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Which is better for sealing a shower surround? Acrylic sealant or silicone based?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ April 1, 2010 ~ Comments

I just installed a 3 piece shower in the basement during a renovation project and noticed the contractor had sealed the joints with silicone as recommended. However he did not do a very good looking job and I want to tidy it up as well as seal around the perimeter to the drywall. Local suppliers have told me not to use silicone on acrylic surfaces as it will not hold. They suggest I use mono Ultra which is an water based acrylic latex product.

Heinz B. ~ Kingston, Ontario

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Heinz, I will have to say I have never heard that before, but I will also say that after almost 30 years in the construction business, I still learn something new every day. I have used silicone in bathrooms for many years because it has the ability to give a little without cracking. When someone steps into a shower the base is going to move a little from the shower surround, whether they are shower panels or a tiled surround. Acrylic latex caulk tends to dry hard. It is good for sealing something outside, or on interior trim where you will be painting over it. But I have used silicone in bathrooms and kitchens when doing a renovation, and never had a problem with it.

In your contractor's defense, silicone is more difficult to apply than acrylic latex caulk, and sometimes appears to be sloppy no matter how careful one is. The best silicone caulk I have used is made by GE, the same company that makes electrical appliances. It is a little more expensive than others, but is supposed to last longer. It is available in several colors, and I would think it would be available in Kingston, Ontario. You may want to follow the advice of those local suppliers, though. They could very well know something that I don't. If the acrylic latex caulk doesn't work out, you can always replace it with silicone. It is much easier to remove latex caulk than silicone, as you should find out when you start removing the silicone that is there now.

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