Should I Apply Caulk Before Or After Painting?

When you paint walls in your house, you have to apply both caulk and paint. Caulking can help you fix little imperfections on your walls and make them look like brand new.

Often, people don’t know if you have to apply caulk before or after painting, and you might be wondering the same. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered here.

It’s important that you follow the right order for the finish to be perfect and for it to last longer. In this article, you can find out which of the two you should apply first, no matter what you’re painting.

So keep on reading to find out more about caulking after and before painting, types of caulk, layering, and much more information to help you achieve the perfect finish!

Caulk After Painting

Should I Apply Caulk Before Or After Painting?

You can choose to caulk after painting. Just so that you know, both the before and after methods are acceptable. It just depends on what you’re trying to achieve. 

Some people prefer to caulk after painting, as caulking before painting can sometimes lead the caulk to discolor and ruin your project. 

So here are a few things you can do if you want to avoid this.

First, you can use transparent caulk over the paint to not ruin the design. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last too long, so you’ll have to do it regularly. 

You could also use the same caulk color as your finished paint in a very thin layer. Caulk is less visible in a thin layer anyway, so we advise you to only use small quantities from your tube. However, you don’t want it to be so thin that it doesn’t cover any holes.

To apply caulk, you can just use a caulk gun and apply it in a straight line, following your wall. You will feel like a pro, and the results will be professional as well.

Caulk Before Painting

Should I Apply Caulk Before Or After Painting?

You could also use caulk before painting. 

This means you can then paint over any mistakes you make and cover them up. This can take away the pressure of using caulk after painting, especially if this is your first time.

There are a few steps you can follow to caulk before painting.

Firstly, you need to clean the wall surface you’re painting so dirt doesn’t get in and ruin the process. It’s essential that you wipe any dust off and that you keep the wall dry. Otherwise, the caulk won’t stick if the wall is damp or dirty.

Then, you should cut the tip of the caulking tube in an angular way to avoid any mess. This will make it easier to apply the caulk and will also make the caulk look straighter and neater. 

If you cut your caulk tube angularly, there’s no need to use a tool, line, or another tube to make it straight.

To use the tube efficiently and not waste any caulk, get into a comfortable position where you can keep the tube steady and apply the caulk neatly and straight. Then, just move along with the caulking gun to have a consistently professional result. 

When you’re dealing with an end or a corner, you can define these with masking tape. This can help you achieve your required finish without too much effort and will make the edges more defined.

For a smoother finish, use a tool or even your finger when it’s done. You don’t want a blunt end. It won’t be pleasant for the eyes.

Always have paper towels near you in case of caulk spills from the tube. Also, you can regularly clean the tips with a paper towel, so they don’t stick to the surface.

Types Of Caulk

Should I Apply Caulk Before Or After Painting?

There are several types of caulk. It can be intimidating when you step into the home store to buy caulk for your painting project. 

All the caulk tubes look very similar, but they each serve a specific purpose. So don’t worry, we’ll give you a list of the ones you could need below, along with each of their uses.

So here are the six main types of caulk. However, you should know that the two more important for your home are acrylic and silicone caulk.

Hopefully, you can find the right type of caulk for the type of job you’re doing!

Acrylic Latex Caulk

This is a general-purpose caulk that you can use for several types of applications. Not only is it cheap, but it’s also fast-drying. It’s sometimes referred to as the “painter’s caulk” because you can paint with it.

So what’s not to love about this caulk? 

As for specific uses for this acrylic latex caulk, you can use it to fill small gaps or blemishes in wood trim. You can also use it to seal joints in between wood parts that you’re going to paint. 

Ideally, you should use acrylic latex caulk on dry areas, even if the label says that it’s also appropriate for wet areas. 

Unfortunately, acrylic latex caulk can’t repel moisture. It can crack or even shrink, when wet. So despite its claims, it doesn’t work for everything!

Butyl Rubber Caulk

Butyl rubber caulk is only useful for outdoor use. It can get really sticky and messy. It’s a good sealant for masonry and metal. It’s also good for joints, like gutters or any other larger joints.

Latex Caulk With Silicone

Latex or even acrylic caulk with silicone is more moisture-resistant than acrylic latex caulk. It’s also known as “tub and tile” caulk.

This type of caulk is also more durable and flexible, so it can be more interesting to use if there’s moisture involved.

You can even use latex caulk with silicone for exposed applications that don’t need too much waterproofing. However, it won’t work for bathroom fixtures or tiles, even if its name suggests otherwise. If you need something for these, we recommend you use pure silicone caulk instead.

Masonry Repair Caulk

Masonry Repair Caulk

If you need caulk to seal cracks or even expansion joints outdoors on concrete surfaces, try the masonry repair caulk. You can also use it to fill cracks in masonry-stucco walls.

