Builders Warehouse inventory waits for delivery to you from our one square block facility. Centrally located in Chicago, our Builders Warehouse team fulfills your order on site. Our extensive and ever-expanding selection of professional building materials and tools provides professionals and DIYs with what they need.
Three factors for choosing caulks/sealants wisely.
Three major types of caulk (and why).
States’ (such as California) regulation of caulks.
It is easy to think of caulk as that necessary gap-filling goop in a tube (or bucket). Spend as little as possible, use it where it’s needed, and move on. But like we provide with other materials used in both professional and do it yourself work, it is important for us at BuildersWarehouse.com to inform our customers to help them choose the right stuff. Before you load up that caulk gun let’s explore just why all caulks are not created equal.
The mindful builder or contractor looks at a few main factors when choosing caulk:
The specific job.
The exact materials the caulk will be applied to and between.
The types of stress the caulk will encounter once applied.
You may have additional points of your own; that’s great! Please let us know what they are in the comments!
Let’s see how the three aspects mentioned above work together in making a mindful choice. Caulk’s number one job function is usually to seal out moisture. Indoors that’s illustrated with a caulk-edged bathtub or shower. Outdoors moisture makes war on us as rain, snow, and humidity. Secondarily, especially in outdoor use, caulk protects seams heavily impacted by ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV light, for instance, breaks down almost all forms of roofing material to some degree over time. Most vulnerable in such situations are the seams between sheets of material. A caulk equipped to withstand UV radiation will protect a roof where it is otherwise most vulnerable. Punchline? We want a caulk that is rated for UV protection.
Along with sunlight and rain/snow, temperature is a huge factor. Some more temperate areas need be less concerned with weather extremes. But for areas where winters can be bitter and summers scorching, it will be important to have a caulk designed for the stresses extreme heat and frigid cold bring.
How “clingy” / “aggressive” is the caulk? That is, how well does it stick and stay stuck to the surfaces where it’s applied? (The fancy folks call that the caulk’s “adhesion factor.”) The average do-it-yourselfer has probably had the experience of grabbing a bit of old bathtub caulk, pulling slightly, and having the entire strip of caulk come right off. That’s an example of what moisture even indoors can do to cheap materials. Or also likely, and this is important for mindful amateurs and professionals, the surface was badly prepared; caulk applied to a dirty or too-freshly-applied under-surface will also result in bad adhesion. Good work cannot be rushed.
HISTORY FACT: Today, “caulk” and “sealant” are used interchangeably. But caulk was originally the term used for the stuff used to fill gaps in wooden boat hulls. Sealant had more to do with home building.
Water-based caulks are usually latex, a rubbery substance also used in some paints. Let’s put this one out of the way. We at Builders Warehouse don’t at present sell latex caulk, the kind DYI folks use in their bathrooms. These caulks are cheap and easy to use and clean up, but not nearly as durable as other varieties. This is especially true outdoors.
Solvent-based caulk dries as the solvent within it evaporates, leaving the solidified caulk behind. Many of these sealants are labeled with explicit warnings to not use indoors at all, or at the least to use in a highly ventilated area untrafficked by other persons. (It is vital to read the specific caulk’s warnings and directions, usually printed on the tube / container.)
The solvent-based OSI-Quad (four polymers) and NPC Solar Seal 900 (three polymers), sold by Builders Warehouse.com in various colors, are such caulks. Solar Seal says of itself, “the best protector for all commercial/ industrial and high end residential projects.” (Doubtless OSI and other manufacturers would contest that!)
Moisture-cure caulks / sealants come in two varieties: Polyurethane-based (called “poly”) and Silicone-based. What does “moisture-cure” mean? Instead of dry air causing it to harden faster, it is a chemical reaction to moisture that causes it to dry. In some situations, professionals will even use a water vapor to speed up drying. And in high humidity these caulks will also dry more quickly.
For instance, as we note on BuildersWarehouse.com, the poly-based Tremco Vulkem 116 “is an excellent general-purpose sealant designed for use on poured and precast concrete, masonry work, window and door perimeters, and similar types of construction joints.” Likewise for BASF’s MasterSeal NP1. In contrast, NovaFlex Metal Roof Sealant aims to (as its name suggests) provide the best caulk for metallic surfaces from gutters to pipe vents and bases (“boots”). The color of your surfaces can often be matched with BuildersWarehouse caulks’ extensive palette, a color patch shown next to many of our caulk/sealant products.
