Caulk & Sealants
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Caulk and sealants for long-lasting results
As both caulk and sealants are used for sealing and filling gaps between materials, they are often used interchangeably. With that said, there are several key differences that sets them apart and makes them better suited for separate purposes. Be sure to use the correct product for a long-lasting result.
There are a wide range of caulk and sealant options on the market and it’s therefor important to know their characteristics and for what purposes they are best suited.
The difference between sealants and caulk
The main difference between the two is elasticity. As caulk is made from a mix of latex and acrylic component, when cured it’s more rigid and prone to shrinking than sealants.
The sealant contains silicone and can easily contract and expand with temperature changes without losing its sealing effect. They are also water-resistant and non-yellowing, meaning it will look fresh for much longer.
Because of this, caulk is mostly used to seal construction cracks, and sealants are used to connect surfaces together that are of different materials. The type of sealant to be used is based on the materials that you are planning to seal, the temperature range and if the area will be exposed to moist.
The one main draw-back with using a sealant is that it’s not paintable, but at the same time they are available in a big variety of colors. It’s also not possible to apply a second layer as it wont stick, it needs a clean surface for it to adhere properly. When applying, it also has a stronger smell and it’s more complicated to remove than caulk.
Caulk on the other hand can be painted and provides a harder surface when dried, because of this, it doesn’t provide good elasticity for adjusting to moist or temperature changes. It can easily be removed with water when it’s still wet and is therefore easier to work with, but as it dries fast, it can shrink or crack so normally a second layer to fix these imperfections is needed.
When to use a silicone sealant
The silicone sealant is ideal for moist interiors but also exteriors as it’s extremely weather resistant and has antimicrobial properties that prevents the growth of mildew and mold. It’s also UV-resistant, meaning it will seal surfaces that are exposed to sunlight for longer.
As it has great water-resistant properties, and is therefore it’s a great choice for bathroom and kitchen applications but also for sealing doors and windows.
When to use an acrylic-latex caulk
The acrylic-latex caulk is a water-based product that is easy to work with and clean up. But because of its moderate level of water resistance, it’s better suited for use inside applications where it won’t be exposed to too much moist. It has great adhesion to the most common building materials and is frequently used for finishing trim and moldings, sealing and repairing wall and ceiling fixtures but also securing loose tiles.
When to use a hybrid caulk
When you want a combination of the easy to work with caulk and the great sealing properties of a sealant, there are hybrid versions available. They are called siliconized acrylic-latex caulks and provides the waterproof properties that adjusts to temperature changes while they, at the same time dry quickly and are easy to apply and clean up.
It can be used to seal bathtubs and showers, exterior siding, and backsplashes.
When to use a foam sealant
When you want to fill bigger gaps and crack around your home you have the option of using an insulating foam sealant. This is a polyurethane foam that when applied, expands, and seals the area where its’ sprayed. This sealant should be used when you need a weather resistant and airtight seal, for example in gaps by windows or door frames that could result in unwanted pests and rodents to enter but also increased utility bills because of the air leakage.
Using a foam sealant can be quite messy and it’s important to clean it up while it’s still wet, as dried you must scrape or sand it off a surface. It’s easiest to clean with an acetone, you can find this in an acetone-based nail polish remover which will work great for the cleanup.
And if you would need to cut away any excess foam, you do this easiest with a serrated bread knife, when the foam has completely cured.