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The modern bathroom endures steam, soap/chemicals, liquid water, and heavy daily use. But at some point, you will have to address the wear and tear on your tub or shower sealant.
As trivial as it might seem, this is a hard job. The sealant must look good, last, and not leak. Choosing the best caulk for shower and tub applications is a key step in achieving your goals.
Lucky for you, we have assembled the best caulk for shower and tub use so you can easily find a sealant that will satisfy your needs.
In case You’re in a hurry…
GE Silicone 2+ Kitchen & Bath Sealant Caulk is widely available in cartridges and squeeze tubes and is the best choice for a skilled handyman who knows how to caulk. Once cured, this product is waterproof and durable.
If you need something a bit easier to install or more color options, you can opt for an acrylic/silicone blend. Acrylics are easier to work with and some offer wider color choices. DAP Kwik Seal Ultra is affordable and it is packaged in squeeze tubes or cartridges for small and large jobs. Plus, you can paint this caulk, which is not possible with silicone.
We have done all the research for you and with the list below you can learn what to look for in a caulk and what products are good choices for your shower or tub.
GE Silicone 2+ Kitchen & Bath Sealant Caulk is the best choice when you need a durable, mold-free, watertight job. This product touts mold-free protection for 10 years and a 50-year flexibility guarantee.
This caulk is versatile and will adhere to the various surfaces found in the bathroom. Glass, metal, plastic, fiberglass, etc. are not a problem as long as they are clean and sound.
It can also be ready for exposure to moisture in as fast as 30 minutes. When the shower must be ready for use in a short amount of time, this is a much-appreciated advantage.
For the budget-conscious, this is also one of the least expensive products as supplied in a 10-ounce sealant gun cartridge. Lots of features at a budget price makes this product hard to ignore.
Since this is silicone, it will take some skill to work with its sticky nature. Getting a smooth even bead takes some practice. You need to be honest with yourself about your caulking skills or you may not get the desired results.
Cleanup may involve the use of isopropyl alcohol, so this is not for those who want to avoid solvents.
Three colors are available. But note, you cannot paint this sealant. Those who need a wide color selection may want to look elsewhere.
G.E. Silicone is a well-established manufacturer and their products are widely available. You can buy it in a cartridge to use in a caulk gun, or a smaller squeeze tube, depending on the size of your job.
Coming in a close second, Gorilla Silicone Sealant Caulk is another good choice for DIYers experienced with silicone sealants. They also offer a strong guarantee and claim it will not shrink, yellow, or crack.
Various size tubes are available so you can buy the amount of sealant that is right for your job, large or small. One side note, their caulking gun cartridge is only 10 ounces, which is slightly less than other caulks.
Like some of its competitors, this caulk is mold and mildew resistant. For those living in warmer regions, this is a desirable feature for sealant.
It is also ready for water exposure in as little as 30 minutes. If you only have one shower in the house, this caulk will not keep you waiting to take a shower.
One thing they claim is that their caulk does not yellow. That can be a problem, particularly with clear sealants, and it is an advantage if true. Some users have mentioned some yellowing, but so far it would appear this product does resist yellowing better than other caulks.
Gorilla is well known for their adhesives, but is a relative newcomer to the sealant market. This product has established a good reputation, however, some users do like to see a track record when relying on a product to waterproof their home.
This caulk is a bit more expensive than some of the other sealants on our list, and combined with the limited color selection, they came up a bit short of earning the top spot on our list.
DAP Kwik Seal Ultra is an acrylic with silicone. That means it is more friendly to work with since it is not as sticky as a 100% silicone. This product can also be cleaned using soap and water.
In addition to easy cleanup, this product also has a low odor. DAP states in the product brochure that this caulk is volatile organic compound (“VOC”) compliant. So, if you are sensitive to chemical odors, this product offers an alternative that will create less impact on your indoor air quality.
Another interesting feature is the ability to prevent mold and mildew growth. Kwik Seal Ultra is designed to fight and prevent those nasty stains resulting from this problem.
The cure time needed before exposure to water is 4 hours. This is longer than some silicone products but not overly long.
Kwik Seal Ultra also resists stains. This feature is more useful with the food found in the kitchen, but it is also a useful feature in the bathroom to keep those shower caulk joints looking fresh and clean.
Like most shower caulks, you can find this product in cartridges and squeeze tubes. Note, the squeeze tubes for most acrylics are larger (about double) some of the competing silicone products.
