With a little knowledge, selecting sealant is simple
Admit it. You’ve been one of the lost souls standing in the caulk aisle, staring dumbfounded at the magnitude of caulk choices. This article will help you make sense of those ever-expanding choices and choose the right caulk for your specific job. For more caulk application tips, check out Mark’s Caulking Tips.
FOUR COMMON FORMULAS
These types of caulk dominate the shelves at home centers. Labels don’t always tell you what’s in the tube, so we’ve included examples of each type in this slideshow. But there are many more brands than the ones we show. All are available in various colors and paintable.
Acrylic Latex ($2 to $5)
Acrylic latex caulks are the easiest to apply and smooth out. They’re also the only sealants that clean up with water. Look for versions labeled “siliconized” or “plus silicone.” Adding silicone to acrylic latex improves adhesion and flexibility.
Poly caulks are generally tougher than other sealants, making them a good choice for driveways and other areas that take a beating. But their gooey consistency makes them hard to work with. Check the label before painting; you may have to wait several days.
Solvent-Based ($6 to $9)
Many solvent-based caulks are great for roofing because they don’t degrade in direct sunlight and can be applied to wet surfaces. But they’re gooey and hard to apply neatly.
Hybrid ($7 and up)
Most hybrid caulks combine silicone and polyurethane for top-notch adhesion, flexibility and longevity. They’re easier to apply neatly than polyurethane, but not as easy as acrylic latex. Most aren’t labeled “hybrid,” so we’ve pointed out the hybrids in the various photos. Cost is a clue: High-quality hybrids are usually the most expensive caulks on the shelf.