If you are building a new home yourself, having a pro do it for you, or you are just renovating your bathroom, one of the things that you need to consider is how you will seal your bathtub to the wall and floor. After all, it does need to be sealed properly so that water doesn’t damage the surrounding walls and floors, and what is usually used for this is caulking.
Although caulking works fine, it’s not always the best type of sealant to go with for this purpose, and there are multiple reasons why this is the case. Right now, we are going to talk about why using caulking around the tub is not always the best choice, as well as what some of the best alternatives are.
Why Should You Consider Not Caulking Your Bathtub?
There are actually a few different reasons why.
The first reason why you may want to consider using an alternative to caulking around the tub is that it really doesn’t look all that nice. Sure, there are things that look worse, but also things that look much better too. It’s just a big, white, and bulky line. It’s not particularly ugly, but it certainly won’t allow you to win any bathroom of the year awards either. It looks chalky and pasty.
Just like with the look of caulking, although there are harder things to apply and to work with than caulking, there are also easier things too. The simple reality is that you need a caulking gun, caulking, a flattening tool, tape, and much more.
Moreover, applying caulking can be very messy, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. That stuff can get everywhere, and you make a mess. Cleaning it up is definitely not fun. Moreover, if you aren’t a pro, nearly an artist, when you apply the caulk, you may apply it unevenly, and that won’t look nice or work well.
3. Humidity Resistance
One of the biggest downfalls that caulking suffers from is that it is not very resistant to big temperature and humidity fluctuations. This is of course interesting to note because caulking is supposed to seal your tub to the walls and floors so that your bathroom does not get water damage.
Therefore, seeing as caulk is not overly resistant to temperature and humidity changes, it really does beg the question as to why people would use it at all. OK, so yes, it is waterproof, but fluctuations are another story. When caulking dries out rapidly it tends to crack, and when it gets wet quickly, it may peel. Rapid cooling can also cause it to crack, and rapid heating can cause it to come loose.
Well, when it comes to your bathroom and bathtub, these things constantly go from hot to cold, dry to wet, and the other way around, none of which will treat caulk very well.
4. Low Chemical Resistance
Yet another drawback that caulk suffers from is that it is not very resistant to chemicals. Sure, cleaners are great for removing limescale, hard water buildups, mold, mildew, and general dirt, but they don’t treat caulking well.
We aren’t going to start listing them off one by one, but there are tons of cleaning products that are not good for caulking. There are many cleaners that cause caulk to come loose, or in other words, make it lose its ability to bond with other surfaces and to create a seal, which therefore renders the caulk totally useless.
5. Potential Toxicity
Caulk is actually quite toxic, especially when it is not yet cured. Although dry and cured caulk is not much of an issue, wet and uncured caulk is. For one, there have been a few cases of people getting poisoned from caulk (children and pets who got it in their mouths), as well as some adverse reactions, mainly nasal inflammation, dizziness, and nausea, caused by the strong fumes that it emits as you apply it. Fresh caulk is really not something that you want to spend too much time around.
6. It’s Not Permanent
The other thing that needs to be considered here is that caulk, although it does last for some time, is definitely not 100% permanent. If you happen to have a big family with lots of people using the same tub every day, caulking may wear down and come off in just a few years, or in other words, you will end up having to strip the old caulking and apply new stuff every so often, which definitely is not convenient.
Caulk is made of latex, silicone, and/or acrylic, or a combination of all three, and none of those last forever (at least not in the way that caulk is made). There are more permanent solutions out there.
5 Alternatives to Caulking Around the Bathtub
Now that you know exactly why using caulking around the bathtub is not always the best choice, we can now take a look at some of the top alternatives and what advantages they have.
1. Sealant Tape
If what you are going for is the maximum ease of use and easy application, then something that we recommend trying instead of caulking is sealant tape. Sealant tape is generally made of silicone, and when used as a sealer in a bathtub, it makes for an excellent alternative.
This type of sealant tape provides a totally waterproof seal, it is easy to work with, and you don’t need a caulking gun either. What’s also nice about this stuff is that it often comes in the same colors as bathroom tiles, so you can match the colors and make it look nice.
Moreover, sealant tapes stick as well to porcelain as they do to wood, stone, and cement. However, do keep in mind that they won’t stick to vinyl. As long as you press the sealant tape down firmly and make sure to remove all old caulking first, there is not much that can go wrong.
2. Spray Foam
The next alternative to caulking around your bathtub is some spray foam, with one of the biggest advantages of it being that it is totally waterproof and very long-lasting too. One application of spray foam should last for many years to come, at least a decade. It’s very durable, the bond is not easily broken, and it’s resistant to temperature and humidity fluctuations too. In terms of creating a waterproof seal, expanding spray foam might just be your best bet.
That said, expanding spray foam does have some disadvantages, with one being that it just doesn’t look all that nice, and moreover, it can be a bit difficult to work with. This spray foam greatly expands when it comes out of the can, so if you apply too much, you will make a mess and have to remove it afterward, something that also won’t be enjoyable. Simply put, it can be a bit difficult to apply neatly.
3. Epoxy Sealer
Yet another alternative that works well instead of caulking is an epoxy resin sealer, something that is most often used for sealing countertops and other such things but works fine for this purpose too. One big advantage of epoxy resin sealant is that it will bond to all common bathtub and bathroom wall materials, so you should have no problems on that front.
Next, epoxy resin sealant results in a very smooth and glossy finish, so it does look pretty nice. What’s also cool is that colors and dyes can be added to it in order to make it colorful, and finally, once cured, it is 100% waterproof.
The only downside to it is that it can make quite the mess if you aren’t careful. OK, it might release strong fumes too, and it takes a while to cure. That being said, if you want something that looks nice and functions, then an epoxy resin sealer is a good choice.
4. Peel and Stick Trim
OK, so peel and stick trim or peel and stick cord is more or less like a wall molding or thin rope combined with sealant tape. You just peel the cover off of it and stick it where it needs to go. It is definitely waterproof and provides good protection, not to mention that it is easy to use and comes in all sorts of colors too.
That said, it still doesn’t look particularly appealing.
OK, so this one is a long shot, but that said, if you happen to have a fancy stone bathtub along with fancy stone walls, then, of course, mortar is always an option to consider, a strong, waterproof, and long-lasting option.
As you can see, there are plenty of good alternatives to using caulk around the bathtub. Which alternative you go with depends on what your final goals are. When it comes down to it, caulking is not the worst option so don’t worry too much.