DESIGN SHADOW: CAULKING – A TIDLIC

Now that we are about a month out from “turn over” – the date that the contractor turns the building over to the Owner I am spending at least one day a week if not two, walking the project and inspecting progress of materials and finishes going in. Today I met with one of the contractors and their sub contractor that is installing caulks  – yeah, not the most exciting part of a building, but definitely important even though we never discussed it in school.

We approved a caulk manufacturer through the submittal process and picked the colors for their appropriate locations. Most of the relevant locations are where stone and wood are adjacent to other materials and there is a gap. We try to keep this gap to a 1/8″ width. But on our project we had some variation with that size. When they started to install/apply the caulk in the 1/8″- 1/4″ gap, the caulk started to fail. So after reviewing the options, we went with another Manufacturer’s product. Today’s meeting was to review the installation quality and the colors of the new caulking for the project. Because we had approved the submittal, that gave them the green light to proceed and many locations were completed. Largely all the areas completed looked great. However, a few areas had a less than desirable installation  quality – messy – and one or two places had cracking.

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After further discussions, we agreed that it was the dimensional wall covering that was giving them fits.  This could be rectified by using a different color caulk that would help hide the mess the wall covering caused, and use a straight edge to hold the caulking gun too. We will come back in a couple days to see if this has improved the situation.

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Caulking is one of those “nitty gritty” items – details that aren’t often discussed in the vision of Design. However they are one of those items that if they fail – or aren’t right for the right location, your design will fail – or at least not be what you had intended. I have spent hours reviewing caulk submittals, site installations and had more conversations concerning them than I would like. But they matter, and the more designers know about these types of things, the more credible their designs will be.

After talking caulk the contractor and I walked the building to review various other installation questions their sub contractors were having. I then headed back to the office for the last couple hours of the day.

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