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How Bad Caulk Can Ruin Great Paint

Why proper caulking is so important

how bad caulk can ruin great paint

Caulking is an important element of painting and is one of the most frequently used products in our daily operations. Caulk (or sealant) is mold, and mildew resistant, so it’s great for sealing off gaps in damp places like the bathroom or kitchen. We use it to seal cracks and gaps around windows, trim, and doors to help regulate the temperature of a home by reducing drafts and to keep water out.

Using quality caulk is essential! Like paint, each brand has different lines with varying grades of quality and you do not want to just go with the cheap stuff. Other painters may try to cut costs here, but you’re going to end up paying that price down the line.


Did you know using the wrong caulk could take 5 years off your paint job?

how bad caulk can ruin great paint

A lot of the time, we’re called on to repaint a house, not because the paint failed on its own, but because the previous painters used low-grade sealant and it compromised the paint long before it would have naturally needed updating. This happens when a weak caulk fails and raises off of the edges it’s supposed to keep sealed, which allows water to seep into the paint.

Damage can also occur when the wrong caulk was used. A high-quality kitchen sealant used in an outdoor space will still give you issues with cracking, as it wasn’t designed to stand up to the contracting of joints and beams that occur with various weather conditions.

The last thing you want is to invest in high-quality paint and then see it ruined by water damage, years before its time, all because of improper caulking that could have kept the damage at bay, had the right materials been used. We’re here to steer you away from the weak stuff and let you in on what the professionals use.

A fair option if you want to go cheap


Sherwin-Williams 950A Siliconized Acrylic Latex Caulk

how bad caulk can ruin great paint

Retail price: $2.49 per tube

950A is a basic caulk and the one most people reach for during simple projects. This is not necessarily our first choice, but it’s a good option for homes that need minor work. It’s certainly more durable and easier to use than Home Depot’s Alex Plus (a product you should avoid), and you can feel the difference between its thickness and adhesion. Paint will actually stick to it, rather than trying to move off of it as soon as contact is made.


Professional painters use this sealant

PowerHouse Siliconized Acrylic Latex Sealant

how bad caulk can ruin great paint

Retail price: $3.39 per tube

This is our go-to caulk. It covers all the basics – trim, doors, interior, siding, facia, and exterior trim. Because it was designed to withstand the expansion and contraction of joints with the heat ad cold of the seasons, this product has a great, flexible quality that holds up for a long time. Since we warranty our work, we want to use the good stuff and this is that stuff!


Specialty sealant for fluctating temperatures

Sherwin Williams MAXFLEX Acrylic Urethane Elastomeric Sealant

Sherwin-Williams MAXFLEX Acrylic Urethane Elastomeric Sealant

how bad caulk can ruin great paint

Retail price: $3.69

You can use this caulking around stucco and other areas like the kitchen and bathrooms. It offers more flexibility to areas that tend to expand in heat and fluctuate in cold. A lot of people ask if this can be used on siding and it could, but it’s probably a little overkill because siding won’t expand the way other surfaces, like stucco, will.

Improper use of caulk can cause additional work


Supreme Silicone Kitchen & Bath Sealant – Cartridge

how bad caulk can ruin great paint

Retail price: $9.98 per tube

So many people use this product in areas that they shouldn’t. It’s good for kitchens and baths, areas that have a lot of exposure to water and won’t require any paint – you can’t paint over these. The paint will actually move away from the caulking or bead up and leave you with bald spots.

If a customer ever uses this to caulk an area we’re going to paint before we come in, we actually have to sand it down and put oil-based primer on top of it, so we can then paint over it. Essentially it creates a lot of unnecessary work when it’s used where it shouldn’t be.


So what is the best caulk for your project?

This isn’t an area of home improvement where you’re going to save much money by going for the cheapest option. On average, as professional painters, we use about 24 tubes of caulking per house. At $2. per tube versus $4. a tube, we’d only be saving ourselves about $20.00 – $30.00 per project if we went with the lowest cost, but the drastic difference in quality could take 5 years off of that paint by letting in water damage.

I think we can agree that spending an extra $20. now is better than spending $300. right around the corner. For that reason, we always choose quality, and we encourage you to do the same.

There are a lot of options for sealant out there and getting the right one really depends on your needs. Our best advice? Know what project you’re working on, read labels, and buy the proper caulk for the situation.

Founder Steven Montgomery & GM Allan Alarcon talk caulk on Paint Talk

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