Building and Condo Maintenance

Types of Caulk, and What They Mean for Building Maintenance

Like it or not, from time to time leaks happen. And they may not even be a leak that’s part of your unit. If you’ve seen a leak above your tub, it could be that the caulking failed in your neighbor’s unit above you. It is important to report these issues immediately as they can become a much bigger issue later on.


Reporting leaks isn’t just limited to water either. Air or thermal leaks along walls, ductwork, or molding can also be problematic and costly.

Caulk is a great way to reduce or remove both water or thermal leaks. But how do you know what type to choose? There are four basic types of caulk:

  • Rubber caulks – Made with rubber compounds, these caulks are water resistant and good adhesives. However, these are flammable and should not be used indoors.
  • Latex Caulks – Often the least expensive, latex caulks are water-based, easy to use and the ones that are siliconized contain small amounts of silicone for durability.
  • Silicone Caulks – Silicone caulks stay flexible no matter the temperature and are completely waterproof making them perfect for bathrooms. However, they can be difficult to apply.
  • Polyurethane – Another durable choice, polyurethane is waterproof and flexible. It is expensive and should be used only where needed, as it can also be messy.

Before you begin caulking an area that needs it, practice with your caulk gun to learn how to get an even bead.

Fortunately, these days it’s easy to find the right product as most caulks are labeled for their use. Be sure to read through what you can and cannot do with specific caulks and what clean-up will be required if you make a mistake.

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