Caulking around your bathtub is considered standard fare when it comes to renovating or building a new bathroom. But what if I told you that you didn’t have to use caulking and viable alternatives do exist.
Caulking is not the end all be all material for your bathtub. Based on the type of bathtub you have and other bathroom factors, there are different materials out there that would work better for you than caulking.
This article will cover six of these caulk alternatives, presenting you with information to help you decide which alternative would suit you best.
Do Bathtubs Need to Be Sealed?
Bathrooms tend to be full moisture due to bathing, showering, using the sink, and so on. Without sealant, all this moisture can wreak havoc on your house.
If you don’t seal your bathtub, the tub itself will be fine, but you will allow water and moisture to seep into your walls, floor, and foundation. This creates the type of scenarios that homeowners fear, such as dealing with mold or water damage.
Common Caulking Problems
A best-case scenario for caulking is that it will last 10 years. But due to moisture, chemical cleaners, and other factors, most caulking gives out between the time it’s 5 to 8 years old. Caulking’s lifespan is quite short when compared to other materials.
Flaking and Cracking
An agitating yet common issue with caulk is flaking and cracking, which can occur due to improper installation, using a poor quality caulk, or just naturally with the passing of time. The only solution to this issue is to remove the old caulk and apply fresh caulk.
Difficult to Remove
Caulking is not fun to remove. While the only tool you’ll need is a razor blade, caulking never comes out as smoothly as it went in. In addition, there are usually many small pieces left behind that must be thoroughly removed.
Some do not know that silicone caulk comes with some severe health risks. The overpowering odor of caulking alone has been known to cause fainting spells, nausea, and dizziness. Caulking is also very toxic if ingested.
While you don’t need to be a professional craftsman to caulk, caulking still requires some technique and finesse. The first time you caulk, you’ll likely have issues with the caulking gun, do some sloppy lines, and make a mess.
Alternatives to Caulking Around the Bathtub
Epoxy Resin Sealant
Epoxy resin sealant has become a popular alternative to caulking. Epoxy sealants will give your bathroom a shine and shimmer with a glossy finish. Epoxy sealants are also better at waterproofing than silicone caulking and are one of the best choices for creating a waterproof seal. In addition, you can purchase epoxy resin that is dyed which can add color and style to your bathroom. This material is easy to install and has the versatility to work on nearly any bathtub.
Grout is a dependable material that is used to seal tiled walls all across the world. While not usually used to seal around a bathtub, this material can seal your tub with ease. When compared to caulking, grout is less expensive, longer-lasting, and better at waterproofing. In addition, grout can give your bathroom a seamless look if you already have grout installed on your tiled walls and match the grout’s color.
Sealant tape is becoming another popular alternative to caulking. While sealant tape is excellent at waterproofing and comes in many colors and designs, it is not as durable as caulking. Sealant tape would work great for a stylish adult bathroom but should be kept away from children due to the fact that it can be easy to damage.
When it comes to creating a watertight seal, polyurethane spray foam is your best option besides epoxy resin sealant. Spray foams are remarkable at handling temperature fluctuations, moisture and can easily last for 10 to 15 years or more. However, while spray foams are easy to install, the installation process can get quite messy. Another often-heard complaint about spray foam is that it simply does not look as good as caulking or its other alternatives.
Mortar is a specialty material when used as a bathtub sealant and will not work for most people. But if you happen to have a stone bathtub and stone walls, you should highly consider using mortar. Mortar is not waterproof on its own, but there are many products you can add to it which can make it waterproof. The main benefit of mortar is its durability and long life. Mortar can easily last for 25 to 50 years or more.
Peel and Stick Trim
Peel and stick trim or cord, as it’s also known, is a combination of a trim piece and sealant tape. This trim is definitely waterproof and comes in many different colors. But you must install this trim correctly to create a watertight seal, so you might need some professional help. Also, peel and stick trim has an unpredictable lifespan that can be short as 5 years or long as 25 years and depends on many factors.
While you can put new sealant over old caulking, it is not recommended. This is because you may not know how old that caulking is, and it can shrink or crack, which will compromise your new sealant.
The answer to this question depends on many factors, such as the removal of old caulking and sealant, along with the type of new sealant you are using. In most cases, you can get the job done in a couple of hours, but it may take a few days for your sealant to cure fully.