These were also our top criteria for selecting the best caulk.
If you want to get to your project right away, DAP, scored high in all of these criteria and was selected as “Best Overall” by our editorial team.
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Caulk Buying Guide
Factors to Consider
There are several factors that you need to look at to determine what kind of caulk you need. It may vary from job to job, but overall if you ask yourself these questions regarding your project before you buy, you will not purchase the wrong kind of caulk.
- What materials are you caulking? – Certain caulks will adhere better to certain surfaces than others, so make sure you take that into consideration when you are looking at different caulks.
- Moisture – Are you caulking an area that is wet or moist more than it is dry – such as around a rub or sink? Make sure you get a caulk that is waterproof and highly resistant to mildew, mold and water.
- Temperature – Are you caulking an area that is exposed to extreme heat or cold? Look for caulk that can be used in all temperatures, especially if you are caulking outside and the caulk will be exposed to changing and extreme temperatures.
- Location – The area you are caulking is also an important factor to consider. If you are caulking outdoors, choose a caulk that can hold up to the elements and handle movement in the joints of whatever it is you have caulked.
- Paintable – Some caulks cannot be painted over so if you need the caulk to be paintable, make sure you have determined this before purchase. Most caulks can be painted over but it is always best to check ahead of time.
- Application/ Ease of Use – Some caulks can be cleaned up easily with water but there are others that will require the use of chemical solvents. You also want to take into consideration any odor the caulk might have while curing. Some may release noxious fumes and require that no one is in the area while it is curing. All these things are important to look at when choosing a caulk. Knowing as much about your project and needs as you can before you purchase will prevent you from wasting money on caulk that you can’t use or that won’t be appropriate for your job.
Selecting the Right Caulk
Knowing the kind of caulk you need for the job you are doing saves money, time and improves your results. There are several different kinds of caulks available to choose from. We have listed the different types of caulk below along with the jobs they are best suited for. We have also provided some information about the characteristics and benefits of the different caulks as well.
- Latex – Latex caulk also goes by the name of vinyl sealant, vinyl caulk and acrylic caulk. This water based caulk is the least expensive of the different caulks available and is the easiest to use as well. It can handle the largest range of applications and doesn’t contain any volatile chemicals.
This means that you can get it on your hands and clean up with soap and water without any problems. Latex caulk can be painted and they are also available in a variety of pre-tinted varieties as well. There are two sub categories that latex caulk falls into: inexpensive acrylic caulk and siliconized latex.
If you are working on an area that won’t be exposed to a lot of temperature changes or high moisture levels, this is the caulk that will work fine for the job. This could include sealing interior trim, doors and windows. Siliconized latex has a small amount of silicone-based product in it to improve the adhesion rate. It is not the same as pure silicone caulk and doesn’t perform as well either.
- Silicone – Silicone caulks remain flexible regardless of what the temperature does and they are 100% waterproof as well. They are highly resistant to mildew growth and bond well to almost every surface imaginable. Because of their resistance to mold and mildew growth, silicone caulks are most often used in kitchens, bathrooms and other high moisture areas.
There are two types of silicone caulks: acid cure and neutral cure. If you are working with nonporous surfaces like glazed tile or glass, you would want to choose an acid cure silicone caulk. You do need to watch it though because acid cured caulks can corrode metal and leave etchings in some plastic surfaces.
If you are working with metal and wood, neutral cure silicone caulk is a good choice. Silicone caulks are very strong but they are not without some drawbacks. With a few exceptions, you cannot paint over them. And, if you don’t do a good job the first time and need to re-caulk, the old residue is nearly impossible to remove. They are also not the easiest to smooth out.
- Polyurethane – This type of caulk is best-suited for outdoor projects. Benefits to polyurethane caulk are that it is tear resistant, will stick to almost any surface, and is non-corrosive as well. This is a good choice for sealing joints made of two different materials such as metal to concrete or wood to concrete. Poly caulk is not resistant to UV rays so be sure to paint or protect exterior joints where it has been used.
Tooling the joints is easier with poly caulk than it is with silicone but it does not beat the ease of use that latex caulk affords. Polyurethane caulk is the most expensive of all the different caulks. Wherever you need superior strength, weatherproofing and durability is where you should use this type of caulk.
There are many different specialty caulks available for specific jobs in addition to the regular latex and silicone caulks. All purpose caulk works well for most situations, but if you are doing a specific project, you may want to invest in a caulk that has been designed with that particular project in mind. This will always reap the best results. Some examples of specialty caulks may include:
- Blacktop asphalt sealant
- Caulk specifically for windows and doors
- Mortar caulk that is designed to handle high heat
- Kitchen and bath caulk that contains mildew and mold fighting properties
- Roof sealant to stop gaps that is highly waterproof
- Caulk that contains a special additive that has the rating that it can block fire
Caulk is not a difficult product to purchase when you understand a little bit about how it works and what the differences are. There are many jobs that can come up that require the use of caulk, so knowing how to purchase the right product will save you money and headache in the future.
The information in this buyer’s guide was designed to help you understand the different types of caulk and how to choose which one you want to purchase for your caulking projects. It is always better to take the extra time to research and not end up with a product you are unhappy with.
Being prepared with the right information that will help you take care of the different caulking jobs around your home will make the whole purchase much easier. You will know exactly what to look for.