There's a really well produced online magazine called ThisIsCarpentry (http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/) that promotes the craft of trim carpentry -- "Honor Your Craft."  

The website's opening carousel featured a photo of baseboard being installed, and it struck me that a trim carpenter might be in a position to make a difference -- from an air sealing point of view -- if they took the time to carefully apply caulk or sealant in the gap between floor and wall before installing the baseboard. And for that matter when they applied window and door casing, and even crown moldings. 

I guess my question is......is the extra effort worth it? 

Craig Savage

Tags: Air-Sealing

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Hi Craig,

Somebody has to do it.  Whether it is the specialists, the trim carpenter, or a bottom of the line laborer who hopefully does a decent job, that is the choice.  Not demeaning the laborers, but some workers cost more than others.  Certainly the trim carpenter should know how to spot when caulking needs to be done before he covers it up, never to be seen again.  But, IMO, they are not the ones who should be doing that work.

Bud

Good point. It might take a time and motion study to determine if it's faster for the trim carpenter to apply a bead, or to have the "laborer" do it. Then there'd be the issue of the hardened bead itself causing headaches for the trim carpenter.

I suspect there's a product that could be invented that had a gasket on the trim that might perform the same task. Of course, that might be rivaled by drywall gasket systems. 

 I'm simply wondering out loud what value air sealing experts see in the approach. 

I am actually curious by what you mean from the floor to the wall - if they can see that the bottom plate wasn't caulked to the subfloor, then yes as long as they don't impeded the expansion or contraction of the flooring materials (esp. floating or hardwood floors). For the drywall to framing connection, they would not only be hard pressed to do it but they would have no way of knowing if it was already done.

If you are talking about the finish floor to drywall the answer is don't do it - you would be causing some major issues & that is generally to big of a gap to handle with foam alone. Amen on the thoughts about Gary Katz's site, he is a good guy, does great work & promotes professionalism including sealing around windows when they are installed.

Hi Sean

If it's at the trim carpentry stage, the carpenter could be working to a finished wood floor, or directly to a subfloor or underlayment. And you are correct, in those cases you wouldn't know if air sealing had been done prior. Which perhaps is a point -- is caulking at this stage and place perhaps just a "band-aid," or is it good insurance. 

Impeding expansion and contraction is a valid concern --having seen expanding flooring push bottom plates over 3/8." 

Maybe it's just a bad idea....not my first.

Sav 

It is what ever the builder or owner will pay for. 

Taking into consideration such things as the previously mentioned expansion & contraction of other materials...

On windows, entry doors, exterior walls, and interior walls which enclose a thermal bypass, what would a person stand to lose by sealing or caulking before doing the trim work?

It would help in various ways such as energy and keeping out insects. The thing is who will pay for the extra time and materials. Say on an 1800 sq/ft ranch, it could easily cost $1,800 to do a aforementioned caulking job. Also, it is the painter who would probably bid that work.

Hi Rocky

Thanks for the feedback. I guess I was thinking the trim carpenter (what I did in another lifetime and for a LOT less hourly wage) would apply caulk/sealant behind the trim, not where a painter typically does at the edge/interface. Of course, that might not alleviate the need for the painter's application in higher quality work. 

If you follow the string, I conjured up a trim with 'gasketing' tape that might reduce the labor.

The whole idea might be a waste of labor, but if it gets people thinking it might be worth it.  

I think it's not a waste of labor, it just represents a new way of looking at the work for some. Look at the potential return on investment over the life of the home in reduced energy use, reduced carbon footprint, and non-energy beneifts such as keeping out insects. 

It might be a matter of who's the most logical person to do it at that site, taking into consideration that just within the span of this thread we've seen mention of painters and trim carpenters, and those who install floor covering and windows.

It's something I'd consider, but not something I'd call in a master to take care of. I'd hire the kid down the street or put the rookie/junior apprentice on it...or do myself. 

It's also worth considering that as products such as 2 part spray on foam insulation gain more presence in the market, other aspects of the trade will change to go with it. 

Craig,

This will never work with finish carpenters as they have different criteria to judge their work. For an example - check out the This Is Carpentry instruction on installing baseboard trim and inside/outside miters. It is sometimes necessary to actually dig out a portion of the drywall to get a good-fitting joint, or to install shims to get a long piece of trim to lay against a wall so as not to be noticeably bowed (either due to the wall or the board).

Since you are talking about air sealing, you will find that only caulking the bottom of drywall behind baseboard trim will net you next to nothing in air sealing in this situation - even if a "target of opportunity" when changing trim. Way too many other points of leakage. Especially if the bottom wall plate is exposed to a basement or crawl space. There is much more "bang for the buck" if the uppermost air leakage points are sealed (usually done in the attic area) than the bottom. And there are fluid/liquid-applied air barriers that can be brushed/sprayed over narrow leaking joints (think of all the exposed drywall-to-top plate joints in the attic) rather than caulk or foam-in-a can before insulation is (re)installed. A better "target of opportunity" for the baseboard area is when the siding/cladding is being replaced so the entire outside wall can be addressed.

There is one interior wall base "target of opportunity" that we often recommend - installing a small bead of expanding foam-in-a-can to the outside wall area (for slabs or basement) under the trim when wall-to-wall carpeting has been removed (and before new carpeting is installed). There is usually a much greater outside air gap for original w-t-w carpet than hardwood floor.

Good feedback David, which is the point, after all.  And your last tip about sealing when wall-to-wall carpeting is being removed/replaced is precisely what I was trying to provoke. .

And interestingly, you allude to another "target of opp" during residing. Working with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, we studied 17 houses that were being resided. We paid the contractors to very carefully and thoroughly  "reside-tight," which involved installing the WRB (either film or liquid applied) as a true air-barrier. Blower door tests before and after the residing showed an average air change reduction of 20%. You can look at the results and watch how the contractors "resided tight" in a series of videos:. 

http://www.buildingmedia.com/ReSideTight/

And although more research needs to be done to confirm the results in different climate zones and under controlled conditions, it appears that savings from this target of opportunity could translate to thousands of dollars in energy savings over the life of the replacement siding, and if proven, might eventually qualify for credits or rebates from utilities in programs such as HPwES. In terms of opportunity, it's estimated that over 1.5 million houses a year are resided -- seemingly a huge opportunity. 

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