You probably don’t think about caulk very often, but it is one of those home improvement items you can’t live without. It provides the seal that keeps moisture from getting in, and keeps bugs and vermin from getting out. However, if your caulking job is sloppy or if you have a poor quality caulk, it may need to be repaired or replaced.
This is especially true if you have a bathroom and I can’t overstress this. The caulk in your bathroom is not drying for several reasons: It may be too dirty. It may be too hot. It may be too cold. It may have too much moisture. It may be old and no longer sticky.
Bathrooms are notorious for high humidity and moisture, and what I always find is caulk left to its own devices will eventually fail.
There are several different types of caulking you can use, but regardless of which one you choose, it is good to know why bathroom caulk is not drying first.
Otherwise you run the risk of problems recurring every time you try to do this job.
Why bathroom caulking is important
When most people think of bathroom caulk, they only think of the function behind the name: to fill the cracks and seams of your bathroom where water can get in.
At least that’s what I hear when folks talk about bathroom caulk.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that there are also two reasons why bathroom caulking is important.
The first is an aesthetic one: caulk can be used to make your bathroom look better, and the second is a health-related one: caulk can be used to prevent mold and mildew from forming in your bathroom.
Caulking is what helps protect the area between the tub and the wall or shower stall.
For me, caulking has served to prevent leaks that might damage my home’s interior.
While a water-resistant caulk can be used to create a waterproof seal, a silicone caulk used in conjunction with a waterproof sealant will help protect against water damage.
We choose to use a waterproof sealant because it’s easy to install, and is virtually invisible.
A silicone caulk is usually applied before the sealant is applied, and it fills in the cracks and seams to make the seal even more effective.
Common causes of bathroom caulk not drying
For those who don’t know, caulk is a substance that you use to fill small gaps in your bathroom, whether they are around your bathtub, or separating your shower from the rest of the bathroom.
While you can use ordinary white or grey caulking, it’s best to use one that is designed to be more resistant to water, mold, and mildew.
My bathroom is the most humid and moisture-prone area in the home.
And the moisture in the air can cause bathroom caulk to swell and break down.
Although it is possible for bathroom caulk to dry up and shrink again, the biggest reason why bathroom caulk doesn’t dry up is because the bathroom is either too humid or too hot.
Don’t let the caulk in your bathroom sink, tub or shower stall collect mold and mildew. A bathroom caulk tends to stay wet longer than it should, because an ill-fitting, damaged or loose drain cover can cause water to pool in the basin.
Water can also collect in a corner of the bathroom sink or behind a toilet, or a clogged drain can cause water to overflow into the toilet and bathroom caulk.
Even if you carefully wipe up any excess water, I don’t think you can prevent the bathroom caulk from getting wet in the first place.
To prevent bathroom caulk from becoming a breeding ground for mold and mildew, fix any damaged or loose drain covers, and make sure you have functioning drain covers in your sink, shower and tub.
There are other common causes that I associate with bathroom caulk not drying. These are:
- incorrect usage of the caulk
- the wrong kind of caulk
- bad installation
1. Incorrect usage of the caulk
While a caulk is a sealant that is used to fill holes and cracks in a variety of materials, including wood, metal, masonry and most plastic products, it cannot be used for everything.
In fact, if you use this material in ways that are not recommended, you may find that your home improvement project deteriorates rather than improves.
Your caulk is only as good as the surface it is applied to. You should apply it to surfaces that are clean, dry and free of any other sealants.
Caulk is such a useful tool for many small and big projects around the home, but there are many common mistakes people make when using caulk.
First, many people do not have a decent caulking gun; if you’ve ever had the experience of being unable to get a bead of caulk started, you’re probably using an old, outdated caulking gun.
I’d suggest you invest in a quality gun that is designed to make applying caulk a breeze.
Another common example of incorrect usage of caulk is using it to seal gaps in the bathroom floor.
Well, technically, you can use caulk to do this, but I feel there are much better alternatives such as expanding foam.
The same thing can be said of caulk as paint: if you want your bathroom floor to be waterproof and look nice, you’re much better off using a product designed for flooring rather than caulk.
The caulk should be applied only for sealing purposes.
It should not be used as an adhesive, even though it might appear to be better than the latter.
