Does Caulk Go Bad?

Everyone takes a bath or shower right? Well I hope so anyway, don’t want to be stinky! In your bathroom you may have never noticed the material around the seams of the tub or shower. This material is called caulk, it helps make sure that everything is nice and sealed and that there is not going to be any leaks, which is extremely important in regards to the bathroom.

We never want a leak to happen, so it is important to replace caulk when it is necessary. The rule of thumb is to replace the caulk in the bathroom every 5 years. So if you are doing this, you may have an old tube of caulk in the garage. Does caulk go bad? Caulk or caulking will indeed expire and go bad. Caulk used to last 5+ years but now that the VOC’s have been removed, caulk will only last 1-2 years unopened and a few months after being opened. You can make sure the caulk is good by testing the caulk on a scrap piece and make sure it isn’t hardened in the tube.

If you want to find the best caulk, click here.

What is Caulk or Caulking?

Caulk or caulking is a water proof paste-type substance that is used to fill in cracks to block leaks. This substance is used on a variety of projects that have to do with sealing and ensuring that leaks will not occur. The most prevalent place caulk is used is in bathrooms, on tiles and on pipes. Basically anywhere we want to ensure there will not be a leak, we will utilize caulk.

Applying Caulk

Caulking comes in a tube since it is a paste like substance. To use caulk correctly, it helps to also have a caulk gun. The caulk gun will make sure we are using all of the caulk in the tube efficiently and we get our moneys worth from the whole tube.

Steps to apply caulk:

  1. Press or pull the release at the base of the caulk gun, this will release the plunger to the back of the gun.
  2. Pull the plunger back as far as you can.
  3. Place the caulking tube with the nozzle in the front and release the plunger.
  4. Cut the tip of the caulking tube.
  5. Push a pencil, nail, or something sharp into the hole to puncture the seal.
  6. Point at the surface that you want to apply caulking to at a 45 degree angle.
  7. Squeeze the handle slowly while bringing the gun towards you. Once you can’t squeeze anymore, release it and repeat this process until the correct amount of caulk has been applied.

Using a caulking gun is helpful when needing to apply caulk to a lot of areas, using one is not 100% necessary though. If you just need a pinch of caulk, you can just squeeze it out manually and apply using your hands.

For additional info watch this video of how to apply caulk like pro!

Is Your Caulk Bad?

There are a few ways to determine if the caulk you are about to use is past its best used shelf life. If you are trying to apply caulk and nothing is coming out of the tube because it’s hardened, then your caulk has gone bad. If you apply the caulk and it’s partially hard or pastey, your caulk has gone bad. If your caulk doesn’t smell like it should, your caulk has gone bad.

Caulk will typically last between 1-2 years if the tube has not been opened and just a few months after it has been opened and used.

When purchasing your caulk at the store, make sure you look at the dates on the tubes. Some have a best used by date, but most do not. If there is not a best used by date there is usually a date stamp on the bottom. If you find that date stamp, take away the first “1” in the date and that’s the date it was manufactured. Use that date to make sure before you purchase it is not already passed the best used by date.

Types of Caulk

There are many different types of caulk on the market. Each of them are made a little differently and are catered to be used on specific materials around the home. Before choosing your caulk, it is important to know the different types and makes so you can get the best caulk for your specific job at your house.

Types of caulk include:

  • Latex Caulk
  • Acrylic Latex Caulk
  • Vinyl Latex Caulk
  • Silicone Caulk
  • Latex Silicone Caulk
  • Butyl Rubber Sealant
  • Polyurethane Foam Caulk
  • Fireproof Caulk
  • Asphalt Caulk
  • Modified Silicone Polymers

Latex Caulk

Can be applied on any type of surface and is extremely durable, lasts for 20+ years. However, this caulk can not with stand heat or cold, therefore you can only use this type of caulk for the indoors.

Acrylic Latex Caulk

This is the type of caulk that professional painters will use. They use this to fill in holes and gaps prior to painting. This type of caulk even comes in a variety of colors specially because painters use this on their projects. It helps buying the color of caulk that closely resembles the color they will be painting with. Acrylic latex is inexpensive, fast-drying and does better in places that it will not get wet. So it’s best to use where it stays dry.

Vinyl Latex Caulk

This is the more durable version of acrylic latex. Painters will use this one instead if they need a more durable caulk. This type will also last longer, but the one downfall, it‘s not very flexible. So getting the right fit in the gap is sometimes an issue.

Silicone Caulk

This is the caulk that comes to mind when people think of it. This is the one that is typically used in the bathroom, on tiles, and on pipes. Silicone caulk is water and mold resistant. The downfalls of this type of caulking include that it can not be painted on or used on wood.

Latex Silicone Caulk

This type of caulk is best used for on bricks and stones. A very durable caulk that can even handle extreme weather situations.

Butyl Rubber Sealants

This pasty sealant is best used for outdoor projects. Things like gutters, metals, and masonry. The reason for this is because it works well for things that might move due to expansion and contraction. Another good feature of this caulk is that a lot of the recipes can be painted on.

Polyurethane Foam Caulk

Used to seal electric outputs and gaps around the insulation of buildings. This is the only one that can be used with direct application to electricity.

Fireproof Caulk

Pretty much used for what you would think. This caulk is applied when you need something to resist fire and not be a fire hazard.

Asphalt Caulk

Used mostly to seal and fill in gaps for roof shingles. However, if used it can not be in direct sunlight. This type of caulk can not with stand it and will be ineffective if it is.

Modified Silicone Polymers

This caulk is best used on cement, aluminum, vinyl, or wood siding. The great thing is this is another water proof caulk.

Lets give a breakdown of the key features of the each caulk:

Caulk TypeDurablePaintableMold ResistantWater ProofTemp Resistant
Acrylic Latex X
Vinyl LatexXX
Latex SiliconeXXXX
Butyl RubberXX
Polyurethane FoamXXX
Fire ProofX
Modified SiliconeX

Final Thoughts

Caulk is an important product for any project that needs to fill in cracks, gaps, and ensure no leaks. It is vital to ensure you are using the exact kind of caulk needed for your specific project. Caulk will go bad eventually. If opened it will go bad in a few months, if unopened it will go bad in a year or two but it does depend on where you store it and what formula caulk you are using.

Related Questions

How often should caulk be replaced? About every 5 years, but it depends on the formula used and the environment it has been exposed to. Check periodically to ensure it doesn’t need to be replaced more frequently.

Can you put new caulk over old caulk? Yes, you do not need to remove the old caulk in every circumstance. Make sure all the old caulk is covered with the new one for best results.

Is caulk and sealant the same thing? No, there are a tad different due to their elasticity. Caulk is rigid when dry and used for spaces with little expansion and contraction. Sealants are more flexible and made for areas that need expansion and contraction.

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