“I need re grouting around my bathtub. Do you do that?” Very common question in my line of work. Yet, most of the time that’s not what they needed, they needed re caulking. It is a common mistake and I decided it’s time to help folks learn one from the other.
At first I was going to look up and quote a bunch of resources that would give the technical explanation of what grout does vs what caulk does, what they are made of and where/how they are used. But that is all out there for people to find on their own and get overwhelmed by it without my help!
I would rather make it simple to grasp and easy to remember. If I am not 100% ‘technically’ accurate it will not be in any way that could cause any harm or damage, I promise. My goal is to give you enough of an understanding to effectively ask for further help or research for yourself.
The purpose of today’s blog is two-fold:
- Provide a simple break down on what the difference is between grout and caulk.
- Explain why knowing the difference can matter to you.
Here are the basics:
Grout is used as filler for the necessary spaces in between tiles. It is hard and ‘sandy’. It can be colored to match or contrast with the tile it is being used with. Grout itself is basically porous but is generally followed up with something to block absorption for longer wear and sanitary reasons. When grout becomes damaged will usually chip, crack or crumble.
Caulk is soft, flexible, rubbery even. It is used most often along the edges and seams where two different surfaces meet. It is water-resistant, the main purpose of caulk is to seal a space to keep water from passing through. Older caulk that needs to be replaced may start peeling away from surfaces or showing signs of mildew or mold. There are a few specialty colors available now for caulk but the great majority that most of us see is white or clear.
The descriptions above should give enough of an understanding to help you take the next step in getting assistance or doing it yourself.
Knowledge is power! What else is important about knowing the difference between caulk and grout?
Some things to know:
Removing grout even if already chipped or broken needs to be done carefully with the right tools and techniques or it can easily lead to chipped and broken tiles!
Grout needs to mixed correctly and applied with special tools. Most grout has a drying time of at least 24 hours and then should have a proper sealer coat.
Grout color can be customized.
Caulking and re caulking can be true ‘do it yourself’ tasks. The only special tool required for caulking is the dispensing gun and even that isn’t always necessary, for some small applications you can get a caulk in a tube similar to toothpaste now.
Good caulking technique can take time to develop, but even a bad or messy looking job can be effective at the very important task of sealing an area when waterproofing is more important than appearance, like inside a cabinet or under a sink.
Removing old caulk can be done without special tools and not much risk to surrounding surfaces, it is also important to do before re applying caulk to any surface. Never just try to put new caulk over old, it doesn’t hold.
Caulk comes ready to apply. Drying time is for caulk is generally 4 hours or less.
Once you know what caulk actually is you will see the many other places it is used besides around the edge of the bathtub or sink; it is used to seal windows, baseboards, outdoor light fixtures the foundations around your house. You may notice it inside cabinets to seal small gaps and holes.
Please feel free to ask questions or make any comments that might enhance this subject. Correct me if I am wrong. Ask me to elaborate, let me know other subjects like this you might like me to cover.
Most importantly please let me know if it helped, as that is my main goal in writing this blog!
Thanks for visiting The Fix-It Lass!
Oh, and to answer the question: currently I do caulking but not grout….hoping to add those tools and skills to my repertoire very soon!!