7 Important Things You Need to Know About Silicone Caulking Before You Use it

Silicone caulking is a waterproof sealer. It’s most useful for sealing around bathroom fixtures, shower and tub surrounds, tiles, sinks, windows, doors- anywhere you need to block water and moisture out. While silicone caulking is more invincible than other types- some manufacturers offer a 50-year durability guarantee- it’s also a bit harder to use. Read this informative article and learn 7 important things you need to know about silicone caulking before you use it!

Note: Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions on cartridges and tubes of silicone caulking before use. Heed the cautions and warnings as well.

1. Choose the Right Color of Silicone Caulking Since It Usually Can’t Be Painted

Due to its composition, silicone caulking cures to become rather oily and rubbery. Most brands can’t be painted. If you try to cover it, the paint looks thin and streaky. That’s why, when you buy silicone caulking, you need to choose the best color for the job. There are several colors available such as white, brown, bronze and black. Clear silicone caulking goes with everything and becomes nearly invisible after it cures.

There are some brands of silicone caulking on the market today that can be painted over once it has cured. So if you want to paint silicone caulking to match the surface it’s adhered to, be sure you choose one of these brands.

2. Prepare the Surface So the Silicone Caulking Adheres Properly

Silicone caulking is sticky, but it doesn’t adhere to the same type of caulking once it’s cured. It may be tempting to just cover over existing silicone caulking, but it won’t stay put. The existing caulking needs to be removed first. Carefully use a utility knife or a razor blade to cut and loosen it. Then, pull the silicone caulking off.

If the the surface is smooth, such as around tiles or a bathtub, wipe over it with rubbing alcohol to clean off any leftover residue.

3. Use Silicone Caulking in a Well-Ventilated Area

Another important thing you need to know about silicone caulking before you use it is, if it’s applied inside, the area needs to be well-ventilated. Silicone caulking gives off a vinegar smell as it cures because it contains acetic acid. The more you use, of course, the stronger the smell is. If you caulk an entire bathtub and surround, for example, it’s going to stink like crazy. The fumes can cause respiratory irritation, especially in persons who are sensitive to solvent odors. To help reduce the odors even more, you can choose to use a low-odor silicone caulking.

4. Cut the Silicone Caulking Cartridge or Tube Tip So It’s Small

I learned from personal experience that you don’t cut the tip of the cartridge or tube so it’s real wide, even if you have a big gap to fill. If you do, you’ll likely end up with more silicone caulking oozing out than you need. This is especially true if you use a caulking gun.

Cut the tip off so the stream of caulking is thin. It will be easier to control. If one pass isn’t enough, simply go over it again.

5. Apply Silicone Caulking Quickly

Silicone caulking takes twenty-four hours to cure. However, it begins to dry soon after it has been applied. Once it forms a skin, it’s hard to smooth out bumps and high spots. That’s why it’s important to apply silicone caulking quickly.

6. Silicone Caulking Can’t Be Cleaned Up With Soap and Water

Clean-up any spills or messes immediately before the caulking sets up. Since silicone caulking can’t be removed by using soap and water, you’ll need to use other methods to clean-up. A razor blade can remove it from glass and other smooth, hard surfaces. Scrape with the blade carefully so you don’t scratch or gouge surfaces. You can also use a little rubbing alcohol to remove silicone caulking from your fingertips.

If you get this sealer on rugs, carpets or clothing, use a clean, old rag to pick up the worst of it. Don’t wipe it or the silicone caulking will smear

Then, rub a few drops of dishwashing liquid into the material until the caulking releases. It then can be cleaned up.

7. No Smoking In a Room Until Silicone Caulking Has Completely Cured

The directions on a cartridge or tube of this type of caulking generally say to leave it undisturbed for twenty-four hours. If you caulk around a bathtub, for example, you can’t use it for an entire day until it cures and becomes waterproof. What these directions won’t tell you, though, is if you or another member of your household smokes tobacco, don’t light up in a room where silicone caulking has just been used. If you do, the caulking will pick up the tar and nicotine from the air and turn it a yellowish-brown color. Once silicone caulking becomes discolored (even from mold or mildew) there’s no way to clean it. Your only alternative is to replace it.

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