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Window Glazing Putty vs Caulk: What Are The Differences?

Window Glazing Putty vs. Caulk

Even though the window glazing putty and caulk are two very different products, a lot of people usually think that they are one. Well, we hate to be the ones to break it to you guys, but… they are not. And before you start throwing tantrums, just hear us out.

Nobody’s disputing the fact that they both close or seal those tiny gaps found between your frames. All we’re saying is, it’s possible to find two very different products in the same market, serving the same intrinsic function. Or don’t you believe in co-existing?

We know some of these things can sound a tad bit confusing, so for the sake of clarity, we drafted this short piece. If it’s okay with you, we’d like to start by looking at the window glazing putty, before moving on to caulk.

Should you hold a different opinion at the end of it all, you’re allowed to reach out and share your thoughts. Okay? Great, let’s start.

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Window Glazing Putty Overview

Hacking knife chopping glazing putty

Hacking knife chopping glazing putty (Image Credit: Andy Dingley, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)We honestly do feel like the ingredients used in the manufacturing process are the primary factor that distinguishes the putty from the caulk. Of course, a lot of ingredients are normally used, but calcium carbonate (whiting), ground chalk, and linseed oil, are the main ones.

There was a time lead was part of that mix, but they had to stop using it after health experts revealed that its microfibers have a way of compromising the immune system. And some of the symptoms it caused were so severe that they could literally drive someone insane or lead to death.

Anyways, the putty is often frequently used by homeowners looking to ensure that their windows are securely sealed to their wooden frames. If you’ve used it before, you already know it guarantees that no air gets passage between your frames and those glasses.

Would we recommend the window glazing putty to someone looking for a sealant that’s weather-resistant? Absolutely.

The fashion in which it bonds to those frames is just incredible — whatever’s supposed to be sealed out, will be sealed out. And those that are in, will stay in. Also, it can withstand any amount of solar radiation, and staining has never been an issue during application. Frankly speaking, it’s so efficient and authentic that you’ll never have to worry about making your window look like a 1st-grade art project.

Now that we’ve mentioned the application, there are a couple of things that we feel obligated to highlight before ending this section.

Applying the Window Glazing Putty

For starters, the putty knife is the main tool used for application in this case. And you can get it from any store that sells putty, or other home improvement stuff.

But that wasn’t really our primary concern. What we really needed you to know, is that the window glazing putty is the type of sealant that requires time to heal. It won’t be done healing in 24 hours or even 48. Give it at least a week because it’s a lengthy process, and one that’s meant to ensure the product serves you for quite a long while.

Secondly, before you even think about how best to apply it, clean all those frames and glasses. Remember, we want the putty to bond with whatever surface it comes into contact with. And that’s not going to happen, if there are particles in between.

Thirdly, do not paint it right away. Painting should be done once the putty is completely healed and rock-hard. Applying paint right after application will be quite tempting but fight that urge.

We’ve seen people make the mistake of ignoring the instructions only to be disappointed down the road. Your putty will take centuries to heal, or not heal at all. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll put down that paint brush and forget about it for a minute.

Lastly, the glasses and the wooden frames should be a perfect fit. If the putty can fill up anything, is plain dumb. Yes, it could, but it won’t be as effective as it was designed to be. Something that could have lasted you a lifetime, will only last a couple of years. So, what’s the point?

  • Easy to apply
  • Very durable
  • Resistant to weather conditions
  • Can be applied to casement windows
  • Takes too long to dry up
  • Frames must perfectly fit the windows

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Caulk Overview

caulking outside window
Image Credit: Greg McGill, Shutterstock

Just like the window glazing putty, the caulk is also very useful if you’re looking to seal those gaps between your frames. And not only window frames, but door frames and plumbing fixtures as well. The other thing that they both share is the fact that it’s durable. Not as durable as the putty, but durable nonetheless.

What makes the caulk stand out is its versatility. It gives you several other options to explore, unlike the window glazing putty.

The different types of caulk include:
  • Roof and oil-based asphalt caulk: designed to be used by homeowners looking to apply roof and oil-based sealants.
  • Refractory caulk: the type that offers a higher degree of resistance to heat.
  • Mortar caulk: mostly useful if cement is involved. That’s to say, it bonds better with cement and not wood or metal.
  • Silicone caulk: the most durable caulk, with a higher degree of water resistance. The only downside is you cannot paint over it. It’s so good at what it does that it even resists paint.
  • Acrylic latex silicone: quite literally designed to be user-friendly. It’s the easiest caulk to apply. We don’t know if it’s because of the application gun that comes with it, but it’s something.
  • Latex caulk: offers versatility in the sense that you could use it as a substitute to any of the caulks listed here. Also, it comes in different shades of color.
  • Butyl rubber caulk: mostly used with metal and concrete. It’s terrible on wood.

Applying the Caulk

With the caulk, you’ll need an application gun, otherwise known as the caulking gun. Go ahead and rent or buy a new one if you’ve misplaced or broken yours. Improvising is definitely something we wouldn’t think of doing, because it will only mess things up, or make the process strenuous.

We would also advise you to do your due diligence before investing in a caulk. The thing is, since they are all designed to offer something different, you could easily buy one that’s only effective when applied on metal, thinking it’s perfect for wooden frames.

  • It’s durable
  • Versatile
  • Dries up quickly
  • Resistant to harsh weather elements
  • Not easy to apply

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Factors to Consider

Drying Time

Caulk dries quite faster than the putty. As mentioned earlier, the putty can even take weeks depending on the weather. That outer surface has to be as hard as a rock before any paint gets on it. But with caulk, the whole setup will be ready to be painted after a day or two.


The caulk is not as old as the window glazing putty. We’ve been using the putty for generations, as opposed to the caulk which was only produced about 50 years ago. And not even all the different varieties of caulk, in case you were wondering. Just the original ones: the silicone and acrylic latex caulk.

Long story short, if it’s a question of longevity, we would go for the window glazing putty. It will certainly serve you for a lifetime.

Ease of Application

Compared to the caulk, the window glazing putty is very easy to apply. Especially when it comes to creating an edge that looks neat and inconspicuous. Moreover, it only requires a simple-looking putty knife or makeshift tool. With the caulk, the application can only be done using a gun that kind of makes the process a lot more complicated.


The worst mistake that you could ever make is to apply putty to your frames and completely forget about it. You must maintain it by applying linseed oil every seven or so years. The oil is meant to keep it flexible enough to deal with all the extreme weather elements it’s exposed to on a daily basis.

The lifecycle of the caulk is 10 years max. It doesn’t matter if you’re using silicone caulk, latex, caulks, or even oil-based asphalt. Once that 10-year period elapses, you’ll start seeing the signs of wear and tear all over.

Casement Windows

The way casement windows have been designed makes it difficult to use caulks on them. That groove of theirs is just too wide for caulks to fill. If you decide to force the product in there, it will never heal the way it’s supposed to, and eventually fall off.

You should use the window glazing putty because it doesn’t stall with the healing process even when it’s applied to a greater thickness.

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That’s all we had for you today, guys. We hope this article was enough to help you make up your mind, or at least learn something you didn’t know was important. As we said before, you could always reach out with any question. Your responses are the reason we love what we do.

Featured Image Credit: Left: Window Glazing Putty (jocic, Shutterstock) | Right: Window Caulking (Halfpoint, Shutterstock)


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