The ultimate caulk paint compatibility test

The Ultimate caulk/paint Compatibility Test!!

Phill Southam


Now if you are reading this, it’s most probably because you have had a problem with caulk. Whether it’s cracked or discoloured, It’s frustrating. That is why I have researched and written this article about it. A lot of people presume the problem lies with the caulk alone, but it’s actually the paint that is the problem. It’s all down to the chemical makeup of the paint that is applied over the caulk. This really is the ultimate caulk / paint compatibility test and it will help you find the best decorators caulk to use.

Why is caulk cracking?

Caulk absorbs moisture from the paint, making it expand. The paint film dries first, then as the caulk dries it contracts, pulling the paint film apart. Another factor may be the caulk not being totally dry, the same thing happens again.


Why has caulk changed colour?

Almost 95% of all the water based acrylic sealants in the market contain plasticizers, and these plasticizers can migrate into the paint discolouring it. Depending on the binder and filler type of paint it may or may not happen.


The Caulk Compatibility Test

I decided to test “off the shelf” vinyl matts, all tinted similar to the Dulux colour ‘Polished Pebble’, although some came out slightly different. I put these against every caulk I could pick up from each merchant. I conducted the test on an MDF board primed white. I applied each caulk in even beads vertically, smoothed it out and left for 24 hours to dry. I then put a horizontal line of each paint crossing each caulk, 2 coats with 6 hours between coats.


The ultimate caulk paint compatibility test


The results

These where completely different to what I was expecting…

See for yourself.

The ultimate caulk paint compatibility test


So, it turns out the best “off the shelf” caulk for not cracking with other paints is Brewers Ultimate, Followed 2nd by Fat Hog standard, however that one did discolour.

The best paint was Albany which only very slightly cracked on some caulks. I found that caulks that discoloured, did so with every paint. One thing to note, the caulk lines were thick and smoothed out on a flat board, rather than an internal corner. So, this test may of exaggerated the pull on the paint when contracting due to bigger surface tension. Meaning the ones that “slightly cracked” you may get away with on a small bead. I have done a video below to show you the results.





And that was my ultimate caulk / paint compatibility test. I hope it will help you find the best decorators caulk to use on your own jobs. Check out the Decorators Forum

Phill Southam