The Fallacy of Rope Caulk

Every year, I spend a lot of time trying to weatherproof my leaky windows. This stretches back to the apartment days, when my ancient bedroom windows would rattle back and forth with the slightest breeze.

When I can find it, I like removable caulk. It goes on like normal caulk, but dries to the consistency of rubber cement. Come spring, it’s pretty simple to just peel it off, as long as you have enough patience to take your time and not accidentally remove the varnish or paint around the windows. Even so, it’s relatively pricey – especially when you consider how many old, drafty windows I have! – and can be hard to find. I found some very early in the season at Wal-Mart, but despite hunting, I didn’t find another tube until nearly Christmas at an Ace.

For the best possible weatherproofing, I use removable caulk, let it set, and then shrink wrap the windows. This combination works really well, and I use it in areas that it makes a huge difference – namely the living room and my office. In the very few rooms with new windows, I either don’t bother (kitchen, since the time I spend in there is often over a hot stove), or I only shrink wrap (my bedroom).

However, one of the biggest energy losers in the house is my lovely porch, or three-season room. With eleven windows, all of them old and drafty (and one cracked – on my spring project list), it leaks like a sieve. And the giant window between the porch and the living room allows a ton of this frigid air through, despite sealing that window. But it’s not worth the immense time and effort it would take to shrink wrap the whole room. So this year, I tried rope caulk. I’d used it before to middling success in my old apartment, so I bought a roll and spent a November morning wrangling it into place. It presses into place pretty easily- I used my fingers and a putty knife. But I’ve found it doesn’t stay put. Every time I go onto the porch to get my mail, there seems to be another piece of rope caulk on the ground, having fallen from its home. At first, I’d diligently search for its origin and lovingly replace it. But now, I don’t bother – and it seems fully half of what I originally installed has fallen. The cat is delighted – she sees the pieces, usually at least 6-8 inches long, as toys for her stealthy forays onto the porch.

It may be user error on the part of the installer – was it too cold that morning? – or maybe it’s just an inferior product. Ideally, I’d replace all eleven windows, but my limited window funds will be spent on rooms I spend more time in – namely the living room. But either way, I doubt I’ll use rope caulk again.


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