Do you know what caulk is? If you are a DIYer, you should know, and you would probably be able to tell the difference between caulking and grout. The former is a material used for sealing joints in various structures and piping, whilst the latter is used to fill voids and sealing joints like those between tiles.
An expert DIYer, like you are, should probably know how to upgrade your space with a DIY kitchen island, how to tile a bathroom, or even how to paint both bathroom and kitchen tiles. But, do you know how to repair the gap between the counters and the walls? Nope? Then, you’re very lucky! We will show you how to caulk a countertop to a wall and a few more details. Ready? Let’s dive in!
Types of caulk and the best for countertops
There’s a variety of caulk types. We have gathered all the types, plus a few details for each one, to help you understand the differences between the caulk types and help you choose the best one for your needs:
1. Pure silicone caulk
This type is the best to use when you have to deal with areas exposed to water. It is 100% silicone, that’s why it’s a bit more expensive than the others. Most products are also mildew-resistant. Its main disadvantage is that you can’t paint over it.
You can use this one to seal sinks, toilets, faucets and any tile joints exposed to water. What’s even better is that you can apply it to waterproof blemishes and holes in exterior walls, around pipes and wiring, or fill gaps of almost any material. Furthermore, pure silicone is a strong adhesive. That means that you can glue under-mount sinks and fixture attachments to stone and any other hard-to-glue material. Plus, it will adhere to ceramic tiles, porcelain, glass, metal, wood and granite.
2. Acrylic latex caulk
This is a general-purpose type. Its pros are that it is inexpensive and fast-drying, plus you can use it for different applications. Its major advantage is that it is paintable. That’s why you may see it labelled as a painter’s caulk.
You can fill small gaps in drywall or wood trim and seal joints between wood areas that you will paint afterwards. This type is better to be used in dry areas, even though the manufacturer claims that it is suitable for wet areas.
3. Latex caulk with silicone (or acrylic caulk)
This one is more moisture resistant and durable due to the silicone. You can apply it in the same areas as the previous one, plus in unpainted parts that need extra waterproof protection. It’s also called “tube and tile” caulk. However, if you want to apply it in the bathroom, you better avoid it and opt for the one mentioned below, pure silicone caulking.
4. Butyl rubber caulk
It’s probably the messiest type. Its main purpose is for outdoor use. Butyl rubber caulk is the best product when it comes to sealing metal, masonry and joints prone to move due to expansion and contraction, like gutters. You can also use it for filling larger joints used with a caulking rod or backer rod. Finally, there are many formulas you can paint over them.
5. Refractory caulk
It is also known as fireplace caulk, as it is a high-temperature sealant. You can use it to fill small cracks in concrete, brick and any other masonry material. But, it’s best to be applied in masonry fireplaces and chimneys. Just keep in mind that this type of caulk is suitable only for small repairs. Don’t use it as a masonry replacement.
6. Masonry repair caulk
It’s a versatile caulk used for sealing cracks and joints in driveways and other outdoor concrete surfaces prone to move due to expansion. You can also use it for filling cracks in masonry stucco walls. The good news is that there are many formulas available made with polyurethane, plus some contain sand as well, providing a masonry-like texture.
Now that you know the available caulk types, let’s see what’s the right one for your kitchen or bathroom countertops. To tell you the truth, it depends on the counter’s material.
- If you have granite countertops<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, you should use pure silicone as it blends with the surface and it’s water-resistant.
- For laminate countertops, you can opt for latex, acrylic or silicone. Just get the one that matches your counter’s colour.
- If you want to repair water damage, silicone caulking is the best.
How to caulk the gap between the countertop and the wall
A gap between the kitchen counter and the wall or backsplash is something you can’t avoid. Even if you have installed a kitchen tile backsplash on your own or an expert has to do it, at some point, a gap eventually will appear. Hopefully, hiding the gap is a DIY task.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with your home improvement project.
- A drill
- A flat pry bar
- Wood shims
- Painter’s tape
- Caulking gun
- A utility knife
- A putty knife
- A rag
- Rubbing alcohol
Steps to follow
1. Raise the cabinets
First, you need to close the gap as much as possible by bringing the counter closer to the wall. Here’s how to do it:
- Find the screws that hold the unit to the wall. They’re near the top.
- Use the drill and a No.2 Phillips bit to remove them.
- Next, insert the flat pry bar under the toe kick, pry up the front of the cabinet, and push the counter close to the wall.
- When you raise it, insert wood shims under the toe kick to keep it in this position.
- It’s time to refasten the cabinet. Use the drill again and drive the screws into the holes.
2. Prepare the surface
Using a putty knife, remove the old caulk. However, it isn’t always necessary to remove it. You can also apply a wider bead of caulk over the old one. The new bead will stick to the surfaces where there’s no caulk at all. You just need to be sure that there’s no oil left on the old caulk. Otherwise, the new caulk won’t stick. Once you have removed it, clean up the area using rubbing alcohol and scrubbing it with a rag. Now, you can apply the painter’s tape to cover the areas around the joint where you don’t want to caulk.
3. Prepare the caulk
Get the tube of your chosen caulk and cut off the plastic tip with a utility knife. If you have a small or a large gap, you should adjust the width of the holes. But, if you have uneven gaps, you should cut it up to 6.35mm in width to be able to control the flow. Then, using a 16d nail, puncture the tube seal and insert it into the caulk gun. Pump the trigger until the caulk starts to flow. When it does, stop pumping.
4. Caulk the gap
Now you’re ready to apply the filler. Hold the caulk gun at a 45-degree angle over the gap, ensuring that the tip is nearly close to the gap. Squeeze or pump the trigger to make the filler come out. When it starts to emerge, move the gun slowly along the gap. When you finish, remove the gun away and cover the tip immediately with a rag to prevent the mess.
Once you’re done, you need to smooth the bead and create a concave surface. This job is called tooling. You can do it either by running your finger along with it or using a rounded plastic tool specifically made for this job. Your finger, though, can do the trick. While running your finger along with the bead, remember to clean excess caulk from it regularly using a rag. When you finish, clean your finger with acetone.
Why does a countertop separate from a wall?
- Faulty installation: One possible reason is the faulty installation. The installer should attach the countertop to the wall following a specific process.
- Faulty countertop: A gap may also occur between the counter and the wall due to the flaw of the former. This may also depend on the type of counter. For example, if the kitchen countertop is laminate, it’s likely to develop bulges due to moisture. If you have a granite countertop, then flaws in the sheet may be the culprit of the proper fitting of the counter in a straight line against the wall.
- Weight of cabinets: Many homeowners add cabinets above the counter. This is an excellent way to add extra storage space in the kitchen; however, this pressure and extra weight cause movements in the counter, leading to a gap.
- Shrinkage: Movement and shrinkage in the floor are likely to move the countertop creating a gap slightly.
Having said all that, we hope that you will repair every gap between your counters and the walls on your own from now on. It’s pretty easy, don’t you think? You don’t have to do much. Just remove the old caulking, apply the new one and press it with your finger. And that’s all! Nothing more, nothing less!