When to Choose Sealant VS Caulk

Caulk and sealant for bathrooms are available as squeeze tubes or cartridges.  Latex caulk, silicone sealant, polyurethane foam, and specialty caulks, like butyl-rubber caulk, are some of the caulk and sealants you can use inside and outside your establishment. If you need work done on your grout or tile restoration, be sure to contact Safe Step for a quote.

The terms caulk and sealant are frequently interchanged since you can use both to fill joints and seams. Both materials perform the same function

They operate as sealing agents to cover gaps and cracks, as well as bonding agents between building components like countertops and sink bases. Both are applied to surfaces with a caulking gun to prevent leaks, lending sealant to be technically classified as a sort of caulk.

Sealant vs Caulk – Key Differences Explained 

Caulk for bathrooms is often manufactured from a combination of latex and acrylic ingredients, making it more stiff and prone to shrinkage once dried. On the other hand, a sealant has better flexibility and water resistance because it is mainly silicone. 

As temperatures change, the silicone substance permits a sealant to stretch and shrink without breaking its airtight/watertight seal. As a result, sealants are an excellent solution for places with high moisture levels and frequent weather changes, such as bathrooms or around doors and windows.

The following sections outline more specific differences in sealants vs caulk, primary applications, and cleanup guidelines.

Silicone Sealants

Worker smoothing silicone sealant between the bidet and the wall using a spatula.

  • Use silicone sealants for windows and bathrooms because these types of sealants are incredibly flexible and repel water and moisture.
  • To assist in sealing the window to the header, sill, jack stud, and jamb, use around the perimeter of the window.
  • Apply paintable silicone caulking to seal the window and siding edge on the exterior of the window units and the complete door unit.
  • Use in the vicinity of sinks, baths, and showers.
  • Seal gaps between shower tiles, between sinks and counters, and around the base of the toilet while installing bath fixtures.
  • Use outdoors in locations where the seal will be exposed to direct sunshine or rain, as the silicone will extend the life of the seal.
  • Seal any siding that overlaps with the foundation in older buildings to prevent air from entering. All exterior places where different materials intersect, such as around windows and doors, should be filled and sealed.
  • Instead of water, silicone caulk cleanup necessitates the use of solvents.

Latex Caulk

acrylic latex caulk being applied. Sealant vs caulk

  • Latex caulk is also referred to as acrylic latex caulk.
  • Use it with drywall, wood, and masonry to get the best results.
  • Fill in the spaces between the crown molding and the baseboards for a perfect finish.
  • Seal the flooring at the bottom of a door frame and the door frame itself.
  • Use latex painter’s caulk around interior doors and windows to swiftly repair cracks and holes in the drywall.
  • Employ a nifty trick by using latex caulk to install wood paneling without using nails.
  • Caulks degrade faster if exposed to water frequently.
  • You can clean it up with water.

Expandable Foam Caulk

Construction worker repairing window in house using expandable foam caulk

  • Fill wider gaps and holes with spray foam insulation made of polyurethane that expands to occupy the space.
  • Use in areas where there are electrical outlets, outside pipes, or window jambs.
  • Expandable foam caulk is the best caulk for sealing any spaces where insects may migrate through.
  • Because mice can gnaw through some sealants, use a pest-resistant foam sealant to seal exterior gaps and holes.
  • Expandable foam caulk has the bonus property that it’s good for sound absorption.
  • This type of caulk is suited well to repair foundation cracks in older structures.

Butyl-Rubber Caulk

Butyl-Rubber Caulk being applied to aluminum pieces

  • Butyl-rubber caulk is a specialist caulk that you should only use in outdoor applications.
  • It is a good option for use with aluminum, metal, concrete, mortar, plastics, rubber, stone, vinyl, and external wood.
  • Use on gutters, siding, and concrete are all also good material application candidates.
  • This caulk is a top choice for roofing construction and maintenance because it can endure severe temperatures and provides a strong, insulating, and watertight seal.
  • Clean-up can be difficult if this type of caulk comes in contact with your clothes, gloves, shoes, or skin.

Other Considerations

Plumber fixing toilet in a washroom with silicone caulking. Caulk vs Sealant

The following are some additional considerations to note when choosing sealants vs caulk:


Caulks and sealants are available in various colors, as well as neutral, white, and clear. Choose a color that complements the tile or other materials you’re working with, or choose a white paintable caulk that you can color-match afterward. Choose transparent caulk or sealant for a subtle aesthetic that goes with anything.

Sanded Caulk vs. Unsanded

Caulk can be sanded or left un-sanded. Sanded caulk contains particles that assist in sticking to moist surfaces and expand without cracking in greater spaces. It has a gritty appearance and texture. When using sanded grout, and in joints 1/8-inch or wider, use sanded caulk.

Caulk that has not been sanded has a smooth appearance and texture. Because it gives a pristine surface, it’s most commonly used to caulk countertops and backsplashes. You should use unsanded caulk to fill tight connections smaller than 1/8-inch wide. 

Sanded caulk can crack tile and other materials if it expands too much in a small space. Unsanded caulk may not stick to wet surfaces or sanded grout as effectively as sanded caulk.

Regular Caulk vs. Fast-Drying Caulk

A technician choosing ebtween two different kinds of caulk

Latex caulk and silicone sealant dry to the touch in thirty minutes on average, but they can take up to 24 hours to fully cure and become waterproof. Depending on the temperature and humidity, fast-drying formulations can cure in as little as 24 hours. 

Fast-drying formulas typically have the advantage of being paintable after only an hour of drying time. This advantage speeds up the entire installation procedure. 

Before painting, regular caulk and sealants must cure completely. Although latex caulk and silicone sealants dry and cure rapidly, polyurethane foam typically takes ten days to cure.

Sealing your financial leaks

Worker puts silicone sealant to caulk the joint between tub and wall.

Long-lasting, robust sealing can be achieved with the correct caulk or sealant. Eliminate stains, prevent water damage, cut down on cleaning time, and reduce the frequency of sealing and resealing your bathroom investment. Learn more about Everseal Caulk Replacement from Safe Step and impress your guests and employees while improving your bottom line.