Rope caulk is a putty-like substance that is used primarily for sealing drafts in windows. The caulk is sold in long rope-like rolls, which can be cut or torn off to a desired length. The caulk is pressed into a gap in the window pane or casing and seals the void, thereby preventing air from passing through. Rope caulk is often easier to use than a conventional caulking gun and tube of caulk due to its ability to be pressed into tight spaces where it may be difficult to operate a caulking gun.
When applying rope caulk to a window, it is wise to clean the surfaces of the window where the caulking will be applied. A dirty surface will sometimes create a poor seal between the caulk and the window pane. Dirt and debris hinder the caulking from adhering, and the material may peel off after a short time. This can mean the caulking will need to be re-applied to the window. After cleaning the surfaces, the should be allowed to dry thoroughly before the caulk is applied.
An installation trick is to dip the rope caulk into a container of lukewarm water for a few seconds prior to pressing it into place. This creates a more pliable caulk, which is easier to press into small gaps. The caulk should not be left in the water for any prolonged period of time as the water will soon dissolve the caulk and render it useless. When using the water-dip application method, a pair of disposable rubber gloves will keep the sticky caulk from attaching itself to any exposed skin.
Temperature is the key to a successful rope caulk installation. The window should be no colder on its exterior surface than it is on its interior. Applying rope caulk to a window that is cold outside and warm inside will usually result in a failed adhesion of the caulk, and an air draft. This caulk should be applied in the early fall months in most areas. This will allow the seal to set prior to cold weather setting in.
Rope caulk is rather easy to apply in most cases and cleans up well with water. The caulking compound creates a durable seal against most types of weather when installed correctly, and may save some energy from being wasted through a drafty window. Follow all manufacturer's directions when applying this product, and as with all chemical products, store or dispose of any unused materials according to the package and any local ordinances.