Note: This DIY article is provided as a general guide only and is not intended to take the place of product-specific installation procedures; always follow applicable manufacturers’ instructions. Depending on your home’s age and condition, location within the home, and other potential factors, repairs and/or upgrades or other services may be necessary prior to the beginning and/or completion of your project that may involve the services of a home improvement professional. This article does not include advice pertaining to local building codes and/or any related inspections
When it comes to preventing pests from entering your home, a high-quality sealant or insulating foam can serve as your first line of defense by sealing cracks or gaps. Each can be used alone as proactive and insecticide-free pest control or in conjunction with such products if you already have pest problems.
Helping keep pests out of your home is as easy as following these steps below:
Find the right sealant
You might be wondering: should I use a sealant or a spray foam insulation? That depends on the size of the gap or crack you wish to fill. If the gap spans ½” by ½” or larger, you’ll want to utilize spray foam insulation because it’s designed to expand and fill the space. If your gap is smaller than that, a 100% silicone sealant is ideal.
If you need a reliable sealant to help seal out pests, we recommend Advanced Silicone 2* Window & Door sealant. Offering a 100% weatherproof seal, this sealant has 10-year mold-free product protection1 and is shrink and crack-proof. That means the sealant won’t break down or crumble, keeping pests out season after season. And, this sealant can be used for interior or exterior projects.
When you need a spray foam insulation to do the job, we recommend Gaps & Cracks Insulating Foam. This product seals small gaps and cracks less than one inch, helping repel water and rodents from infiltrating spaces. In addition, it offers an R-5 insulating value
Locate the potential entry points for bugs & pests
Once you’ve chosen the right product, it’s important to identify the areas at-risk. These areas can be on the interior or exterior of a home and could have gaps and cracks that should be sealed.
- Roof trim, roof rafters, joints, sheathing and siding
- Exterior columns, steps, decks and porches
- Exterior pipes and foundation
- Doors, windows, door and window frames
- Crawl spaces
- Moldings and baseboards
- Floorings and walls
- Interior pipes and plumbing
Clean the area & take safety precautions
First, be sure to remove any old sealant, dirt or loose particles on the area with a caulk-removing tool. In the case of concrete and masonry applications, you can use a wire brush instead. After proper cleaning, wipe the area clean with a cloth.
Before sealing, whether it’s with a sealant or spray foam insulation, make sure to read all the safety instructions on the packaging before use. For extra protection, wear safety goggles, gloves, respiratory protection and protective clothing.
Seal the area: sealant
If you’ve chosen a sealant for your project, apply masking tape to either side of the joint to create a straight edge.
Cut the tip of the nozzle to your desired bead size. Pierce the inner seal and insert cartridge into the caulk gun. Seal at a 45-degree angle around cracks or spaces where pests can enter, either inside or outside the home.
Squeeze with even, consistent pressure to control the rate at which the caulk leaves the tube. Then, remove the tape if you used it.
Use your gloved finger or a wet caulk-smoothing tool to smooth the bead of caulk into the space within two to five minutes of application.
Adjust pressure to the gun so that the sealant is barely coming out of the tube. Replace the cap or use a nail or similar object to seal the tube opening. To clean the area around the sealed joint, use soap and water when using an acrylic sealant and mineral spirits for a silicone sealant.
Wipe any excess material from tools and clean accordingly.
Seal the area: spray foam insulation
If you’ve chosen spray foam insulation for your project, first shake can vigorously for one minute. Screw dispenser completely onto the can valve taking care not to activate the valve.
TIP: if you’re unfamiliar with the product, test it on an experimental surface by slowly depressing the trigger while the can is inverted. Continue use in inverted orientation.
Begin filling rough openings approximately 1/3 full. This will allow the foam to expand and fill the opening. When you reach the 1/3 point, release the trigger, keeping the straw moving in the direction you’re sealing.
Allow the first layer of foam to cure before applying a second layer. Do not disturb the uncured foam. Trip cured foam with a sharp utility knife or sandpaper as needed. If your foam is exposed to sunlight, it must be painted or stained.
No matter the home, using the right sealant can be an important and inexpensive step to pest control. Need more sealing tips and tricks? Explore our Projects & How To’s page for more DIY insights.
1Fully cured sealant is resistant to stain-causing mold and mildew. Regular cleaning of sealant is required, however, as soap and other residue may cause secondary mold and mildew growth.