What is Butyl Caulking Sealant – How to Use It?

what is butyl caulking sealant used for?

You probably have used caulk to seal up cracks in the walls and joints of your home. It’s simple to use yet quite effective and can last for many years with the right product that is properly applied.

But Butyl caulk is a bit different!

At its core, Butyl Rubber Caulk is a sealant made of elastomer that can be used on various types of building surfaces and construction materials outdoors, such as metal, glass, wood, brick, and stone.

But what makes this type of caulking well suited for exterior use, what are its primary applications, and how do you apply it to cracks or gaps? Let’s get into all these details below…

Benefits of Butyl Caulk

Butyl caulking is different from acrylic latex (that’s used on interiors) because it contains butyl rubber. 

This rubber is quite effective as it is naturally waterproof along with being elastic. This means that once the caulk cures in the gap or crack, it will not only prevent water from entering, but it can also shrink or expand to keep the gap filled. 

What makes this type of caulking desirable for outdoor use is that it is waterproof and resists the elements.

Depending on the brand, some of these super-elastomeric sealant formulas are paintable and can also be applied to cold or damp surfaces while still retaining their excellent adhesion.

Butyl Caulking Uses

Butyl is a type of caulking that’s designed for exterior use. You will see this type of caulking used on chimneys, gutters, flashings, and other harder surfaces that are exposed to the elements. 

And while there are other types of caulking that offer these advantages, an additional benefit to butyl is that it can bind with so many different types of materials like…

  • Concrete
  • Glass
  • Masonry
  • Metal
  • Wood

This type of versatility means you can start on the roof and use it to seal joints or fill up cracks in the chimney. 

Then you can move down to the walls and use it on the aluminum siding or window trims to plug up the gaps.

Also, you can go into your basement or outdoor foundations to address issues affecting the concrete. 

applying butyl caulking

How to Apply Butyl Caulking? 

The first step is to wear the proper clothing and protection. This means long sleeves, gloves, and eyewear so the caulk does not meet the skin and eyes.

The area in which you are applying the caulk should be well-ventilated. If you are outdoors, this should not be an issue. But if you are indoors, such as in the basement or garage, use a fan to circulate the air and wear a respirator. 

1- Clean the surface

For caulk application, start by cleaning away the surface. This means removing any loose mortar, dust, and old finishes that might be peeling or otherwise compromised. 

If needed, you can use a power washer or a wire brush to scrub the surface thoroughly to ensure that it is clean and free of loose material. Be sure to let it dry before applying the caulk. 

As part of the cleaning process, any mold that is present should also be removed as well. You can do this with a mixture of one part bleach and ten parts of water. 

Spray on the solution, let it kill the mold, then wipe away the remains or rinse using a power washer and let it fully dry. 

Once the area is clean and dry, apply the butyl caulk to the crack or gap.

2- Set and test the caulk

To be fully effective, the temperature must be between 40- and 120 degrees F. The caulk will not properly stick to the surface if it is too cold or too hot. 

If the temperature is towards the upper ranges, you need not cool the caulk to apply it. However, if it is toward the colder degrees, slightly heat the caulk by soaking the tube in warm water for about 20 minutes. 

Cold butyl rubber caulk usually hardens up, which makes it challenging to squeeze the material from its tube.

Once done, cut the tip of the tube at a 45-degree angle. Load it into the caulk gun and squeeze the trigger to begin. 

Then test the caulk to ensure the flow is proper. Use paper or other material that can be thrown away once the testing is complete. 

3- Apply the butyl caulking

Now, set the tip at a 30-degree angle to the gap or crack and apply the caulk. Run the tip from one side of the crack to the other, filling the opening. 

Once the gap has been filled, use a tool to smooth out the butyl caulk.

Depending on the brand you purchase, there may be specific instructions as to how to apply, smooth, or shape the butyl caulk. So, make sure you check the user manual.

Finally, let the caulk fully dry and check it to ensure it adequately has filled the gap. 

Once you are finished applying the caulk, change your clothes and wash them along with washing your hands.

How Long Does Butyl Caulk Last?

Unlike acrylic or silicone caulking, butyl caulk offers a much longer-lasting and dependable seal that will last for decades under normal conditions.

Even under extreme conditions, the butyl rubber component is exceptionally durable and will most likely last for years.

It’s good to regularly inspect the caulk once a year to ensure it is still intact. If you see signs of cracking or flaking, you must remove the caulk and add another round. 

How Can You Remove Butyl Rubber Caulk?

Although solid and long-lasting, you can remove butyl caulk with the right tools and techniques once it’s applied.

  • Use a utility knife to cut through the caulk edges from the surface
  • Pry up the caulk with a putty knife, angling it at 45 degrees
  • Use your fingers to grab the caulk, then pull it up and out
  • Repeat the above steps until you have removed all of the caulk

After removing the butyl caulk, soak steel wool in mineral spirits and use it to scrub the surface.

If you don’t remove all of the residues from the old caulk, the new sealant won’t stick.

The Bottom Line

Butyl caulking can be applied to cracks and gaps that are ¼-inch wide or larger, much like caulking made from other materials.

It’s effective and efficient because it can bind with most of the materials used to make up a home, building, or structure, particularly the joints in metal and masonry roofs that might move slightly due to expansion and contraction. 

Also, if you’re looking to use it for sealing mobile homes or skylights or need a vapor barrier applied – this caulking would work very well.

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