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What is Rope Caulk?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

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.

A pair of disposable rubber gloves will keep the sticky caulk from attaching itself to any exposed skin.
A pair of disposable rubber gloves will keep the sticky caulk from attaching itself to any exposed skin.

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.

Discussion Comments


In theory, using rope caulk is very effective as sealing cracks and small gaps.

Regrettably, separating one of the "ropes" from the "ribbon" is much much easier said and advertised than done. More often than not, one just can't peel off one of the "ropes."


Does rope caulk work well to stop water leaks?


The first time I used rope caulk, I learned the hard way how important it is for the outside temperature to not be too cold.

I waited until it was too cold and had problems with the caulk sticking through the winter. I reapplied it later in the summer when I wanted to keep the inside of the house cool.

The nice thing about rope caulk is that it will work all year long to help with your utility bills.


When I went to buy some rope caulk to put around my windows, I was glad to see that I had a color choice. We have a brown house with dark trim around the windows.

I had the choice of white or brown, and was glad I didn't have to go with white. I know they work the same, but the white would have stuck out too much on my house.

The darker color blends in a lot better. Rope caulk is one of those things that anybody can do. It is easy to apply and easy to remove when you want your windows open in the warmer months.


You can use rope caulk for more than just windows. My husband always keeps this along with a caulk gun in our motor home.

He has used the rope caulk to take care of windows, vents and even places on the roof that might need patched.

The rope caulk will stick to a rubber roof, and this can come in handy when you are on the road.

Sometimes he has even taken a section of the caulk and warmed it up slightly in the microwave. This makes it a little bit more pliable and easier to apply.

This is one product he always has with him whether we are on the road or at home.


All of the windows in our home are old, and in the winter you can feel the cold air around them. In the fall I will go around and use rope caulk to weatherstrip all of my windows.

I know this makes a difference in my heating bills and it is nice to walk by a window without feeling such a cold draft.

This is a quick and inexpensive way to make my house warmer until I have the money to replace all of the windows.

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    • A pair of disposable rubber gloves will keep the sticky caulk from attaching itself to any exposed skin.
      By: grandaded
      A pair of disposable rubber gloves will keep the sticky caulk from attaching itself to any exposed skin.