How to Paint Non-Paintable Silicone Caulking

Written by ryan lawrence
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How to Paint Non-Paintable Silicone Caulking
Acrylic caulking is best suited for paint. (glazier image by Greg Pickens from

Silicone caulking is not appropriate for any surface that requires a coat of paint. When acrylic latex and oil-based paints are applied directly over silicone, shedding rapidly ensues. Unfortunately, many do-it-yourselfers use non-paintable silicone caulking to seal cracks and seams, because they don't know any better. If you are confronted with a surface marred with silicone caulking, you will need to apply a special type of primer, or you will have no chance at paint adhesion.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pressure washer
  • Rags
  • Oil-based primer
  • 2- to 4-inch oil paintbrush
  • White spirit
  • Acrylic latex paint
  • Satin or semigloss latex paint
  • 2- to 4-inch latex paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Wash exterior silicone caulking, using a pressure washer. Use damp rags if the caulking is located indoors. Wait two to four hours for the caulking and surrounding surfaces to dry.

  2. 2

    Coat the silicone caulking with an oil-based primer, formulated for compatibility with water-based latex paints. Apply the primer, using a paintbrush, engineered for use with oil paints. Wait two hours for the primed silicone to dry.

  3. 3

    Wash the oil-based primer from the paintbrush with white spirit. Do not use water, as this will destroy the brush.

  4. 4

    Coat the primed silicone caulking with paint, using a paintbrush engineered for use with water-based paints. Use acrylic latex paint on exterior caulking. Use a satin or semigloss latex paint if the caulking is located indoors.

  5. 5

    Wash the paint from the paintbrush with water. Do not use white spirit, as this will destroy the brush.

Tips and warnings

  • Acrylic caulking is appropriate for sealing cracks and seams in surfaces that require a coat of paint.
  • Most oil-based primers will reject latex paint. Be sure to read the label before you buy to ensure that the oil-based primer you choose will work with water-based latex.

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