What Is The Difference Between Caulk & Sealant

What is the Difference Between Caulk & Sealant?

Sealants have been used in construction for millennia. Prehistoric people used natural materials such as earth, loam, mud, and reeds to seal the interiors of their homes. Sealants were first manufactured in the 1920s in the form of butyl, acryl, and silicone polymers. And by the 1960s synthetic-polymer based sealants started gaining traction in the construction scene. Sealants have changed a lot over the years, but the purpose remains the same – to seal the joints and gaps between two or more materials to prevent fluids from passing through the joints or openings. In the construction world, a sealant is often synonymous with caulking which also serves the same purpose, but they are quite different. Check out our Melbourne caulking services here. 

The main role of a sealant is to prevent the passage of air and water into openings or joints to accommodate differential movement. They function as an integral component in protecting buildings. You can make your home more energy-efficient by keeping air leakage to a minimum as possible. This is where caulking comes to the picture. Caulking is a barrier to prevent the passage of air, water, moisture, smoke, and dust. The main difference between caulk and a sealant is the grade of material. The type of sealant used on a home project is determined by many factors, including environmental conditions. Sealants are commonly made from silicone to seal the areas that are prone to contraction and expansion.

What is Caulk?

Every house has gaps and cracks through which outdoor air enters and indoor air escapes. Caulk is basically a sealing agent used to prevent the passage of water and air into joints or openings in your house. Caulking keeps the water from passing through the joints. Caulking guns are mostly used to apply caulking on the surfaces that need to be waterproofed. The gun is loaded with a cartridge of a toothpaste-like caulking compound which can be squeezed out after you press the trigger—the paste than can be applied carefully between the surfaces.


  • Dries quicker than silicone
  • Less tolerant to movement than silicone – should only be used in areas where there is little or no movement.
  • Ideal for filling gaps in living areas like between skirting boards, picture rails and built-in furniture
  • You can paint over it with any paints or varnishes.
  • While it’s still wet, it can be easily removed with a damp cloth.
  • When completely dry, acrylic is much harder than silicone.


  • Acrylic tends to shrink slightly when drying, so the application of a second layer may be necessary.
  • Not for contact with water
  • Really it depends on what you want to do and where you are planning to seal, but as always check the manufacturer’s instructions and check the suitability for your project and any applicable guidelines. We hope our little caulk vs silicone guide makes it easier for you to choose the right product.

What is a sealant?

Sealant is a type of caulk, typically constructed from a flexible material, usually silicone. The advantage of this material over normal caulk is it’s flexibility, allowing it to fill over awkward or intrusive angles, while still providing a strong bond. Whereas caulk hardens and becomes rigid when it dries, silicone does not, allowing it to be a stronger material in terms of resisting water and mildew, when compared to caulk. The primary negative to sealant however is that it is much more difficult to apply, with improper application leading to water pockets or holes that could be problematic down the line. It also can’t be painted over, and so it is quite visible.

Sealant provides a sealing agent that is much more water-resistant to caulk but also is harder to apply. Below are some of the pros and cons of using a sealant for your bathroom repair projects.


  • More water-resistant than standard caulk
  • Flexible material, allowing for more versatile applications


  • Harder to apply than standard caulk
  • Will still degrade in a similar time frame than standard caulk
  • Harder to remove after application
  • Cannot be painted over
  • Strong odour

Are there any additional options for your tub? 

When it comes to sealing your bathtub, there are two general solutions-either caulk or putty. Grout is also an acceptable solution, but it is much more permanent than either caulk or putty, so extreme care must be placed before you use it. Caulk, as mentioned previously, has a few issues but is generally the most used method of sealing cracks and adding additional supports to your bathroom.Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of caulking services

Putty or plumber’s putty is another option, but it is more used as a temporary measure of sealing up cracks and is more intended for pipes than actual foundation. As a whole, the most preferred method is a hybrid caulk of acrylic, silicone and latex. This hybrid compound provides all the benefits of both normal sealant and caulk without any drawbacks. 

Choose the Right Caulk for Your Next Project

Latex and silicone caulk is the most common types. The two materials are sometimes combined and sold as siliconized latex or latex plus silicone. These products offer the easy use of latex with the added durability of silicone.

Caulk comes in two forms: a cartridge or a squeeze tube. Using a larger cartridge (usually 9 to 11 ounces) with a caulk gun will result in a continuous bead of caulk. For smaller projects, a smaller squeeze tube (usually 3 to 6 ounces) may be a more convenient choice.

In addition to cartridges and tubes, you can also buy caulk strips. These rolls come with adhesive backing and a fast, no-mess application. With no tools required, these mildew-resistant strips are perfect for sealing bathtubs, showers and wall trim, and can even be applied over existing caulk as a finishing touch. This overview of the main types of caulk will help. 

Acrylic Latex Caulk

Acrylic latex caulk is the general-purpose workhorse. It’s inexpensive and fast-drying and is useful for many different applications. Most importantly, it can be painted. This is why it’s sometimes referred to as “painter’s caulk.”

Use this caulk for filling small gaps and blemishes in wood trim and for sealing joints between wood parts that will be painted. While the label may claim it’s suitable for wet areas, it’s best to stick to dry areas or on parts with may see moisture (like exterior trim and siding) but will be protected by a complete coating of paint. 

