What To Do If Bathroom Caulk Not Drying?


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plumber apply silicone sealant to the joint bathtubs and ceramic tile

Caulking is an essential part of the bathroom. This sealant helps ensure that the moisture will not seep into surfaces. It is also airtight and is the sealant of choice for doors and windows. The caulk needs to be appropriately applied; otherwise, you will be left with a subpar sealant that won’t be able to do its job. One of the most common issues people will encounter regarding the caulk is the time it takes for it to dry.

Several factors may cause a caulk not to dry within the expected time. From the temperature to the humidity of the area, you need to determine the cause to avoid repeating the caulking process more times than necessary. In this article, we will enumerate all the probable reasons for the caulk not drying and ways to fix said problems. 

Causes of the Caulk Not Drying Properly

Caulk is generally used to seal gaps within the bathroom. From the shower stall to the bathtub, the caulk is essential to keep water from going into places it shouldn’t go to. Now, the bathroom is the house area that has the highest level of humidity. This high humidity can affect caulking as the moisture in the air can cause the caulk to expand and break. This points us to the most common reason why caulks do not dry.

The Bathroom’s Temperature and Humidity

If you find that the caulk is having a hard time drying, the most common reason will be that your bathroom is either too hot or too humid. In some cases, even both. To avoid this, make sure to open up the door and windows to improve the air circulation in the bathroom. As long as you are aware of this factor, you can pretty much avoid the caulk not drying. It would be best to be mindful of other factors before applying the caulk in the bathroom. 

Incorrect Caulk Installation

Besides the temperature and humidity of the room, another common cause of why caulks are not drying correctly is improper installation or application. It is imperative to nail the caulking on the first go, and here are some tips you should keep in mind to achieve the desired results:

  • Do not rush the caulk application.
  • Do not use too much caulk. 
  • Do not use a caulk that is past its expiration date.
  • Do not let the caulk tube get too hard before using it. 

The caulk will typically require anywhere between an hour to 24 hours (in some cases, even more) to dry thoroughly. Therefore, using too much caulk will cause to spill over the edges, which is not aesthetically pleasing. To avoid this issue, remember to be careful when applying caulk. For example, if you are sealing a ¾-inch gap, make sure only to use and fill about a quarter of an inch. 

Also, it would help if you had a decent-quality caulking gun. We recommend updating to a new model if yours is already a couple of years old as newer models come with some extra convenience features. Finally, please do not use the caulk as an adhesive as it is not designed for that functionality. 

The Wrong Type of Caulk is Used

There are three main types of caulk available: acrylic, silicone, and latex variants. It is also important to note that these two caulk types have fundamental differences. 

Latex caulk is more flexible and is ideal for filling small gaps and spaces. Latex caulk is also available in a wide variety of colors, making it a suitable option for sealing painted walls and surfaces. 

On the other hand, the silicone caulk is tougher and more rigid but does not have the level of adhesion that latex offers. Silicone caulk is also available in several colors and is generally more expensive than the latex variant. 

The acrylic caulk is the most commonly used nowadays, especially for sealing bathtubs. Acrylic variants are the most well-rounded of the three in that it is usable underwater, does not expand or contract, and maintain their shape.

In addition, the acrylic caulk can also repair cracks on most bathroom fixtures.

If you really need your caulking project to be ready quickly, you should really consider getting a quick-drying acrylic caulk, some of these on the market are ready to be painted in as little as 30 mins.

Caulk Drying Factors

First off, let us clarify that there is a difference between the caulk drying time and the cure time. Some caulk products will become dry after a couple of minutes but won’t be genuinely ‘cured’ until days later. 

Below are factors that affect the overall drying time of caulks.

The Formula Used in the Caulk

Some fast-drying caulks will still take some time, and you should always read the label carefully. While the product might be marketed with a one-hour drying time, a closer inspection will reveal the time in an ideal condition. On average, a quick-drying caulk will still require about a total of 24 hours to cure. 

Of course, the type of caulk will play a factor in the equation with the polyurethane variants requiring the longest time of about ten days to cure fully. 

Different Types of Caulk React Differently to Moisture

Drying time will also depend on the type of caulk you used. A polyurethane caulk, for example, must be dry at all times after application. This means that it should not contact water for about three days to an entire week. 

The acrylic caulk offers more convenience as this type will need to have any moisture from the material dissipate. In addition, you can speed up the acrylic caulk drying process by pointing a fan directly into the bathroom for enhanced air circulation. 

The last one is the silicone type which needs moisture to cure fully. To speed up the curing process of silicone caulk, we recommend placing a humidifier in the room.

The Room’s Temperature

When applying caulk, the ideal temperature should be between 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 4.4 to 27 degrees Celsius. When caulking in the winter, using the latex and polyurethane types might cause them to become frozen solid. It is not advisable to caulk your bathroom in the winter when it is constantly in freezing temperatures. 

Final Thoughts

Silicone caulk gun icons set, isometric style in white background

Caulk is an essential item when it comes to home improvement. However, you should always be aware of several factors that affect the quality and performance of caulk. From the type of caulk you are using to the room’s temperature, all of these will factor into how well the sealant will dry. To get a more specific dry time, always read the manufacturer’s label.

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