Bathroom caulk is a useful part of any tile installation, but particularly those involving glass tiles, shower pans and bathtubs. In these highly visible areas, it can also be extremely helpful to know when to use colored caulks that match either the grout, the tile or the tub itself to help hide them from view.
Colored Caulk versus Non-Colored Caulk
When faced with a wall of caulk options at the home improvement store, you may wonder if colored caulk is a better option than non-colored caulk for your home. Both options have their pros and their cons, so choose wisely to get the results you're after.
Colored caulk is typically latex-based and is made to match the grout used between the tiles. It can be sanded or unsanded like the grout and is usually available in up to 20 or 30 shades that can help blend the joint in to the rest of the installation.
Colored caulk is the best choice for installations where the tile is a dark or deep color, colored grout is used throughout the rest of the installation and with glass tile installations. Use it to blend the expansion joints into the surrounding tiles without calling attention to them.
Non-colored caulk can also be latex based, but may be silicone as well. Silicone caulks last longer than latex based caulks do, so if you have a tub or area that continuously needs re-caulking, silicone may be the answer.
Non-colored caulks are typically chosen for use with white tiles or between the tub and surrounding walls of a cultured marble or acrylic unit. The latex version is identical to that of the colored version; the silicone version is white to clear and may yellow slightly over time.
Purchasing Colored Bath Caulk
Your best option for getting a colored bath caulk is to go directly to your grout manufacturer. Caulks and grouts are colored in the same way with the same pigment; this will ensure that if you choose a colored caulk to seamlessly finish an installation that it will blend in perfectly with the surrounding joints.
Keep in mind that if you attempt to match a colored caulk to a tile or existing installation that the store samples are usually one shade darker than the actual product. Purchase a colored caulk that is a shade darker than you think would work based on the samples; it will lighten up to the perfect shade once installed.
Projects Involving Colored Caulk
While colored caulk can be used to fill the expansion joints in any tile installation, it can also be used in a number of other ways.
Take the Place of Grout
Did you lose a small amount of grout out of a tile installation? Rather than mixing up a big, 10 pound bag and spreading it over the area, use a tube of colored caulk instead. Just point the caulk gun at the missing grout joint and fill. Smooth it down with your finger and let it dry. It will blend in perfectly with the surrounding joints. Just be sure to purchase sanded caulk for floor applications and unsanded for walls.
Trim a Mirror with Glass Tiles and Colored Caulk
Add a quick pick-me-up to your bathroom design with a few sheets of glass mosaic tiles, some grout/mortar combo and a tube of colored caulk. Cut the sheets of glass to a few rows wide. Spread a little grout/mortar over the back of each sheet and press the strips around the frame of a mirror. Leave about 1/8-inch between the bottom row and the counter, the inner rows and the mirror and any adjacent walls.
Press down hard with your fingers to push the grout/mortar between the tiles to fill the joints. Fill in any remaining joints with the colored caulk. Run a thin bead of colored caulk around the inner and outer perimeter of the tile rows to fill in the joints and cement the glass tiles into place. Within an hour, you'll have a custom mirror frame above your vanity.
Seal Windows and Baseboards
Caulk is used to fill up any expansion joint in and around your home. While you won't want to use bath caulk outdoors, you can use it to seal the areas around baseboards and windows. Just select a color that complements your wall color and apply it carefully for a seamless joint that requires no painting.
Remember the Color Name and Number
If you do choose to use colored caulk in a bathroom installation, save the label with the name and number for future reference. Caulk typically needs to be replaced every few years; save yourself the headache of trying to match the color by going straight to the company that makes it and ordering it directly. This will keep your bathroom looking great for years to come.