There was once a time when it didn’t really matter which decorators caulk you used on a job, because it all pretty much did the same thing. You’d squeeze it into a gap, smooth it off, wait an hour and then paint over it. You’d get good results every time.
However, now things are a little more complicated. Formula changes in both paint and caulk (mostly driven by cost cutting) have meant that if you now use a bad quality caulk, or the wrong process, then you’ll experience problems such as crazing and discolouring.
There are steps you can take to avoid these problems, which include priming the caulk before painting over with a finish-product. Or cutting down on the amount of decorators caulk used in a gap. However, the easiest way to avoid problems is to just use a good quality caulk. To that end, I thought I’d put a quick guide together on the best decorators caulk products available.
As a Painter and Decorator, I’ve been using caulk for many years and I’ve tried loads. I’m going to recommend 3 or 4 products, then we’ll have a loot at what other Decorators have to say.
No messing around, HB42 is officially the best decorators caulk on the market according to Professional Decorators on an online forum. It’s probably my favourite caulk too. It’s reasonably priced (which makes its performance ever more impressive). It’s easy to use, widely available, can be used inside or out, and you won’t experience any crazing or discolouration when you paint over it.
I love this caulk, and it’s one I use on a regular basis. It reminds me of how caulk used to be before we started experiencing problems all the time. It’s just easy and hassle free. I fully recommend.
This is a caulk that I personally didn’t like, but other Decorators seem to love it, and I can see where they’re coming from. I’m not a fan because I find it difficult to apply. It’s quite soft and loose, so you can’t apply too much at once or it will go everywhere. It can be a little bit messy at the best of times.
OneTime Rec Devil
This is an old favourite for me, simply because it works well outside and seems to last. It feels dryer than the other caulk products on this list, so don’t overwork it on application or it will bead up. However, applying thick beads is relatively easy to do without creating a mess. You won’t see any crazing, however I have noticed a little bit of discolouration when I have painted over the caulk with emulsion.
XPRO StixSeal Ultra Strong Sealant & Trade Adhesive
This is a little bit of a wild card, simply because XPRO StixSeal isn’t technically a Decorators Caulk, although you can use it as caulk. It’s an adhesive, sealant and caulk in one. This makes it perfect for use in bathrooms, around windows, or the outside of your home.
Its adhesion qualities are great for a few reasons. If, say your skirting boards have cracked around the top because they are starting to become loose, XPRO StixSeal will stick them back into place as you caulk them. It fixes two problems at once.
It’s also very flexible, which makes it great for caulking stair stringers etc, where you experience a lot of movement. There are other products like this on the market, but XPRO seems the easiest to use.
They are my recommendations on the best decorators caulk products. If you have been experiencing problems with yours, then switch to one of the above products and everything should go a lot smoother. I know I talk about four products on this list, but you won’t go far wrong sticking with HB42 or XPRO StixSeal.
If you already have a load of cheap decorators caulk and you don’t want to waste it, then you could try priming it with acrylic primer before painting with your finish product. This will avoid crazing and discolouring. If you already have crazing then try priming your crazed caulk with Zinsser Peel Stop.
Best Decorators Caulk – by Mike Gregory
What Other Decorators Think is the Best Caulk
This is a poll on a forum of Professional Decorators. HB42 got around four times as many votes as the next leading brand.
Den Braven is my usual choice, but it depends on what you’re doing with it. Caulk is only a problem with water-based finishes or emulsion paints. I dare say you could use any caulk if using oil-based.
Fat Hog Caulk used to be good until they messed around with the formula. Now it seems clunky when you use it.
I would say HB42 is the best general caulk on the market. You can use it anywhere and it has great flexibility. I get mine from Crown Decorating Centre.
It does everything that an expensive caulk does, but it’s off the shelf and fairly cheap.