Show us your caulk!

We want to see your caulk (or sealant depending on whether or not the joint is susceptible to movement). Good caulk jobs ... bad caulk jobs ... doesn't matter. Share your photos and stories.

First up is a simple case. Two toilet fixtures side-by-side in a men's room. One has a joint that is perfectly fine (a little sloppy at the grout line, but acceptable). The other, simply looks like they forgot to tool it. Also looks like the caulking had been replaced, and the old caulk wasn't sufficiently removed. 

Jan 4, 17 12:02 pm

1 Featured Comment

All 45 Comments

Non Sequitur
Brilliant idea. I'm in an uber, heading back to the office after a smoke seal inspection. Terrible caulk!

As a side note, I keep my caulk in a tube sock RHCP style!
Jan 4, 17 12:05 pm

NS, pics or it didn't happen...

Jan 4, 17 12:08 pm

Oh jeez. I suck at making things but even *I* could do better than that second picture, EI!

Let me see what I can find today at work....

Jan 4, 17 12:16 pm
Non Sequitur

Pics will come forth... just give me time for Sir Sean Connery's sake.

I've literally been a sealant nazi on this project. 

Jan 4, 17 12:21 pm

Are we allowed to include various types of sealant? 

Jan 4, 17 12:27 pm
Non Sequitur

Here ya go:


You're looking at a curtainwall insulated backpan and concrete slab smoke-sealant application.  Important note... I have yet to approve the product and system.

Jan 4, 17 12:56 pm

wtf is that?  Did you review shop drawings?

Jan 4, 17 1:00 pm
Non Sequitur

^for me?

Shop drawings were returned twice for revision and need the city's blessing (long story... worthy of a thread on it's own)... the trades still went ahead and started applying anyways.

Jan 4, 17 1:03 pm

I hate it when I get caulk blocked.

Jan 4, 17 1:21 pm

senjohnblutarsky, please tell me that those are existing conditions and that you're going to fix them. Anyone think that coping installation could pass ANSI/SPRI ES-1?

Non Sequitur, ouch. Was it somebody's first day? Will it be somebody's last?

Jan 4, 17 1:29 pm

Not existing.  Never fixed.  Contractor and Client were very closely related.  Very Closely.  

The "roof hatch" they installed was a piece of roofing metal they cut and laid on top of the other metal.  It's secured with a string tied to the ladder below.  Guess where the rain goes?!?!


I can't believe there were no comments on the pipe penetration. 

Jan 4, 17 1:53 pm

I don't understand, isn't more, better? I mean the contractor had to pay more, and more = expensive.

Jan 4, 17 1:56 pm
Non Sequitur

Sen, I'm fine with the pipe penetration... but please, look at the colour of that plastic putty knife on the dark orange. Terrible colour coordination. btw, what does that pipe connect to?

EI, by the look on my general's face when I pointed things out... I am sure a few guys got an early weekend.  I've got more examples of big bad caulks lined up.  Will post more later.

Jan 4, 17 2:04 pm

I'm actually ok with the pipe penetration. It's ugly, and I'd never allow someone to do it that way on my dime, but at least it's in an overhanging bit and there is a roof below.

I really like the way you can see the contractor just cut and folded the part of the roof up and out of the way so it could fit the offset in the parapet in the second pick. That and the lack of cricket where the parapet ends so any water that flows down to that point can get directed right to the spot where the roof was cut and folded to fit the end of the parapet. I don't think I could detail a roof to leak any better.

And that's just the roof. What were they thinking on the parapet? Did they leave the sheet material just hanging there like that?

The roof hatch sounds amazing. You'd think you'd give someone related that closely a little better quality of service, but maybe not. I guess it depends on the family. 

Jan 4, 17 4:17 pm

Well, client was a municipality.  But a connection to a high level individual with the municipality existed.  The whole thing is a giant mess.  They should have torn every bit of it off and started over.  

I never actually worked on the project.  The pictures just came in to the office from the Architect who was working on it.  I've enjoyed showing them to people since.  If you really want to see a mess, I can share the whole album with you.  

It would actually be fun to have a thread dedicated to screw ups.  I'd hate to sully a caulk/sealant thread with other things.  And if you haven't seen it before, check out a company called Mechanical Hub on facebook.  They post some beautiful screw ups.  They also post some really nice installs as well.  