Acrylics do not usually offer warranties as long as those for 100% sealants. But this caulk does. They provide a lifetime mold and mildew guarantee. They also warrant that the product will not crack, peel or separate when used as directed within one year of purchase.
Red Devil’s Kitchen & Bath with Stain Block is a sound alternate acrylic modified with silicone. It cleans up with soap and water and is VOC compliant with a relatively low odor.
This product uses a technology they call HomeShield™ Antimicrobial Protection to prevent mold and mildew growth for a guaranteed 5 years. In the past, acrylic caulks commonly lacked warranties against mold and mildew, but the industry is making strides and this is nice to see.
Like the other acrylics on our list, this product is paintable. If the three supplied colors are not right for your shower, you can get a custom color by using the paint you selected for the bathroom.
Red Devil notes that this is a high gloss caulk. Not all manufactures note the gloss, but it does matter to some homeowners. If you want a glossy shower sealant, you know this product can give you the appearance you want.
One thing to note if you do use this product, the cure time is 72 hours. This is longer than some other products. If you need to put your shower back into use right away, this may be too long for you to wait.
While the 5 year mildew and mildew warranty is stated clearly on the label, a review of the product literature shows that this is the only guarantee. Unlike some competing products, Kitchen and Bath with Stain Block has no other warranties against cracking or splitting.
Sashco is unique on our list in that it is a solvent-based copolymer rubber. This brings some advantages.
First, for those who keep the sealants in the garage or on a truck, it will not freeze. Water-based sealants will freeze and they are ruined when they do.
Also, the cure time is immediate. No waiting around with Lexel, you can expose it to water almost immediately.
The downside is organic solvents are smelly and they can irritate the respiratory system or induce headaches. You will need ventilation when you use this caulk.
As for performance, this product is interesting as it has the adhesion of a silicone, but can be painted like and acrylic. In other words, Lexel brings together some of the best attributes split between acrylic and silicone shower caulks.
For example, the manufacturer claims this product can handle 400% more joint movement than a silicone. In simple terms, this product is very flexible, which is good with fiberglass and plastic showers or tubs where joints can move quite a bit.
In addition, this caulk is mold and mildew resistant. It is always a good idea to use caulk in the shower area.with this kind of prevention built into the product.
So, there are some nice advantages built into this copolymer caulk, but it comes at a cost, literally. This is the most expensive sealant on our list. But if you want flexibility, and you can deal with the solvents, this might be worth a look.
Dow Corning is known for many things, including adhesives and sealants. Their 732 Mulitpurpose sealant is well known in the industry. It has also proved it can work in many situations, including the the shower.
Being 100% silicone, this caulk is for the handyman who knows how to work a caulking gun.
Also, the cure time is 24 hours, so you will lose your shower for at least one day. Take that into account if you decide to use this product.
This product comes with a NSF certification badge printed on the label. What does that mean? Well, it means this caulk, when cured, can come into occasional contact with potable water.
To get a NSF certification, the manufacturer tests their product. The results must show are no harmful chemicals leached from the cured sealant. For some, this is an important fact to know for peace of mind.
Some worry about chemicals leaching from their construction materials. The NSF certification verifies that 732 will not leach into harmful chemicals into your shower water.
This product has earned a solid reputation. Nasa even uses it. So, 732 has a strong pedigree with proven performance and loyal users.
However, this proven performance comes with a price tag. It is at the high end of the price range, but this product does offer more colors and NSF certification. For some, the 732 Multipurpose Silicone Sealant is the caulk that fits their project requirements.
Loctite offers a dedicated tub and shower sealant. But Polyseamseal Acrylic Caulk with Silicone is interesting for a couple of reasons.
First, if offers a better color palette than most acrylics. Yes you can paint this sealant if you want. But you can also get this sealant in more than just clear, white, and almond.
Second, this is a sealant with a 40-year warranty. That is a long time for an acrylic and competitive with the 100% silicone products on the market. For some, the warranty is an important consideration and this one of the best you will find for an acrylic.
And one final point, you can paint this caulk after just 30 minutes of cure. While the actual cure time is 2 to 7 days, it develops a dry, stable surface in a half hour.
As you might expect, products with added features usually cost more. And Loctite Acrylic Caulk with Silicone is in the middle to high end of the price range.
One last thing to note, if mold and mildew is a concern for your shower installation, this is not your product. It does not have a mildewcide or fungicide. If you want mold protection, you need to consider one of the other products on our list.
Shower or tub caulk must look good and stay waterproof for years. Your choice of caulk will impact whether you achieve the desired results.
