A Few Tips On Selecting The Right Caulk
With such a wide variety of sealants now available, choosing the right caulking for the right job can be tricky. Fortunately, most home repairs can be accomplished without being an expert. Just a few different materials are enough to tackle most household chores.
Because of its unique characteristics, 100% silicone is the most useful of all household caulks. Building materials expand and contract with changing temperature and moisture content. Many caulks fail because the material it is applied to expands and contracts at a different rate than the caulking. This causes the sealant to lose its adhesion and crack. In contrast, silicone caulk has a flexible consistency. It moves as the material it is applied to moves, thus resisting failure.
Silicone caulking retains this flexibility for many years. In addition, silicone caulking is waterproof making it an excellent choice for high moisture areas.
Although it is a great product, silicone caulking does have its limitations. Paint does not adhere to pure silicone. Also, silicone is a little hard to spread. It has a tendency to stick to fingers really well and requires a bit of practice to apply evenly.
Silicone caulking is particularly useful when sealing bathtubs and shower stalls. These areas undergo extremes temperature changes and receive an abundance of moisture. Silicone caulking is ideal for this application. Also, silicone caulking comes in a variety of colors to match a wide variety of materials.
Silicone caulks are available with a variety of additives, such as mildew inhibitors, for different applications. Choose the right one for the job at hand.
Tubs and showers are by no means the only areas where silicone caulking comes in handy. I have used it many times on kitchen countertops and outdoors in areas that I am not going to paint.
When cost or ease of application is important, acrylic latex caulking may be right for you. Latex caulking is less than half as expensive as silicone caulking. It also flows and spreads easily and cleans up with warm water.
Being paint-able, latex caulking works great around wood trim prior to finishing. It does; however, hold up better indoors than out. This is because latex caulking is not as rugged or elastic as caulks containing silicone.
Latex caulking is also available for tub and tile work. It is easy to apply but keep in mind that latex gets hard with age. I have had to chisel old latex caulking from around bathtubs in order to apply new caulking.
Siliconized latex caulking was designed to retain the benefits of both silicone and acrylics. It flows well and is easy to cleanup but retains its flexibility. Because it remains elastic for some time, I use it outside with excellent results.
There are many other caulks available for specialized applications. Always read the label instructions before applying any sealant. It contains a wealth of information and, more importantly, list any safety concerns.