Painters Caulk: Choosing The Best Sealant And How To Use It

Painters caulk is a sealant you’ll need at least once in your life. Whether for home repairs, replacing walls, or building a new house, caulk is necessary.

Painters Caulk

Before painting an interior surface, if caulking is required, you’ll need to do that first. This is why it’s important to know how to apply caulk. For exteriors, like brick, do not use painter’s caulk.

Painter’s caulk is a safe choice for small, indoor projects. If you want to improve your DIY skill, then you should work with this. However, caulking is not perfect for every project, and other options exist. Here, we’ll show you what painter’s caulk is and when to use it.  

What Is Painter’s Caulk?

Painter’s caulk is a siliconized acrylic latex caulking compound designed for indoor projects and repairs. It can fill holes, adheres to walls, doors, windows, and unlike paint, it dries within five minutes or less. 

Caulking is easy and doesn’t cost much. However, some caulk is expensive, but even the best painter’s caulk is a steal for small work projects like filling nail holes, covering stucco cracks and working with door joints.

Painter’s caulk doesn’t refer to every type of caulk. Caulk is a sealer made with different materials but applied with a caulking gun and filled with a caulk cartridge. It is perfect for many different things inside your home.

Painter's CaulkView in gallery

How To Use Painter’s Caulk

Painter’s caulk is easy to work with. You apply it with a reusable caulking gun. Cut the top of the nozzle the width of the bead you want to caulk. A bead is the width of the stream. 

When filling larger gaps, cut the nozzle for the smallest gaps to prevent water to getting inside or excess caulk from building up. Then cut a larger one for the next size, and so on. 

After you cut the nozzle, you can begin caulking. Depending on your preference, you can use a damp finger or paper towel to smooth the rough edges or wipe away excess. It takes five minutes to skin, and you can do it as you go. 

Also, put a nail in the tip of the caulk nozzle to keep the caulk from hardening if you set aside for a few minutes. Never leave it alone for more than five minutes even if you “seal” the nozzle. 

When To Use Painter’s Caulk

Because painter’s caulk is affordable, it’s hard not to buy it as your only caulk. To be safe, here are a few reasons to use painter’s caulk.

  • Sealing Joints – sealing small joints is perfect for painter’s caulk. This includes the gaps between wall coverings or rafters. It creates an airtight seal that is easy to work with and provides a smooth texture. 
  • Repairs – painter’s caulk is good for on-hand repairs. It’s known as temporary caulk, which will hold until you buy something stronger.
  • Door And Windows – sealing around doors and windows with painter’s caulk will work. However, it’s best to seal the vertical joints with painter’s caulk and save the moving joints for stronger caulk or sealant.
  • Adhesion – painter’s caulk is an adhesive. Although not as durable as liquid nails, it can hold thin materials together and fill nail holes, for example. 
  • Painting – painter’s caulk is named painter’s caulk for a reason. You can paint over it and it will look great.

When Is Painter’s Caulk A Bad Idea

When Is Painter's Caulk A Bad IdeaView in gallery

Painter’s caulk isn’t always the perfect solution. Depending on the job and size of the project, you’ll need something else. It works well for interior projects, but has its limits.

Here are few jobs when painter’s caulk isn’t the best:

  • Wet Areas – most caulking is not recommended for surfaces exposed to moisture. Instead, you’ll need bathroom caulk that is silicone-based as it resists water after it’s sealed. Painter’s caulk is for indoor dry surfaces that can be painted over.
  • Exterior Surfaces – painter’s caulk is for interior use.  Use silicone-based caulks for exterior surfaces that can withstand rain and harsh temperatures. Also, most exterior caulks don’t need to be painted.
  • Moving Joints – this also includes horizontal joints above doors. Painter’s caulk isn’t strong compared to other caulks and shouldn’t be applied to joints or gaps susceptible to movement.
  • Wide Gaps – if a gap is wider than half an inch, they use a different filler. For example, door frames wouldn’t be good. Painter’s caulk is for small gaps to make surfaces look smooth and aren’t noticeable when painted. Large gaps require stronger elements. 

Related: The Best Spray Foam Insulation Kit

Painter’s Caulk Vs Silicone

Narrowing the types of sealants and gap-fillers can help you decide what you need for your projects. Here, we will help you learn the difference between caulk and sealant, as well as other types of materials. 

