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Silicone vs. Latex Caulk

ranchodiablo's picture

Hi

I've finished tiling and grouting the walls around my bathtub all the way up to the ceiling. It looks pretty good. Now I'm about to apply the caulk along the tub, the joint at the ceiling and the inside corners (and oh yeah, around the window that is in the tub area).

Should I use Latex or go with Silicone? Which is better and why? Any special tips or tricks when doing this (I read here not long ago to use Windex when working with silicone, huh?)?

Really appreciate the help.

(post #86472, reply #1 of 20)

I know some guys like silicone but I don't use it for anything. Hate the stuff. No caulk will last forever around a tub and silicone is just that much harder to remove when it needs replacing. I use siliconized latex.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

(post #86472, reply #2 of 20)

Silicone is harder to spread and seems more prone to mold and mildew.  It also leave a residue when removed.  I never use the stuff anymore.


Siliconized latex, on the other hand, performs well, better than plain latex.

(post #86472, reply #4 of 20)

While silicone is flexible and long-lasting if applied right, its big drawback for me is that, once cured, it won't stick to itself, and no other caulk will stick to it either.


I've had good luck with DAP's Dynaflex 230. It's a water cleanup formula that is described as "siliconized acrylic latex"--how's that for covering all the bases?


In practice, it has good flexibility, although not as good as silicone. For the joint you're working with, it should do just fine.


And don't you love the 15, 20, 30, and 50 year guarantees they all offer? They all basically say:  "If this stuff is no good, we'll give you more."

(post #86472, reply #12 of 20)

I loved the original GE silicone warranty - send back the orignal empty tube and a copy of the receipt and they will send you a new tube!

(post #86472, reply #3 of 20)

Get one of the latex caulks with a mildewcide in it.


And add me to the list of those who don't like silicone caulks

(post #86472, reply #5 of 20)

Silicone is much better, hands down. Mineral spirits make for better cleanup. Mildew doesn't just grow on silicone caulk. If you have mildew it is more than likely coming from the substrate to which the tile is installed to.

(post #86472, reply #6 of 20)

Have you considered using the grout caulk? If you are using a standard color grout, you should be able to find the match in the big boxes.

Is anybody out there? 

(post #86472, reply #7 of 20)

How about "no caulk at the tub/wall intersection to allow water to drain out?


no retained water = no mold


 


 


A La Carte Government funding... the real democracy.

(post #86472, reply #8 of 20)

As usual, you asked an A/B question and got three answers.

Silicone is much more flexible than plain latex and is more appropriate where different materials meet and are apt to move relative to each other. Around the edges of the tub is a common example -- thermal expansion plus the weight changes in the tub cause considerable movement. Silicone is hard to remove cleanly when replacement is necessary, and you cannot put new caulk over old and have it stick.

Latex has relatively little flex, isn't (without paint) as water-resistant (will absorb moisture and stain), but (unlike most latexes) will take paint. It's easier to remove cleanly when replacement is needed, plus new caulk will stick to old relatively well.

Siliconized latex is a bit more flexible than plan latex but not nearly as flexible as silicone. It is easier to remove (when necessary) than silicone, having most of the attributes of latex.

Mold can form on just about any surface, given enough moisture and soap scum. Generally, "bathtub" silicone caulk contains chemicals to resist mold growth, and does that pretty well. Unfortunately, if silicone is cleaned with products containing chlorine bleach the bleach alters the surface of the caulk, making it much more "attractive" to mold.

There are other forms of caulk (eg, butyl) that may or may not be better than silicone/latex in bathroom use. I've read mixed reports.


The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -John Kenneth Galbraith


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #86472, reply #9 of 20)

I prefer silicone for it's flexablity, but it's a little harder to work with. Some prefer latex because it's easier to remove later, but don't right it shouldn't need removed for a long, long time. Also, silicone isn't that difficult to remove. Latex is a little easier, but not by much.


Mildew is an issue when the shower is not allowed to dry out, like when the curtain or door is always kept shut. Silicone is less likely to grow mold, since it's not porous like latex. Another reason mold grows is when the caulk is not properly bonded to the surface, allowing moisture to get into the edge of it and doens't dry out.


