I live in an area in witch the days a warm/hot and nights are cold. Is that gap there for exspantion and contraction?


The Handyguys January 22, 2014 at 10:57 am

Probably no need to caulk that gap.


Leslie May 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I recently purchased a brand new house that was just built. It has vinyl windows and brick around the windows with a brick ledge. We found that there are gaps between the brick mortor and the windows big enough that I can stick a finger in it. We are concerned about critters and water getting into these gaps. The builder told us that it is not necessary to caulk around the windows and that he has never caulked around windows. Should we caulk the windows anyway?


The Handyguys May 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

The builder may be right if everything else was done correctly. The picture on page 14 and following of this document
May show how your house was built. That vendor only shows caluk below the head flashing and sil flashing. Look for weep holes, they are for any moisture that might get behind the brick to drain out.


Katie September 7, 2014 at 10:02 am

We have to take off our windows in our basement to get a couch inside. The delivery guy said we can cut the caulking down the sides and then reapply when the windows are back in. I have a few concerns… first, what kind of caulking should we get? It looks the same inside and out. It’s a dark brown color. Should we try and remove the old caulking before replacing it? If so, how do we do that? I can send pictures if that would help. Thanks so much!!


The Handyguys September 9, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hey Katie – Your choices of caulk will be somewhat limited if you are getting brown in color. Any “window & door” caulk will be fine. You will want to remove as much of the old caulk before applying new. Some caulks wont allow new caulk to stick to them. You would use a scraper and utility knife to remove the old caulk.


Erin Jester November 19, 2014 at 2:54 am

Hi. I have an old house and all the work that comes with it. The windows are about 13 years old, vinyl installed on a wood frame, and the outside of the house is stone. The weather has been very mild, but the temperature he dropped suddenly. I took the window unit air conditioner out, but it’s still very drafty. It’s only been about 35 degrees out the last few days. The sill and wall are cold to the touch. Is it too late to caulk for the season, even just on the inside? I know there is no insulation in the walls, but that’s a project for another day. If it’s too late to caulk, any suggestions aside from plastic wrap? (my cats usually rip it down) Thank you!


The Handyguys November 19, 2014 at 10:51 am

Step one would be to caulk OUTSIDE. Caulk ideally when its in the 50s or higher, we should get a few more warmer days depending on where you live. Also, make sure you lock the windows, that helps with drafts.

If you still have drafts, the old time way to deal with it would be to use heavy drapes and cover them. My parents had winter drapes and summer shears for their windows. Other options – caulk inside around the trim. The plastic wrap works fairly well if you can keep the cats away from it. Frost King is my go to supplier for that. There are also now removable caulk products you can use and then pull off in the summer.

If you really want to get fancy – You can remove the trim inside the house and then use a low expansion spray foam in the cavity behind the trim on the sides, above and below the window. You could also just use fiberglass in those gaps as well.

Good luck!


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