White or Clear Caulk Around Toilet?

People spend a considerable amount of time in the bathroom. Toilets often need replacing after heavy use, leaks, and aging. When installing a new toilet, you may wonder if you should use white or clear caulk around the base.

You can choose either white or clear caulk to put around the base of your toilet. Some have a preference for white to match the color of the toilet, for a seamless look. Others may choose clear if the toilet isn’t white or a perfect match. Regardless of color, the caulk must be pure silicone to protect against moisture.

Should I Use White Or Clear Caulk Around Toilet?

Caulking around the toilet is paramount. Read on to learn more about considerations, application, cleaning, and removal of white or clear caulk.

Type And Color of Caulk

It is essential to use the right type of caulk around a toilet base to prevent spills from collecting underneath the bowl. When purchasing white or clear caulk, check the label. 

It should be 100% silicone-based and not a hybrid caulk containing acrylic or other water-based ingredients. 

Silicone products bond to plastic, glass, ceramic, and metal. If you do not use pure silicone, the caulk is likely to crack, shrink, or break down over time. 

Hybrid latex-silicone or acrylic-silicone may not adhere well, allowing moisture to get in. 

Clear Caulk

Clear caulk appears see-through once it is dry. Visually, it may look like there is a space between the floor and the toilet. 

It also may be more difficult to see any gaps or deformities in the caulk that need repair. 

However, clear caulk often looks cleaner and smoother than white. 

Dust will not be as apparent. If you apply it with an unsteady hand, it will not be readily noticeable. 

Some brands of clear caulk may look shiny once dry. This could trick the eye into thinking the toilet base iis wet. You may even have to touch it to see if there is moisture.

White Caulk

White caulk used around a white toilet looks more seamless. 

Any gaps or deformities will be immediately apparent. White caulk will also show if you applied it with an unsteady hand. You will be able to remedy this right away.

It may show dust more easily but this can be remedied with frequent cleaning. 

White caulks can be different shades, so finding the perfect match for your toilet can be challenging.

To Caulk Or Not To Caulk?

Odors, such as sewer gas, and mildew are less likely to build up if the toilet base is caulked. Caulking can also stabilize and secure the toilet to the floor.

Some people may argue that caulking will prevent them from knowing if there is a leak. However, a slow leak is unlikely to spread out from underneath the toilet. 

In most cases, a leak from the toilet will be detected underneath the toilet in the basement or on the first-floor ceiling under a second-floor toilet.  

The Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) requires that a fixture, such as a toilet or tub, that contacts the floor should be watertight. 

Some may argue that you are not supposed to caulk around a toilet and that the seal on the connecting pipe is enough. However, others feel that caulking around the base is best to keep water from leaking in or out. 

Check your local regulations to see what is required in your area.

How To Clean Caulk

Both white and clear caulk can yellow or brown as they age. If the caulk around the toilet is turning brown or yellow, you can try to clean it before scraping it off and replacing it. To clean it, you should do the following:

  1. Ventilate the bathroom by turning on the fan and opening up any windows. 
  2. Mix two tablespoons of bleach per quart of water.
  3. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and onto the caulk.
  4. Use a clean toothbrush to gently scrub the caulk.
  5. Remove the bleach mixture by wiping it clean with a cool and damp cloth.
  6. Repeat as needed.

Discard any unused mixture if you are not using it to clean other things. Homemade bleach and water mixtures have a shelf life of 24 hours.

How To Apply Caulk Around the Toilet Base

Complete the following steps to caulk around your toilet:

  1. If caulking an existing toilet, remove the old caulk (see below).
  2. Remove any grime and dust around the base of the toilet to have a clean surface for the caulk to adhere to. Wait for 24 hours before applying the caulk to make sure the surfaces are dry. 
  3. Lay down some cardboard or towels to set things down on and protect your floors before you start working.
  4. Use a caulk gun with 100% silicone caulk. Squeeze and apply the caulk in an even motion around the seam where the base of the toilet meets the floor, at a 45-degree angle. 
    • It is easier to pull the gun towards yourself than to push the caulk forward. This also allows for a smoother application. 
    • It can be challenging to get the caulk gun to fit behind the toilet, so consider practicing your movement before you start squeezing. 
  5. Wear rubber gloves and run your finger or a caulking tool along the seam to push it in and smooth it out, just as you would when finishing tile edges.
  6. Wipe up any excess with a paper towel before it sets in.
  7. Refer to the product label for the curing time, typically around 24-hours.

Note: Clear caulk looks white when it is being applied. It will turn clear once it is fully cured. If the clear caulk remains white after drying, it means it was exposed to excess moisture or the product has expired.  

Removing Old Caulk

Before you install a new toilet, or if the caulk is aged and cracked, you should remove the old caulk. Cracked caulk may smell bad, especially if sewer gasses or urine odors are leaking out. This could indicate a problem with the toilet’s seal or connecting plumbing as well.

You should not put new caulk over old caulk. Starting from a fresh and clean surface will ensure that the caulk adheres properly to all surfaces.

Complete the following steps:

  1. Wear gloves to protect your hands. Open the windows for ventilation and wear a mask.
  2. Use a utility knife, razor blade, or a caulk removal tool from your home improvement store. If using a blade, run it along where the caulk meets the floor and toilet. Use a gentle touch to prevent scratches.
  3. Use needle-nose pliers to pull at the caulk. It may come off in pieces or in long strips. 
  4. Use the blade to scrape off any remaining pieces.
  5. Apply a rag soaked with mineral spirits on any remaining residue, rubbing in a circular motion to work it off. 
    • If pieces remain, use fine-grit sandpaper to gently rub at the residue. Use care not to scratch the surfaces.

What Is An Alternative To Caulking Around The Toilet?

Alternatives to caulking are other materials such as silicone sealant tape, epoxy sealer, spray foam, or mortar.

However, keep in mind that these materials may not be as long-lasting or waterproof as silicone caulk.

Final Thoughts

Choosing clear or white caulk around the base of your toilet is simply a matter of preference. 

White can match the toilet base offering a seamless look. Clear is more forgiving when applying and looks better with non-white surfaces. 

To ensure a long-lasting watertight seal, pure silicone caulk should be used.

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