It can be a challenge to find the right caulk that checks off every box… To truly do a great job for your customer on a kitchen or bath job, you need a sealant that will last, that will hold up to moisture, and that doesn’t take away from the aesthetic. Contractors are often forced to make a sacrifice when it comes to using a caulk product: Perhaps it has the waterproofing property required for a job, but can’t be painted to match its surroundings. So, what’s the solution? Is there a paintable, water-resistant caulk with great elasticity that can meet all your needs?
Typically, you’ll have to choose between latex, which is paintable and easier to tool, and silicone, which has good adhesion and water resistance. Neither of these cover all of the bases, but we’ve got good news for you: there are newer technologies that offer a better way.
Using Acrylic-Latex Caulk
The biggest advantages to acrylic-latex caulks are that they are easier to clean up and that they are paintable when the job requires it. Acrylic-latex caulks can have a quick dry time and often tend to be inexpensive.
Where most latex caulks on the market come up short is their performance under pressure (literally). When joints and gaps are subject to changes in temperature or weight, they expand and contract. They lack elasticity and stretch. Over time, regular latex products harden so that, instead of bending with the gap, they crack or pull away from the substrate and break the seal. When this happens, the caulk becomes useless and has to be scraped away and reapplied.
By now, you might be used to the complications that come with applying/re-applying silicone: lack of scraping away at old caulk residue, applying the silicone carefully to keep the finished project looking good, not being able to paint it, and crossing your fingers in hope that it won’t yellow over time, which would require painstaking removal. For a product that’s been around for decades, silicone surely does come with a lot of complications for both the contractor and the crew.
Silicone Cannot Be Painted
Silicone’s inability to be painted can really hamper the potential for a well-designed project. It typically comes in clear or white, which doesn’t always match a room’s overall design or aesthetic. You’ve probably debated with your team between using paintable acrylic or more flexible silicone since it seems impossible to find the best of both worlds. You also might have tried to paint silicone caulk before, and while oil-based paints can appear to cover the caulking when initially applied, it begins to flake and peel right off the surface once dry.
Silicone also has a tendency to leach plasticizers, the compounds that allow it stay flexible. This occurs after the silicone cures and interferes with nearby paint’s abilities to adhere to other porous substances like siding. All in all, silicone makes painting a no-go.
When it comes down to it, silicone technology is actually pretty outdated. Silicone does not adhere to all surfaces. It does not have great elasticity. It is difficult when repairs are needed (you have to scrape it out and reapply). It can lead to the “zipper” effect and tear out of a joint. It doesn’t hold up to scouring pads or strong cleansers, making it difficult for the homeowner to clean. Fortunately there are newer, better-performing technologies on the market that are easier for your team to work with and that are also better for the design. In particular, we’d like to recommend copolymer-based rubber sealants, which adhere to almost anything, just like silicone, and are also (wait for it) paintable.
So What do You do When You Need a High-Performance, Custom-Color Waterproof Sealant?
When you need a sealant that does the job without sticking out like a sore thumb from the color scheme and design of your project, consider a copolymer-based rubber sealant. This type of sealant is completely waterproof (in fact, it can even be applied to wet surfaces!) and is just as flexible as silicone. Unlike silicone, it’s also paintable. Paint can even help extend the lifespan of the copolymers, ensuring a job that lasts and looks good.
The only limitation that comes with using copolymer-based rubber sealant for a job is when you’re using oil-based paints to finish the project. These sealants cure by releasing solvents over their cure time, which lasts for an extended 10-14 day period. If the sealant is painted before it released all of these solvents, it will interfere with the cure time of the oil-based paint. However, if you’re able to work on a timeline that allows for the sealant to cure after application for up to 14 days before you come back to paint it, you won’t have a problem.
Lexel is the Paintable Solution to Interior and Exterior Jobs
Our copolymer solution for contractors who face the woes of silicone is Lexel®. It’s a high-performance, paintable sealant made from copolymer-based rubber that has the adhesion and elasticity outperform any silicone product.
Lexel® seals around anything and can be used for both exterior and interior jobs, which makes it a great all-purpose product to keep around. Use it for tubs and shower stalls in your bathroom and kitchen sinks and countertops, window frames, door frames, siding, brick, PVC, and metal pipes.
We engineered Lexel® to work for both inside and outside jobs for places where long-lasting elasticity is especially important. It has maximum stretch for joint movement without becoming unstuck or cracking. You can even apply it to wet surfaces. It won’t budge or discolor from harsh cleaners, scrubbing, or prolonged sun exposure.
Lexel® fills the performance gap that exists between commonly used caulk products today. It’s tough and it can look good. Its seal is 19 times clearer than silicone and it won’t yellow over time. Best of all, you’ll be able to custom match the color to its surroundings so that it blends right in while doing its job.
We think that Lexel® is the new-and-improved standard for a tough elastic sealant that can get almost any job done. It does everything that silicone does and more: it’s sticky, fearless in any extreme weather or temperature, and its paintable ability allows you to customize to match the color scheme and materials of the space.
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This month's training tip comes directly from a question we received recently.