The trick you hear about windex is a bad idea. What they do is apply the right amount of caulk, spray it with windex ( or any other liquid) so it doesn't stick their finger when they wipe it smooth. Problem is, what ever they spray it with also wets the wall, thus preventing the caulk from sticking to the wall.


To get perfect caulk like with silicone, here's what I do: First, I apply exactly the right amount as best I can. Then, when I lightly wipe it with my 'dry' finger, I have a dry rag to wipe the excess off my finger. I wipe about 2 lineal feet at a time and don't wast time because it skins over fast. Also, I only complete one full line before going to the next.


It's hard to keep the 'Lift offs' from happening from one finger swipe to the next. That's where I wet my finger (not spray the whole darn wall) and smooth it out. Also, I use spit on my finger. Someone with more class than I might use clean water.


Note, keep some paint thinner on hand for cleaning up the mess you might make on the first couple of tries, as it may take a little practice.


 


 


 


 


~ Ted W ~


Cheap Tools! - MyToolbox.net
See my work at TedsCarpentry.com

~ Ted W ~

(post #86472, reply #10 of 20)

I usually try to "tool" the caulk with the caulking tip, so that no finger is needed. I feel this produces a nicer looking seam when it works. Unfortunately, the newer caulks seem to have a slightly different (runnier) consistency such that this is harder to do.


The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -John Kenneth Galbraith


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #86472, reply #15 of 20)

Ted W & Dan H

Thank you very much for outlining the pros and cons for each product. I think I'll have to go with a silicone caulk at the top of the tiles where they meet the ceiling and around the window. For the other places -- top of the tub and the inside corners, I think I'll try the siliconized latex because I expect less movement there and the simplicity of the clean up makes it appealing.

Many thanks to all for your expertise.

(post #86472, reply #16 of 20)

Remember when you go to repaint the ceiling that paint will not stick to the silicone you have up there, so you'll be cutting in against that caulk line.  Keep tooling to a minimum..........best yet, no tooling at all.


The window I assume is vinyl or fibreglass and will not require future painting.


A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.


Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.



http://www.quittintime.com/


 

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


(post #86472, reply #17 of 20)

Good Point!

I was planning to lay down a strip of painter's tape to get a clean edge. Does this sound like a good plan or is there a better way?

(post #86472, reply #18 of 20)

I'm of the don't use silicone school for something like this.


Silicone has it's uses but I don't feel this is one of them, tape or not.  If you weren't going to touch it again with paint, I suppose it's not the end of the world.


If I wanted good adhesion, ability to bond to anything and to take movement-I'd use a urethane or Lexel or something like that.  This situation doesn't call for it.  They are not easy to tool.  Urethane has a longer tooling life-Lexel gets snotty right away.


I'd use what you get for the tile-the color matched siliconized latex.  This topic is alot like men's opinion on what's good looking.


Best of luck.


A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.


Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.



http://www.quittintime.com/


 

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


(post #86472, reply #11 of 20)

I used to be a fan of silicone, because it flexes really well, but I have banned it from my house. It gets moldy after a couple years and is very difficult to replace. You spend all day with a razor blade trying to get it all off, and when you try to put new caulk down, it still fails because you missed some of the old silicone residue. The stuff is horrible.

When I tiled my shower last year, I used this relatively new caulk: http://www.sashcosealants.com/Home_Improvement/MildewFree.aspx
It's got an amazing guarantee against mildew. They will actually send a contractor out to re-do the caulk if it fails before 7 years.

It's performed well for a year. Water clean-up, and was easy to apply.

(post #86472, reply #13 of 20)

You spend all day with a razor blade trying to get it all off, and when you try to put new caulk down, it still fails because you missed some of the old silicone residue. The stuff is horrible.


Ditto

Is anybody out there? 

(post #86472, reply #14 of 20)

I've only had trouble with adhesion when I tried to rush the job. Often the failure is due more to soap scum than silicone residue.


The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -John Kenneth Galbraith


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #86472, reply #19 of 20)

How come nobody here has mentioned using polyurethane caulk?


 


WSJ

(post #86472, reply #20 of 20)

I started to, but don't know if there is a mildew resitant product for showers.

~ Ted W ~


Cheap Tools! - MyToolbox.net
See my work at TedsCarpentry.com

~ Ted W ~