Caulk is one of those versatile substances that has a myriad of uses in both facility maintenance and general construction. When sealing joints and seams, it can be difficult knowing which caulk to use given the variety of material available. The most commonly used types of caulk for facility maintenance, residential and commercial construction are water based acrylic, silicone, and urethane.
Water based acrylic is often selected because of excellent adhesion, flexibility, and the fact this caulk is paintable. Primarily used for carpentry and interior finishing, it easily fills the gaps between molding and walls, and can be used to fill the seams at the molding joints themselves. When the caulk is applied to molding that is to be painted, it helps to give the facility an aesthetically appealing and “finished” look.
Water, water everywhere and not a drop that seeps…
Silicone caulk has all the beneficial properties of the water based acrylic, but it is not paintable. The benefit is that this caulk repels water much more readily. Often used to protect protect kitchens, bathrooms, and any other interior areas at risk from high levels of moisture and damaging effects of water, this caulk acts as a barrier to water seepage.
In kitchens, caulk is applied where the counter top meets the back-splash, where the back-splash meets the wall, and where the sink meets the counter top. The same holds true for bathrooms, but expanded uses include the seal around toilets, bathtubs, sinks, and stalls. In these areas, it is possible to create a water tight barrier that is still visually attractive.
Down in the corner
Urethane caulk is commonly used on building exteriors to prevent water from seeping into the joints in concrete, or where pavement meets the edge of the building. Caulking seams and cracks in concrete is imperative to prevent further separation, which is an eyesore. The caulk prevents water from entering these gaps, freezing, then expanding which radiates cracks. Using urethane caulk against the base of a building deters water from being directed towards the foundation and causing problems. The downside of this type of caulk is that it can take several days to cure completely, so maintenance must be scheduled accordingly. Anyone using urethane caulk should take precaution when applying as it is extremely difficult to remove from clothing and bare skin.
Caulk is a necessary, versatile product to help maintain a facility. However, one application of caulk is not a permanent solution. Over time, depending on the type of caulk, it does need to be reapplied. Caulk eventually will lose its elasticity, and crack due to the expanding and contracting of the structure where applied. In high moisture areas, the caulk may show signs of discoloration and mold if not properly dried after prolonged exposure to water. Re-application of caulk is part of any routine, preventative maintenance. A small price to pay for having the right product for the right circumstances.