Pure Silicone Caulk

This is probably the most expensive type of caulk on this list, but pure silicone caulk is worth it for jobs that involve water damage. So it’s ideal for bathrooms or tiles, unlike the tub and tile caulk.

This type of caulk usually lasts a long time and is very flexible, so the cost is usually worth it. However, this caulk is not paintable, as it’s 100% silicone. So it won’t be useful for you if you have to do a painting project. It’s also not recommended for windows, doors, or roof jobs.

However, you can use pure silicone for tiles, plumbing fixtures like toilets, sinks, faucets, or any joints in wet areas. You can also use it like glue, as it’s really strong and adhesive. 100% silicone can glue fixtures and undermount sinks. 

Refractory Caulk

Refractory caulk, aka fireplace caulk, is a great high-temperature sealant that can help you fill small cracks in concrete, bricks, and additional masonry material such as chimneys or fireplaces; hence its name.

Just so that you know, refractory caulk should only be used for small repairs and not act as a masonry replacement. It’s only useful for small repairs like filling the gaps between bricks in chimneys or fireplaces.

Which One Should You Use?

You can paint over acrylic caulk, which gives you flexibility. It’s even referred to as the “painter’s caulk”. So for a painting job, it’s the best one. 

As for silicone caulk, you can use it for fixes in wet or damp environments. But it’s not paintable, so it’s not appropriate for you if you want to paint.

Can You Put A Second Layer Of Caulk?

caulk gun sealing

Yes, you can put a second layer of caulk. However, we recommend you don’t overlay it. That’s because you might ruin the finish. Better start from scratch if you mess it up. We don’t want you to get frustrated with the untidy finish!

Also, you need to know what you’re doing. So if this is your first time using caulk, we would discourage you from putting a second layer of caulk.

That’s especially true for silicone caulk, as this type of caulk isn’t always a great bonding surface. So the seal might not be as good, and it would be better to start from the top. 

If you do choose to put a second layer of caulk, make sure you use acrylic caulk and follow the right method.

There are some cases where you really can’t overlay. You can’t do that over moldy caulk, for example, or oven broken or cracked caulk. Otherwise, the mold can grow, or you can end up with a messy finish. 

This also damages the layer base, and the second one will be very fragile. In these situations, it’s better not to put a second layer on. Otherwise, you will have to start from scratch.


Here’s a quick FAQ section to give you even more details on caulk and help you decide if you should apply caulk before or after painting. Both methods are acceptable, so it depends on your situation and the result you’re trying to achieve!

Is it ok to caulk after painting?

Yes, it is ok to caulk after painting, as we’ve mentioned above, to get a really good final finish and do a few touch-ups. To do so, just follow the steps we’ve mentioned above. 

You should wait at least 24 hours after you paint, ideally a week. If you don’t let it dry properly, your paint can crack. 

Why do you caulk before painting?

You can also caulk before painting. This way, if you make any mistakes, paint can then cover it up.

You can caulk after you clean your wall and it’s dry. There can’t be any dirt or dust on it, as it would ruin the final result.

For new surfaces, you should also prime before you caulk. This can make both the painting and the caulk last longer and give you a professional result.

In our section above, you can find all the steps to caulk before painting.

Do you have to wait for the caulk to dry before painting?

Yes, you have to wait for the caulk to dry before painting. Otherwise, it’s all for nothing, and you will have to restart the process from scratch.

Follow the instructions on the packaging of your caulk to know exactly how long you should let it dry before you paint. 

For painting, you usually use acrylic caulk, which can take at least 24 hours to dry.

If you don’t wait long enough and if you paint before the caulk is dry, the paint can crack, peel, bubble, distort, and even shrink. That’s because you can trap moisture in between the layers. And you don’t want that after all that effort!

Ideally, you should wait a week for the caulk to properly dry before you paint. So be patient and wait for it to be dry before you do any type of painting.

Final Thoughts

Caulk can help keep moisture away, and conceal any cracks or gaps. You can apply it before or after painting. There’s no mandatory order.

On one hand, caulking before painting offers the advantage that you can cover up any mistakes really easily. On the other hand, caulking after painting leaves you with a more professional finish, but it’s a bit more difficult.

We recommend you not to apply two layers, as this can really damage your layers, make them messy and more fragile. Plus, you would have to start the entire process from scratch again!

Ideally, when you apply caulk, use acrylic caulk on dry surfaces, as it’s perfect for small fixtures. It gives you a lot of flexibility, and it’s the most commonly used one for home repairs. Just don’t use it in any wet or humid environment.

Caulk away!

Scroll to Top

Get tailored advice & exclusive content

Join our exclusive 2,500+ email list to get tailored advice, product roundups, and be the first to see our new content. No spam, we promise.