Tubs and Showers

Types of Caulk and Where to Use Them

A person applying caulk around the base of a toilet.

Selecting the right type of caulk for your home project can feel a lot like walking down the cereal aisle at a grocery store. There are nearly endless types of caulk to choose from for a multitude of purposes. But unlike cereal, there is a right and wrong option. That’s because caulk has many uses, so selecting the right type will depend on your project, surface, experience, home needs, and even manufacturer recommendations.

So, if you’re feeling lost figuring out what types of caulk for a shower, bathtub, toilet, kitchen, or other home projects are best, don’t worry! We’ll help you feel more informed before you step down the caulk aisle. Follow this helpful guide to learn more about the various types of caulk and where to use them around the home.

Different Types of Caulk and Their Uses

Types of Caulk

  • Latex caulk
  • Adhesive caulk
  • Fireproof caulk
  • Butyl-rubber caulk
  • Foam caulk
  • Polyurethane caulk
  • Solvent-based caulk
  • Hybrid caulk
  • Silicone caulk

Uses for Caulk

  • Sealing around plumbing fixtures to prevent leaks, water damage, or mold growth.
  • Sealing around exterior trim to prevent water from entering the home.
  • Sealing cracks or damage on gutters, trim, or siding.
  • Sealing cracks in concrete or masonry.
  • Sealing joints for interior trim.

Related Content: Home Plumbing Maintenance Checklist

How To Select the Right Caulk

Choosing the right type of caulk for plumbing or repair projects around the home isn’t as simple as it may seem. Not only are there many types of caulk when it comes to their material makeup, but there are also several brands, colors, features, and manufacturer recommendations to consider.

For example, when it comes to selecting the right bathroom caulk, you’ll have to consider its durability, mold resistance, color (for stylistic purposes), drying time, adhesion, ease of use, and manufacturer recommendations.

Below, we’ve provided some general recommendations for what type of caulk to use for various small DIY or repair projects. For more intensive projects or installations, we recommend calling a professional for the job.

How to Apply Caulk

When replacing the caulk in your bathroom, around your kitchen sink, or along interior trim, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the right caulk based on the material you’re applying it to and water resistance needs.
  2. Remove the old caulk using a utility knife.
  3. Wipe down the area and wait for it to dry completely before applying the new caulk.
  4. Use painter's tape to map a line for the caulk.
  5. Insert the caulk into a caulking gun, and the tip just above the indentation point.
  6. Apply the caulk to the designated area, ensuring there are no gaps in the caulk line.
  7. Wet your finger or cloth, or use a caulk finishing tool, and wipe along the caulk line to remove the excess.
  8. Peel off the painter’s tape and allow the caulk to dry for at least 24 hours.

For any area of the home, before you apply a new coat of caulk, always check for signs of mold or water damage. If you spot either, don’t apply caulk over it. Water damage or mold in the home is a serious issue that requires professional attention. Count on our sister brands, DRYMedic for water damage restoration and STOP Restoration for water or mold damage services.

Caulking a Shower

It depends on the type of material you’re caulking, but usually, for showers, you’ll want to use a silicone or acrylic latex caulk. Silicone caulk will be durable, but it can be difficult to smooth out and can be finicky about the type of surface it’s applied to. If you’re a beginner learning how to caulk a shower, acrylic latex will be more DIY-friendly because it’s more forgiving to apply. The downside is that it likely won’t last as long as pure silicone caulk.

Related Content: Why Does Bathroom Grout Crack?

Caulking a Bathtub

Similar to a shower, the best type of caulk for bathtubs is a silicone sealant caulk. This is because it will prevent water damage, leaks, or mold growth. A silicone caulk is also very flexible, which makes it ideal for the rapid temperature and humidity changes in a bathroom.

Caulk Around a Toilet

Using the right caulk around your toilet helps prevent leaks, keeps the toilet secure, and prevents odors from getting trapped. This is why knowing what type of caulk for a toilet base is best, and applying it properly is so important. For most toilets, the recommendation is silicone caulk. Latex or acrylic caulk won’t usually be durable enough to keep the toilet stable and safe from leaks.

Caulking a Kitchen Sink

Like your bathroom plumbing, your kitchen sink requires a sturdy, but flexible, waterproof caulk. However, it also depends on the type of sink you have. For metal or stainless steel sinks, usually, a silicone caulk will adhere best. For porcelain sinks, however, you’ll probably want to use a latex caulk.

Caulking Interior Trim

For interior trim, you should use a more flexible and easy-to-clean caulk like acrylic latex. Choose one that says “paintable” on the package. This caulk can also be used to fill in small drywall holes or cracks; just be sure to thoroughly clean and sand before applying any paint touchups.

If you have more extensive drywall damage or need more thorough painting services, count on Color World Painting for interior painting services and add-on drywall repair.

Caulking Exterior Concrete and Masonry

To properly seal any minor cracks in concrete flooring, walkways, or siding, you’ll want to use a specialty caulk or concrete sealant specifically designed for this work. Usually, butyl-rubber-based caulk is best because of its elasticity, but it’s best to check with a professional. For minor cracks, you can follow the same steps listed above. For other exterior siding, trim, roofing, and gutters, you can use a hybrid or solvent-based caulk because they’re waterproof, flexible, and durable.

Get Professional Plumbing Installation with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing

When it comes to DIY caulking, small replacement projects are perfectly doable. But for any extensive plumbing installation or replacement projects, always call the pros! At Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, our licensed plumbers are here to help with any shower, bathtub, or sink replacement or installation services you may need. Call us at 1-877-BEN-1776 or book an appointment online.

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