Jan 4, 17 4:51 pm

Good stuff on that facebook link. I love that kind of stuff. I always try to see the screw ups from the perspective of the person trying to solve the problem. Kind of a forensics mentality of what were they thinking that they thought this would be an acceptable solution. Sometimes the solutions, while not standard, are actually quite beautiful in their own right if they are elegantly executed. Nothing is beautiful about that roof though. 

I don't have a problem if the thread morphs to include other screw ups, weird fixes, etc. A lot can be said about caulk, but sometimes you have to pay attention to other things as well so the caulk doesn't get tired. 

Jan 4, 17 6:14 pm

This thread is going to haunt my nightmares tonight.

Jan 4, 17 6:30 pm
Non Sequitur
Just wait until tomorrow. I have another one planned.
Jan 4, 17 7:11 pm


Jan 4, 17 11:42 pm

Canada eh?

Is that a frisbee?
Jan 5, 17 12:17 am

No, it looks like your average caulked puck.

Jan 5, 17 12:33 am

What the puck!?

Jan 5, 17 8:51 am

That picture makes me think of Clerks.

Jan 5, 17 8:52 am
x intern
Had a subcontractor use fire caulk at all their penetrations on a project that had no fire rating. Fire marshal wouldn't tag due to unprotected penetrations. It took forever to sort out.
Jan 5, 17 8:59 am
Non Sequitur

No pics, but I've just spent the last hour sorting out a potential messy caulk problem.  Contractor just submitted an alternative smoke sealant caulk expecting it to be suitable... turns out that product is only acceptable for one proprietary movable partition system from Australia. But don't worry, they told me will use a white coloured sealant and tool it flush to the gypsum board! That's a relief, even though it's a non-compliant caulk, at least it'll look good for the architect.

My response was terse.

Jan 5, 17 9:14 am

So does that puck qualify as continuing a fire rated assembly (if the exterior load bearing wall needed an hour)? Looks like some kid hit the puck and the homeowner just decided what the hell, keep it.

Jan 5, 17 10:42 am

I've done some basic caulking in my house (tub, windows, doors, trim) and for the life of me, I can't understand how a laborer who does this all day, every day can do such shit work.  Getting a clean caulk line is really not that difficult and doesn't take a lot of time.  And wtf is up with that red metal roof up there?  I can't believe that is new construction.

Jan 5, 17 11:24 am

Many manufacturers' smoke sealant also doubles as their acoustical sealant. Sometimes it gets packaged differently ... sometimes they don't bother to call it a different product. For example ... or in spray variety.

However, if they were using an intumescent caulk like this for all penetrations ... that's just stupid.

Jan 5, 17 11:36 am
Wood Guy

The hockey puck looks like it was there to keep rodents from entering the soffit and spray-foamed into place. The spray foam pushed the puck out of alignment. The contractor was probably planning to use Bondo or Abatron to smooth over the mess once the foam hardened. Not that it's a good way to fix the problem, but not that uncommon either on low-budget jobs. Well, the hockey puck is unusual. 

Jan 5, 17 11:56 am

I observed some abysmal sealant applications this morning.  But, sadly, I don't think I want to post pictures of an active project.  

Caulk on top of caulk on top of dirt that was never cleaned prior to first application.  And then more caulk. 

Jan 5, 17 12:02 pm

Wood Guy, that's too logical of a scenario. More likely it was some neighbor kids up in MN playing in the street. A slap shot from little Billy went stray as his mullet distracted him when he made contact with the puck. Fortunately, the puck missed Old Lady McGregor's front window ... unfortunately, the puck got lodged in the soffit and they couldn't get it unstuck.

So, down a puck, little Billy went looking through the garage to find if his dad had anything that could make a suitable replacement puck. He couldn't find anything but did find some spray foam. Being raised that far up north (Minnesota) Billy understood the importance of sealing leaks in a building to prevent air infiltration/exfiltration and decided to seal the leaks around the puck in Mrs. McGregor's soffit. He's a mulletted street child, not a savage. Mrs. McGregor needs to stay warm at night.