Which of these caulks is best for you? We at Builders Warehouse provide both solvent and moisture based (the latter in both poly and silicone based varieties). It can be is tough to make a choice, as various caulks will do a good job. Consider what type of materials the sealant/caulk will be used on, whether the job is indoors or outdoors, and relative costs if more than one caulk option seem equally adequate otherwise. In this way wise options become clearer.
Those State Laws and Safety
At the time of this article’s writing, regulatory laws concerning the use of various caulks vary from state to state; at least seventeen states presently with some regulation include California, Utah, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
There is a history that deserves attention here. Older caulks once used on many buildings are known now to have contained both asbestos and PCBs. Current caulks do not have that issue, but it should be kept in mind the various chemicals in today’s sealants are potentially dangerous during and after application. Some states view caulks as dangerous enough to regulate fairly stringently. California is first and foremost, though not alone, among them. Other states, such as Utah, actually have only some counties with regulations and others without them; doubtless this can cause any contractor headaches. It is always key to consult the local laws of the area where your job is located.
At BuildersWarehouse.com we attempt to provide both the caulk and the tools, including both standard sized caulk guns by Lakefront and Albion and a larger “pro sized” NPC Albion caulk gun using special cartridges required by California law; these are, in California, available only for professionals. We cannot guarantee we’re up to speed on laws across all fifty states as they change, and urge our customers to consult their locales for such laws, we do try to provide alternatives. Purchase and use of materials in accordance with the law is your responsibility.
Two of Builders Warehouse’s most knowledgeable product specialists, Dave Coleman and Chris Spicer celebrating extension cords during a Builders Warehouse photography shoot.
Why go to Home Depot or Amazon when you can help “one of the least of these” instead?
A few years ago, I retired and joined the Jesus People USA community, a ministry oriented toward outreach to the inner city Chicago neighborhood they’re located in. Because I had a strong heart and history of activism for the homeless, I thought for sure my full-time volunteer position would be at our homeless shelter Cornerstone Community Outreach. God had other plans. Apparently, my experience and gifts for computers and the Internet were needed instead with the then-in-planning internet-based expression of JPUSA’s largest mission-business.
What in the world is mission business? I was about to find out. I started working with Tim Bock, head of the missions business. JPUSA organizations tend to spurn hierarchy and titles. Even though there is some, it’s modestly displayed. Tim is a leadership council member and top dog of the mission-business ministry.
Working with Tim to build an online presence inspired me. Editing and reading his books more times than I can count really sealed the deal.
Builders Warehouse is born
To make a long story short, a year ago and some, we decided to mothball our then current online infrastructure, and design an online store and website from the ground up with open source software and 100% internal human resources. No consultants or outside companies were involved. The new expression of our vision, Builders Warehouse went live.
Builders Warehouse is a wholly owned arm of Lakefront Supply, Inc., a for profit corporation wholly owned by a non-profit. A church organization specifically, Jesus People USA is both an intentional community made up of a few hundred people and a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination.
A common theme with Jesus People USA is shelter. Shelter for the JPUSA community (see Acts 2:44-46), shelter for the homeless, shelter for the elderly and shelter for building materials customers.
Builders Warehouse continues that tradition online and nationally. On the site we currently offer over 1000 of the thousands of products we have in stock today, and more are added every working day. As we continue to grow, we will expand into other building material categories.
For me, a concept behind Builders Warehouse is like ‘The Parable of the Bags of Gold’ Matthew 25:14-30. What I am asking everyone who reads this is, don’t bury the blessings God gave you. To the point, and please excuse my directness, if you are going to make building material purchases, don’t do it with secular billionaires and corporations, do it with a company run by folks who live intentionally more simply so that others will be helped. Do it in a way that joins your business and/or building needs with the needs of others.
What Your No-Cost-to-You Purchases Do for Others
330 people every day currently depend on our CCO Shelters for a place to live. We offer free dine-in meals to hundreds more per day, as well as take-home food for many others. 100 senior citizens count on our Friendly Towers for their senior housing, a commodity in great shortage in Chicago and nationally. Our vision is informed by faith; you can help with no cost to you except the amount you’d have spent anyway for materials.
Please share in person and online Builders Warehouse with your friends, faith leaders and faith organizations. If everyone shared only one time in each of those 3 categories, our effective impact on the poor in our city would be greatly aided.
We are not asking for donations or your sacrifice, only a chance to earn your business with competitively priced and needed products.
Consider us a way to spend wisely and mindfully. And thanks!