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How to choose caulk

Wade through the dizzying choices

I think the hardest part of caulking is deciding which product will best fit the job. My head spins when I walk into a home improvement store and see all the different choices.

Jenny Johnson is a group product director for DAP. She recommends choosing by project. A caulk that’s meant for outdoor use should be flexible, durable, and weather-resistant. If you’re using it inside, especially in a kitchen or bath, look for products with mold and mildew resistance.

Once you’ve got that narrowed down, Johnson says you have to decide between formulations.

"There’s latex, and latex can be used inside or out. The benefit of latex is that it cleans up easily with water when it’s still wet and you’re applying it. You can paint it," says Johnson. "Silicone is known for its durability and flexibility, however, when you’re applying it and you’re trying to clean up any excess caulk you have to use mineral spirits. Also, you can’t paint it."

Johnson says there is also a category of caulk that they call a “hybrid sealant”. It combines the best of latex and silicone technologies.
 
How you apply the caulk also makes a difference in what you buy.

"Part of it is how much product do you need? So if you do need a larger size, you are limited to using the caulk gun. The smaller sizes are available in squeeze tubes and aerosols. It’s really just your preference, what you feel comfortable with," says Johnson. "For some people, using a caulk gun isn’t that big of a deal and they’re comfortable with that. For others, it can be intimidating. The squeeze tube is easy to use, it’s easy to reach in tight spaces."

Common caulk colors include white or clear. But, you might be able to find specific colors to match the siding of your house.

Learn more:

Types of caulk and sealants and when to use them

Tips on how to caulk

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