There are some cases when it might be required to caulk the joints between two pipes. It is a good idea to check how the pipe is connected to the wall in order to do it right.
2. What kind of caulk is used in the bathroom
You’ve just finished a nice, relaxing bath, and you’re admiring your new bathroom. You’re pleased with how everything looks, from the towel rack to the mirror, and you notice that the caulk in the corner of your tub looks a little off.
Since you don’t want to take any chances, you grab your shower squeegee and remove the caulk.
The caulk in your bathroom is an important part of the overall bathroom design.
It’s intended to prevent water from seeping out along the edges of the bathtub, shower, sink, or toilet.
But over time, your bathtub caulk may become damaged and need replacing. So, what might be the best kind of caulk to use in your bathroom?
There are two main categories of caulk: latex and silicone.
Latex has a flexible consistency that allows it to move with the wall and fill small cracks. It is available in a range of colors.
Silicone is a more rigid caulk that does not adhere to the wall like latex does; instead it is installed in a bead along the wall. Silicone is available in a range of colors, but is generally more expensive than latex.
In the 1980s, silicone caulk was all the rage.
This was the caulk of choice for many remodeling projects, but it eventually fell out of favor due to health and product liability issues.
Nowadays, the most commonly used bathtub caulk is acrylic-based silicone caulk.
This type of silicone is formulated to stay flexible under water and will not crack, shrink, or lose its shape.
It can also be used to repair things like shower doors, bathtubs, and other bathroom fixtures.
What’s more, it’s easy to remove when you’re ready to replace the paint or wallpaper on the walls.
3. Bad bathroom caulk installation
The bathroom is one of the most-used living spaces in the house. It’s also the most frequented, and for good reason: it’s not just a place to freshen up and get ready for the day, but also a refuge when you need to relax after a long day.
According to Investopedia, poor bathroom installation is one of the most common mistakes that home buyers tend to forget when acquiring a new house.
Considering the amount of time we spend in there, it’s essential that we take the time to do caulk applications and installations properly, so that it is both hygienic and aesthetically pleasing.
You might be surprised to learn that a basic caulk installation should be done correctly the first time. These are some of the mistakes you want to avoid when applying and installing caulk:
- Don’t let the caulk tube get too hard before installing it. If the caulk is hard, you may have a harder time applying it evenly.
- Don’t use too much caulk. It may look like you have enough, but once the caulk has dried, you will realize you could have done with less.
- Don’t rush. If you want your caulk job to look good, take your time.
- Also, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t use any caulk for your bathroom or kitchen if it’s past the expiration date
Leftover caulk oozing over the edge of a freshly caulked tub or sink is never a good look.
And it’s even worse when you realize that the caulk is still wet—and hasn’t even finished drying yet.
That’s because you didn’t wait long enough for it to dry. While you may have let it dry for 24 hours, not all caulk dries at the same rate.
Some brands dry in about 1 hour, while others can take up to 3 days to dry completely.
Much like a good relationship, a good caulk job starts with the right amount of communication.
The first step when applying caulk is to match the caulk’s width to the joint that needs to be filled.
If you’re filling a 3/4 inch gap, use a quarter inch wide caulk.
While it may not be possible to see the gap from the outside, it’s not hard to measure the gap using a ruler.
Even with proper installation, bathroom caulking can go wrong, and quickly.
Whether it’s because of a faulty product or something else, it’s important to know how to fix bathroom caulk that isn’t drying.
First, turn off the water, if there’s any in the application area. Then, remove the caulk and replace it.
Don’t save on caulk like I see most people do, it’s an expensive mistake to make.
And, if the damage is minimal, ask your caulking supplier about their caulk-resealing product.
If the damage is more severe, you can patch with caulk after fixing the leak, but if the caulk has dried or you cannot replace the entire area, you can also patch with a latex-based caulk.
That familiar acrid, burnt rubber smell that hangs in the air when you have your bathroom remodeled is a sure sign that it’s time to caulk. Caulking not only seals your bathroom to prevent drafts but it also can hide the gap around your tub or shower and can make your bathroom look more modern and clean.
So, today apply caulk the proper way to the border of the tub or shower and don’t miss the gap, to inhibit mold and mildew growth.