It is common to see properties in disrepair with copious amounts of caulking on the exterior. Caulk is a waterproof filler and material sealant. It is used in cracks and crevices to prolong the life of exterior surfaces. What caulk cannot do well is prevent water from entering a property.

This may come as a surprise but when caulk is used to fix a leak, it is almost always a temporary fix. Sidings, shingles, bricks and stuccos installed with appropriate flashing is what prevents the elements from entering a property. Not caulk. Best practices in the construction of exterior materials is what prevents water from leaking. Caulk almost always fails as a sealant. Nor is caulk an adhesive and will not structurally hold trim and siding in place for any length of time.

Homeowners, in an attempt to make repairs inexpensively, often use caulking as a sealant or an adhesive. If you are looking to buy a home, copious amounts of caulking in an area is often times hiding an underlying problem with the other materials failing. It is an excellent red flag which begs to be looked into before closing on a home.

Shea Fite is a Realtor-Associate®. Additionally, he is owner of the WhiteTree Company which handles construction issues and Sale Ready Services for homeowners.

Roof leaking along the valley that was caulked shut

Missing flashing not caulking was causing the leak

Replaced the siding. Note the new flashing under the siding.