Picking a sealant can be daunting, and there are many references on how to pick a caulk in general. But for a shower or tub, there are some job-specific considerations. We have summarized these below.
It is only natural to ask the question. But the answer depends on you and your needs.
Silicone will adhere to many surfaces, stay waterproof, and remain flexible over time. For fiberglass or plastic tubs and showers, this is an advantage as they tend to flex more at the joints. In general, silicone is more pliable and more durable than acrylic for this situation.
The downside with silicone is its sticky nature, making it harder to install. Also, you cannot paint it or apply new sealant over cured silicone.
Cleanup when using silicone may involve alcohol or other solvents. For some, using solvents is undesirable.
In contrast, acrylics are water-soluble and not as sticky. That means you can more easily smooth it and get a smooth, even bead. Acrylic also cleans up with soap and water.
Plus, fresh caulk will adhere to an acrylic if you need to do future repairs. Also, new paint will also bond to acrylic and this is an advantage over silicone.
If you are replacing or repairing old sealant, you may need to remove all the old caulk. This is especially important if the old sealant is silicone. New caulk of any kind will not adhere to old silicone.
To evaluate your existing sealant, look to see if it is rubbery or hard. Silicones tend to stay flexible and rubber-like, while acrylics get a bit hard as they age.
For all sealant installations, make sure the surface is clean, dry, and free of any loose debris or dust. Some sealants claim to work on wet surfaces, but if possible, it is always best to install caulking to a dry surface.
There many handyman guides that cover caulk installation in more detail. You can refer to these for more information on how to prepare the surfaces.
If you struggle to install caulking or want something that cleans up easily, then you want an acrylic (also called latex).
Silicone will last longer, but you may need a solvent to clean up excess sealant and it is difficult to install.
The biggest challenge when installing silicone is getting a smooth, even, finished bead. There is a trick that many use. Dip your finger into some water, then rub the wet digit on a bar of soap. Your soapy finger will then glide over the sticky wet silicone, leaving a smooth even bead.
This may sound like a small detail. But there are many discussion board threads started by frustrated DIYers who ended up with beads of sealant that were unsightly. If you have not used silicone sealant before, a shower that you use everyday is not a good place to learn.
We discussed silicone and acrylic modified with silicone quite a bit.
But there are other “chemistries” out there like copolymer rubbers. Some of these might work for you. But you should always use a product recommended for moisture-prone, high-use areas. Also, you might find that kitchen and bath sealants are sometimes referred to as sanitary caulk.
One last caution, polyvinyl acetates are NOT recommended. This polymer softens and can even dissolve in water, so it is not a good choice for the shower or tub.
There is an important aspect to the perfect sealant bead, its color.
Most of the shower and tub caulks come in clear, white, and “beige” (e.g. almond, biscuit, cream, etc.). If you need a broader selection of colors, there are some products that offer more options.
Another method to achieve a custom color is to paint the sealant. But keep in mind, silicone cannot be painted. For this reason, choose an acrylic if you are going to paint the caulk.
You use the shower every day, and that means moisture is available on a regular basis for mold and mildew. Once the resulting unsightly stains bloom, your shower loses its appeal.
Shower sealants pick up and hold dirt and soap over time. This is food for the pesky microbiological invaders. To combat this, some caulks include ingredients, called mildewcides or fungicides, and these special ingredients migrate to the surface to inhibit the mold and mildew.
Caulks containing special mildewcides will often note this feature on the label. Some products even guarantee a mold and mildew free surface. If you have combated mold growth in the past, or simply want to prevent it, the caulks with this kind of warranty may appeal to you.
There is a difference between dry and cure time when it comes to sealants.
Dry time is how long it takes for the caulk to feel dry to the touch. Cure time is how long it takes for the caulk to “set” and become ready for exposure to water.
Manufacturers usually note the dry and cure times on the label. You should check these before selecting a caulk. Some sealants need almost two weeks to cure, and you will be without the shower while you wait.
So, the cure time can be a critical feature if you have a job with a quick turnaround. Always check the cure time before selecting the best caulk for your shower.
The odor from sealants can be an issue. Pay attention to the installation instructions and provide proper ventilation if necessary.
If you are concerned about indoor air quality, you want to use a low VOC caulk. During installation, some products can emit high levels of VOCs which can cause acute health issues like headaches.
Also, some people worry about the impact of chemicals on their health. Some manufacturers test their products for occasional contact with potable water. If verifying that chemicals will not leach from your sealant is important to you, select a product with NSF certification.