Latex Caulk with Silicone

Latex or acrylic caulk with silicone added offers somewhat more moisture-resistance than standard latex caulk. It’s also a bit more flexible and durable, thanks to the silicone. You can use this in the same places as standard latex caulk as well as for exposed (unpainted) applications that need only moderate waterproofing. 

While this caulk is commonly called “tub and tile” caulk, it’s not as good as pure silicone for tile and bathroom fixtures.

Pure Silicone Caulk

Pure, or 100%, silicone is the premium caulk for jobs exposed to water. Silicone caulk is expensive but worth the cost due to its flexibility and long life. Most formulas are mildew-resistant and have inhibitors to slow discolouration (but all caulk gets ugly over time). The only big downside is that it’s not paintable. But that shouldn’t be a problem for its normal applications. If a silicone caulk says it can be painted, it’s probably not pure silicone. 

Use pure silicone for sealing around plumbing fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, and faucets, and for any caulk joints on the tile in wet areas. It’s also a general-purpose sealant and waterproofer for things like holes in exterior walls, sealing around pipe and wiring penetrations, and filling gaps between exposed materials of almost any type. Finally, pure silicone is a pretty strong adhesive and can be used as a glue for things like undermount sinks or fixtures attached to the stone and other hard-to-glue materials. 

Silicone will work on roofs and windows or doors, but it’s not the best option for those applications. Instead, use a high-quality roofing sealant for roof work, and use a high-quality window and door sealant (not latex caulk) for installing and sealing windows and doors (it lasts as long as silicone and is paintable). 

Butyl Rubber Caulk

This sticky, messy caulk is primarily for outdoor use. It’s a great sealant for metal and masonry and for joints that might move due to expansion and contraction. A good example is gutters. It also fills larger joints well when used with a caulking rod or backer rod. Many formulas are paintable. 

Refractory Caulk

Also called fireplace caulk, refractory caulk is a high-temperature sealant good for filling small cracks in brick, concrete, and other masonry materials, specifically in masonry fireplaces and chimneys. Use this only for minor repairs, such as filling small gaps between bricks in a firebox. It’s not suitable as a masonry replacement or for significant repairs. 

Masonry Repair Caulk

This flexible caulk is primarily used for sealing cracks and expansion joints in driveways and other outdoor concrete surfaces. It’s also suitable for filling and repairing cracks in masonry-stucco walls. Many formulas today are made with polyurethane (or other urethane blends), and some contain sand to provide a masonry-like texture. 

Tips on applying you adhesives

When applying caulk or sealant, it is best to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your mixture. All caulk has a general temperature limit and will usually list whether they are more suited for outside use or indoor use, so it is important to follow the instructions before applying. 

  • Clean your bathroom and get rid of any external debris
  • A clean surface allows the caulk to adhere properly
  • Using a caulking gun, apply a small bead and run it through the length of the crack you are trying to repair
  • Allow the caulk to set and dry
  • After the caulk has fully dried, you may paint over the surface. 

Caulk and sealant are both great at providing a quick fix for any bathroom. For those looking to have an easy DIY solution in their home, it doesn’t get any more basic than applying the right adhesive. So long as you understand their strengths and weaknesses, they will save your home from greater headaches down the road. 

What Are the Benefits of Caulking?

Here is a reason why the caulk needs to be checked in various areas around a house or building, to make certain that it remains in good condition. Caulking provides several benefits. Check out Hitch Property Constructions for a huge range of Melbourne caulking services

that you may not notice unless the caulking job isn’t done properly, or if the caulk is somehow removed.

Caulking around a window protects more than just the window frame.

In either case, you’ll eventually notice problems.

Watertight Seal

Caulking around certain joints and fixtures creates a seal that prevents water that flows from faucets and showers from seeping into cracks and crevices. If allowed in, this water can cause damage that’s costly to repair. This is why installers often caulk around a kitchen faucet, for example. The caulking prevents water from entering between the faucet and countertop, where it can cause damage not only to the counter but also to the cabinet and floor underneath the sink. Without caulking around a bathtub, water would damage the wall and floor.

Lower Energy Costs

There are numbers of spots inside a house where caulking prevents drafts and hot or cold air loss to the outside. Prime spots include the borders around windows and doors, and along wall baseboards. If these cracks and openings are not caulked, valuable indoor cool air escapes during hot months, and warm air escapes during cold periods. In response, you increase your home’s heating and cooling usage to make up for the loss, and increase your home’s energy costs. The drafts that are created also make it uncomfortable to stay near walls and windows inside the house.

Protection From Outside Elements

Along with preventing air leaks, caulking around windows and trim provides protection from outside elements seeping inside, around the window frame or through other gaps. Dust and dirt enter the structure more freely without caulk to provide any blockage. When the moisture from rain or snow enters, not only does it damage the structure–causing rotted, warped wood and peeling wallpaper–it also leads to dangerous mould and mildew. Water and mildew stains appear on the walls, and also in the carpet.

Other Benefits

Caulking provides a seal against small insects that would otherwise have open routes to enter a house or building. Also, without caulking, insects have access to more hiding places once they enter a structure. In addition to creating a more professional-looking appearance around surfaces and materials, caulking also prolongs the lives of those surfaces. Because it protects against outside elements and thwarts inside water damage, caulking also helps protect against erosion.

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