The type of caulk you choose to use for your bathroom tub enclosure needs to withstand a great deal of moisture, heat and, of course, water. The different types of caulk most often used as bathroom grout between tiles, wall panels and tub and shower enclosures have specific pros and cons. Caulk’s main purpose is to fill in gaps between tiles, walls and fixtures, or seal the seams of wall panels.
The tub and shower surfaces in the bathroom are the areas that get the most direct water contact. Along with constant bombardment with water, the caulked areas in those zones also have to contend with a lot of moist heat that breads mold and mildew. The caulk used in these areas needs to be resilient, extremely water-proof, and also mold/mildew resistant. Silicone caulk is best for areas that are very prone to mold and mildew, or water damage. It is resilient and the most water-proof of all the types of caulk. One negative aspect of silicone caulk is it smells bad while being applied. Select silicone for bathroom projects only if the water contact is constant. Silicone caulk lasts up to thirty years.
Acrylic caulk is very popular in bathrooms because it dries to a shiny white, stays white and resists mold for long periods of time and throughout exposure to temperature changes. Acrylic caulk also accepts paint and blends in nicely along wall seams. Acrylic caulks do not last as long as silicone, but they are more pleasant to work with. Silicones have a strong odor while applying and drying. Acrylics are odorless. The acrylics dry faster than silicone, too. Acrylic caulk lasts up to ten years between applications.
Latex caulk is very resilient, easy to apply and lasts almost as long as silicone based caulk. Latex caulk is very popular for bathroom tub enclosure projects because it lasts up to twenty-five years before needing replacement. Latex caulk is very easy to handle, and if you make a mistake applying latex caulk it wipes clean with water and a towel. Latex caulk also has no odor during application or drying. Latex typically need re-application every twenty-five years. However, the one drawback to latex vs. acrylic caulk is that latex does not accept paint. Latex caulk is a good choice if your bathtub has a metal shower door surround as the latex caulk adheres to the metal surfaces well, and can take the temperature extremes of the bathroom.