How to Paint Over Silicone Caulk without Any Issues

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

Not all caulk is created equal. Some caulk is paintable, whereas most silicone caulk will cause the paint to simply slip right off because the surface of the caulk is so smooth and slippery.

Silicone caulk is often used in bathrooms and around doors and windows due to its waterproofing capabilities. It is a great sealant for nonporous materials like metal and ceramic tiles. You’ll find it near your shower, sink, toilet, and windows.

You may find yourself needing to paint silicone caulk, and wondering how you can apply the paint without having it slide right off. It is actually pretty simple to prepare silicone caulk to be painted. You’ll need only a few materials and a bit of time on your hands.

Here’s the process of painting over silicone caulk in a nutshell:

  1. Apply denatured alcohol
  2. Apply a new layer of acrylic latex caulk
  3. Apply either an oil-based or a shellac primer
  4. Start painting after allowing the primer to dry for several hour

Materials Needed

Step 1: Apply Denatured Alcohol

The first step in painting over silicone caulk is to sand it gently by applying denatured alcohol (if you don’t have it already, you can get it from Amazon). Make sure that you are wearing gloves, as denatured alcohol can damage your skin.

After you put your gloves on, take a rag and dip it in the denatured alcohol. Wipe it over the surface of the caulk until the caulk feels and looks like it has a rougher texture than before.

The denatured alcohol will act like sandpaper and make the surface of the caulk easier for other substances to adhere to.

There is no need to dry the caulk after applying the alcohol, as denatured alcohol evaporates very quickly.

Step 2: Apply a New Layer of Acrylic Latex Caulk

The next step when painting over silicone caulk is to lay a thin bead of acrylic latex caulk on top of it. Some people skip this step when painting over silicone caulk, but it is recommended that you do this step to help the paint stick.

Paint holds much easier to the surface of acrylic latex caulk than to the surface of silicone caulk, even after sanding and using oil based primer. Because of this, it’s important to lay a new bead of acrylic latex caulk over the existing silicone caulk before painting.

Take your caulk gun and fit the tube of acrylic latex caulk into it. It can be a bit tricky to use caulk if you’ve never done it before, so take a piece of cardboard to practice on if it’s your first time.

It’s probably a good idea to wear gloves, especially if you’re new to caulking, because the caulk will likely get everywhere.

Cut the tip of the caulk tube off close to the end so that there is a small hole. Squeeze the trigger of the gun slowly and carefully until a small amount of caulk comes out of the tip of the tube.

Then, start moving the caulk gun slowly so that a line of caulk forms. This is called laying a bead of caulk.

Repeat this process, laying a bead of acrylic latex caulk over all the existing silicone caulk. If the caulk appears bumpy or too thick, you can take your finger or a rag and smooth it out.

Step 3: Apply Primer

After you’ve put down a new bead of acrylic latex caulk and smoothed it out to ensure that there are no gaps, you are ready to apply primer.

You can either use an oil-based primer with a paintbrush or apply a spray Shellac primer over the acrylic latex caulk. Either of these options will provide a surface that your paint will stick to easily.

Make sure that you get the primer to cover every surface that you intend to paint. If you miss an area, the paint may not stick well to it and will peel up later on.

Step 4: Paint!

Before applying paint, ensure that you’ve given your primer several hours of drying time. Once this time has passed, take your paintbrushes and oil-based paint and apply two layers of paint. Again, you’ll need to allow a few hours of drying time between layers.

If you can still see the primer through the first two layers of paint, feel free to add as many layers as you need to hide the primer. If need be, you can apply masking tape around difficult to paint areas to ensure that your work is neat and tidy.

In Conclusion

It is very simple to paint over silicone based caulk if you have the right materials and tools.

You’ll need to wear down the surface of the silicone caulk, apply new acrylic latex caulk over the top of the old caulk, apply an oil-based primer by brushing or spraying it on, and finally applying two coats of oil-based paint on top.

About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

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