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There is now a wide range of liquid and mastic sealants available for all sorts of waterproofing and repair jobs. Make sure you select the correct type of product for the job in hand, and always read the manufacturer's instructions and safety advice carefully before using it.
Flat roofs don't last for ever, and can eventually develop porous patches that are difficult to detect. They are also prone to localised blistering and cracking. You can tackle porous felt by giving it a coat or two of Wickes' liquid bitumen-based Waterproofer for Roofs, and repair blisters and cracks with Roof & Gutter Sealant, a tub mastic which you simply trowel into place.
If rising or penetrating damp is your problem, Wickes has two damp sealants you can turn to. The first is Liquid Dampproof Membrane, a heavy-duty coating for floors and basement walls. The second is Interior Damp Sealant, which will stop problems such as condensation in disused flues from affecting your decorations.
When it comes to keeping masonry dry, choose the product to match the application. Water Seal will waterproof walls, Drive Seal will keep block paver drives looking good and Paving & Patio Seal will do the same for light-traffic surfaces.
With all these products, check the coverage on the container before buying, to ensure that you have enough to complete the job.
There's an ever-increasing range of different sealants available in cartridge form. Indoors, two of the most useful are Decorator's Filler and Bath & Kitchen Seal. The former is an acrylic-based filler that's ideal for filling persistent gaps and cracks - along skirting boards, round door architraves and into wall/ceiling angles. The latter is a white or clear silicone sealant that's perfect for waterproofing around sinks, baths and shower trays. Its flexibility makes it ideal for use along the rear edge of kitchen worktops too, where any slight movement of the units below can open up a gap between the worktop and tiled walls.
Outdoors, the most widely used product is probably Outdoor Frame Sealant, which as its name implies seals the joint between door and window frames and the surrounding masonry. It's available in white, brown and natural shades to match your colour scheme. There's also a special version formulated for use with PVCu windows. And for high performance in exposed areas, Wickes' Ultimate Sealant is the answer. It can also be used as an adhesive, and can be overpainted once it has skinned over.
When it comes to glazing, you can choose between Glazier's Putty for installing single panes and Double Glazing Sealant for new glazing units (note that this product is not recommended for use with PVCu windows, however).
Up on the roof, Roof & Gutter sealant will tackle cracks and tears in roofing felt, and deal with cracked or leaking gutters and joints too.
Lastly, there's a clear All Weather Sealant that is ideal for many other general purpose sealing tasks - waterproofing around the base of outside light fittings, for example.
Outdoors, applying sealant neatly is not a high priority. So long as the bead is continuous and is well bonded to both surfaces, it will do its job perfectly. But indoors you'll want sealant beads to look neat and unobtrusive, especially around bathroom fittings and along the rear edge of kitchen worktops. The secret of success is to use masking tape. Stick it to both surfaces, 2 to 3mm from the internal angle. Then cut the cartridge nozzle at a 45° angle to give a bead that's just wide enough to fill the angle between the two tape edges.
To start the flow of sealant, apply gentle pressure by squeezing the trigger. As soon as the sealant appears at the tip of the nozzle, place it in the angle with the nozzle held at 45° to the wall. Push it along the angle, allowing the nozzle to shape the sealant bead into a neat concave curve. Leave it to skin over for a while, then peel off the masking tape.
1. Stick masking tape along both sides of the angle you want to seal.
2. Push the nozzle along the join so its underside forms the sealant bead into a concave shape.
3. When the sealant has skinned over, peel off the tape to leave a perfectly formed bead.