Silicone caulk is one of the most popular sealants. It serves numerous household and professional applications, from sealing around plumbing fixtures to waterproofing the areas around doors and windows. The only problem is that it can take days to cure – and during all this time, the finish is prone to peeling. Now, are you wondering if there are ways to cure silicone caulk faster? Luckily, there are. Check them out below.
How To Cure Silicone Caulk Faster
Containing no water, silicone caulk only starts to cure and hardens when exposed to oxygen. Direct heat and ventilation won’t help you cure it faster. However, there are a few ways to speed up the process.
1. Pay Attention To Application
Applying silicone caulk correctly is the first step to speedy its curing process. You should always read the product label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the application temperature and curing time.
Aside from the environmental conditions, ensure that you’re applying the right quantity of caulk in an even layer.
To do that, always cut the seal under the nozzle cap at an angle (more or less 45 degrees). This helps the applicator tip to dispense the caulk in a slim line – keep in mind that you can control the line thickness by holding the nozzle closer (thicker) or farther away (thinner) from the surface.
In addition to the nozzle opening angle, you should also hold the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle while dispensing the caulk. Use consistent pressure on the gun handle as you run the bead to prevent interrupting the flow.
To finish the job, run your finger (rather than a caulk finishing tool) over the bead to push it inside the seam and smooth the finish. Wipe off the excess until the bead is spread in a thin layer.
A Word On Quick-Drying Silicone Sealant
In the sealant aisle of your home improvement store, you may have noticed regular silicone caulk and quick drying silicone sealants. Before buying the quick-drying type, it is crucial to understand the difference between drying and curing.
Silicone caulk generally feels dry to the touch in about 30 to 60 minutes. However, you shouldn’t wonder how long it takes for silicone to dry (silicone caulk doesn’t actually dry). Your real concern should be how long it takes for silicone caulk to cure because it can take anywhere from 24 hours to a few days for this to happen.
While some brands advertise their silicone caulk as quick-drying, the fine print on the tube tells you not to expose the sealant to water until it is fully cured. The “quick-drying” allegations are also nothing more than a marketing hoax, since you have to respect all directions on the label for the product to cure in the specified time.
Loctite® Polyseamseal® 100% Silicone Sealant, for example, cures in only two hours as long as you respect the application instructions. In reality, you should wait for at least 12 hours to make sure the caulk has hardened properly before exposing it to water.
2. Increase Ventilation
Proper ventilation is crucial for curing any kind of sealant, but it is particularly important in the case of silicone caulk.
While most brands use the “drying” claim as a marketing strategy, silicone caulk contains no water and it doesn’t dry. However, it cures when it comes in contact with the oxygen and the moisture in the air. If the humidity level in your room is low – due to a dehumidifier, for instance – the caulk will take longer to cure.
You can increase the humidity levels by opening the doors and windows and letting fresh air into the room.
However, you should never use a cooling fan or turn on the air conditioning. While these systems increase airflow, they reduce air humidity and can slow down the silicone caulk curing process.
The video below explains more about the best curing practices for silicone caulk.
3. Apply A Drying Catalyst
A silicone drying catalyst is a solution formulated to increase the sealant’s purity and speed up the chemical processes that harden the caulk. Silicone drying catalysts are generally easy to use. You can apply a small quantity of product with a brush and wait for the time indicated on the package.
Different catalysts may have specific application requirements, so don’t forget to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
4. Control The Temperature
When checking the label on any silicone caulk tube, you may notice specific directions regarding the application temperature. Following them and ensuring a proper temperature while applying and curing the product can speed up the curing process.
In general, you should avoid caulking in areas with temperatures lower than 40°F or higher than 80°F. Some brands may recommend a more specific temperature range, and you can achieve the best results by controlling the temperature in the room with a space heater or air conditioning system.
No matter what you do, never use direct heat. Hair dryers and heat guns should come nowhere near the application site, as they can soften or melt the caulk.
5. Increase Air Moisture
As mentioned above, silicone caulk needs air moisture to cure. If you decide to control the room temperature with a space heater air conditioning system, don’t forget to control the air moisture too.
The easiest way to increase air moisture is with a room humidifier. Alternatively, you can fill containers with hot water and let the steam do the trick. Use a hygrometer to check the humidity level in the room – you should keep it at around 50% or slightly higher.
Do you still have questions? Check out the answers below.
How long should silicone caulk dry before using the shower?
It depends on the specific silicone caulk you use as well as the air humidity and temperature at the moment of application. Generally, you should wait for at least 12 hours before using the shower – even better if you can wait for a full day. Some products cure faster, allowing you to use the shower in as little as two hours after application. However, these sealants only cure this fast if all directions on their label are met.
Will expired silicone caulk cure?
No, silicone caulk will not cure. Caulk that is close to its expiration date might also take a lot longer to cure compared to fresh silicone caulk, or it may not cure at all. To stay on the safe side, you should use new caulk.
How to make aquarium silicone dry faster?
Silicone-based aquarium sealants are similar to silicone caulk, and you can follow the same methods and tips to speed up the curing process. Keep in mind that some aquarium sealants may also require to be immersed in water to fully cure – we can’t emphasize it enough: it is crucial to read the label.
How to tell if the silicone caulk is cured?
Silicone caulk can feel dry to the touch in as little as half an hour. However, this doesn’t mean that it is cured. Fully cured silicone is rubbery and pliable, and it adheres strongly to the surface. If the silicone line looks stuck and it bounces back after you press it with your finger, it is most likely cured. If the surface feels dry, but the silicone doesn’t bounce back after you press it with your finger or it peels off the surface easily, it is not fully cured. Note that if the silicone starts to peel, you should remove it completely and apply a new bead.
Unlike water-based fillers and sealants, silicone caulking actually needs moisture to cure. Low humidity levels and direct heat won’t help speed up the process, but they will actually slow it even more. If you want to cut off the waiting times, we hope this guide can help you cure silicone caulk faster than usual.