How to Select the Right Caulk for the Job

  • 01 of 05

    So What type of Caulk Do You Need?

    caulk tube
    Different caulks are used for different purposes around the home. Fotolia

    OK, you've decided you need to caulk and you're at the hardware store to make your purchase. You now face this wall of caulk tubes that all look alike.

    Lets' take a look at what caulk to select for any general home repair project:

    Also read How to Caulk Like a Pro.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Acrylic Latex Caulk

    acrylic latex caulk tube
    Acrylic latex caulk. DAP

    Acrylic Latex Caulk:

    Acrylic latex caulk is the general purpose workhorse. It's inexpensive, fast drying and can be painted. Another nice feature is that since it's latex based, you have water clean up. Don't ask it to fill larger cracks though. It's best used for caulking around wood trim and thin joints in dry areas.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Vinyl Latex Caulk

    vinyl latex caulk tube
    Vinyl latex caulk. DAP

    Vinyl Latex Caulk:

    Unlike acrylic latex, vinyl latex caulk can be used in wet areas. Actually it performs well in wet areas and is of course waterproof. It has great adhesion properties but is a bit more expensive than acrylic latex caulk. It's OK to use for tubs and showers.

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Silicone Caulk

    silicone caulk tube
    Silicone caulk. DAP

    Silicone Caulk:

    This is the premium caulk for jobs exposed to water. Silicone caulk is expensive but worth the cost due to its flexibility and long life.

    • Silicone has outstanding adhesion and flexure characteristics coupled with long life.
    • It also is mildew resistant, watertight, won't yellow or discolor.
    • The caulk of choice for showers, tubs and other areas exposed to water.
    • Typically cannot be painted but some companies have come out with paintable silicone.
    • Unlike acrylic caulks, silicone is...MORE not water clean up, so you will use rubbing alcohol during the application to clean your finger or the tube tip.

    Silicone also releases ammonia during curing so you should work in a ventilated area.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Butyl Rubber Caulk

    butyl rubber caulk
    Butyl Rubber Caulk. White Lightning

    Butyl Rubber Caulk:

    This type of caulk is primarily for outdoor use. It's a great sealant for storm windows and doors, downspout and gutter seams. It also fills larger joints well when used with a caulking rod or backer rod.