Here are the most common types of sealants:

Caulk

Caulk is a broad term used for different sealers. Painter’s caulk is made from acrylic latex, making it good for small, indoor projects. Because of its low price, it’s popular for DIY repairs. With other caulks, the materials below are made with caulk. 

Silicone

The biggest difference between traditional caulk and silicone is how it’s made to keep things watertight. While caulk is good at keeping things airtight, silicone provides a stronger moisture barrier. 

Putty

Putty works more like soft cement than caulk. It is hand-moldable and is made from chalk and oil. Today, the formulas have changed, but the texture and purpose remain the same. For home repairs and wood filler.

Rubber

Synthetic rubber and butyl caulks are durable, resistant to mold/mildew, and can stretch better than any other type of caulk or sealant. Rubber is a versatile sealant with a working memory.

Spray Foam

Spray foams are a common type of sealant that works well for larger gaps to prevent air from flowing through. They don’t prevent water and expand as they cure, making them harder to use. 

Spray foam can be difficult to fully remove so keep in mind that it is permanent. Caulk on the other hand can be removed if done right. Here’s a guide on how to remove caulk

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How Much Does Caulk Cost?

You can get a painter’s caulk for anywhere from $3 to $15 a bottle, depending on the type of caulk you get. But on average, you can expect to pay about 15 cents per linear foot. This means you measure the length of each area you need to caulk and times it by 15. 

Then, take that number and divide it by 60. That’s how much you’ll spend on caulk for an average-priced cartridge. So if you measure your 10×10 room and need to caulk the edge of it, then you will need 40 feet of caulk.

So take 15 times 40 which is 600. Divide that by 60 and you have 10. So you would pay around $10 for most caulk for that room’s perimeter. This formula isn’t guaranteed, but it can give you a good estimate. 

What If The Caulk Doesn't Adhere?

If the caulk you apply keeps sliding or falling off, then it’s probably because of dust, dirt, or debris on the surface. Start over, but before you begin caulking, wash the surface well, then allow it to dry. Then try again. 

Can Asbestos Be Found In Painter's Caulk?

The short answer is that yes it is possible. But only if the caulk was applied prior to 1980. Anything else will be free as asbestos was all but outlawed in the 1970s. So have a professional test any old caulk. 

What Temperature Is Good For Caulk?

As long as it’s not freezing or extremely humid, the caulk can be applied. Anything below 40-degrees isn’t ideal and if it’s very humid, it won’t set right. So make sure it’s a decent temperature and you have a fan blowing if it’s humid. 

Can You Caulk Paint If It's Cold?

Some caulk can only be applied in warm weather which is over 40-degrees Fahrenheit. But most silicone caulk can be applied in cooler weather. The packaging should let you know either way quite clearly. 

How Long Does It Take To Dry?

Most caulks will dry in less than an hour. Though there are a few caulks that can take up to 24-hours to dry. This is rare, so check the label on the cartridge to make sure. Don’t use the area until it is completely dry. 

Can Caulk Go Bad?

Though it won’t spoil, per se, it does harden and become unusable after a little bit. If you leave an open container out overnight, it will probably be ruined by morning. So don’t open it until you’re ready to use it.

What Is The Best Painter's Caulk?

While not all caulks are created equally, almost any brand of painter’s caulk will get the job done. DAP is the most popular and easiest to find. However, Gorilla Glue makes a wonderful caulk as well if you prefer it.

Can Painter's Caulk Be Sanded?

Yes, you definitely can sand painter’s caulk. However, the painter’s caulk you use does affect its ability to be sanded. So read on the bottle and it should say whether it can be sanded or painted. Take it slow either way.

Painter’s Caulk Conclusion

Caulking is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do for a DIY home repair project. It’s easier than painting. You can apply caulk on most surfaces. If it gets on your skin, you can simply wash it off with soap without much effort.

When repairing stucco cracks or filling holes, you won’t need to call a professional to do the job. If you’re working with latex caulk, that’s just as easy. Repairing cracks and filling holes is something every homeowner should have the ability to do. 

A tube of caulk doesn’t cost much to buy, so if you have old caulk that you can’t use, throw it away. When applying caulk, you don’t need a lot of time. When working with a brittle surface, painters caulk will improve it.