Jan 5, 17 12:08 pm
Wood Guy

Yeah, that was probably it. ;-)

Jan 5, 17 1:52 pm

And yes, it leaks. 

Jan 5, 17 2:53 pm

This is an example of what is happening all over the city with new construction ... sanded sealant joints in sidewalks. I don't understand it. For control joints in masonry they can make a lot of sense because you can make them look like the surrounding mortar, but for a sidewalk?

You're not really disguising the joint with the sand. It obviously appears different than the surrounding concrete. Even if the sand matched the concrete perfectly, the joint is a completely different size than all the saw cut joints surrounding it, so you still aren't fooling anyone. 

The sand will get worn off. It's a trafficked joint for one, and sanded joints are difficult to get right anyway. They require that you tool the joint, broadcast the sand onto the surface, and "pat" it into the sealant before it skins over. Usually you'll find that a portion of the joint is fine, but then it starts to show that the sealant had skinned over (installer too slow with the sand), or it wasn't sufficiently "patted" into the sealant (installer potentially trying to work too quickly). 

In the end, you're left with a visible sealant joint with sand only on portions of it that at a glance make it look dirty and dusty. All this equals an ugly sidewalk ... the opposite of the design intent which was to get something with a little bit of visual appeal (otherwise, why sand the joint in the first place). 

The joint pictured was only installed about 1-2 years ago. 

Jan 6, 17 1:50 pm

@Non Sequitur

You're looking at a curtainwall insulated backpan and concrete slab smoke-sealant application

Looks to me like an office building curtain wall. The sealant job looks bad, but  usually these things don't take place in a vacuum. Who was involved in nominating, selecting, or approving the subs who worked on this?

Important note... I have yet to approve the product and system.

Can you describe a bit more the process of approving a system which has already been installed?.

Jan 6, 17 8:51 pm
Non Sequitur
Adrian, I have a large construction company actions as general. They picked all the sub contracts.

You are correct that this is a commercial curtain wall installation. I've already told them to remove the bad caulk and redo the job with the sealant tooled flush to top of slab. They are fighting me on this but it's not my fault they went ahead with installation before submitting the correct shop drawings. I've already got the same subs to redo all the sealants in both parking levels.
Jan 6, 17 10:49 pm

I'm doing some caulking around the house today. This thread is inspiring!

Jan 7, 17 2:30 pm
WillDon's comment has been hidden

Recently, I read that caulks are often used compared to true sealants. Caulking doesn't take much effort or skill, anyone can do it. Caulks are based on less expensive polymers such as linseed oil, polybutene, asphalt, butyl rubber, SBR rubber, vinyl acetate and acrylic latex. A caulk has  a limited movement capability. If you cannot DIY take expert help from some contractors. Be careful to keep these simple tips in this article in mind while hiring them . Tarry, take your own time. From this pic, it  seems, it needs a fast repair.

Feb 10, 17 1:09 am
Featured Comment

coming up with all these caulk puns is an EASY D!

Feb 10, 17 3:30 pm

Had to resurrect this thread after spotting this brilliant instagram account:


Jun 8, 17 4:12 pm



Fantastic. Those images make me want to laugh, then cry, then laugh, then cry...

True story.

Back in the day I was working in a shop making doors and windows for a beach house. A stupid Hamptons PoS with > 100 windows and about 80 doors. Windows were 3 over 1 over 3 and all the exterior doors were glazed. The day we set the glass it was pouring rain. By pouring I mean tropical deluge, 12" in a day. The kind of rain where a few seconds of exposure carries the risk of drowning. 

On that particular day I was detailed to pick up supplies, which is how I came to find myself standing at the counter in the lumberyard, soaked to the skin, a steady stream of water issuing from my feet, buying 4 cases of silicone caulk. Nobody said a word. 

Jun 8, 17 5:41 pm
threadkilla, that instagram account is fantastic! Thanks for resurrecting the thread.
Jun 8, 17 9:44 pm

Performance joint sealed to masonry :/

Jun 15, 17 2:04 pm
Non Sequitur

Bringing back a classic discussion.  Too bad my original images are now broken links.

Feast your eyes on this fresh caulk:

and close-up.

May 15, 18 8:20 am

Couldnt tell what I was looking at in the first photo because I thought it was crumbling brick. That second photo, jesus christ

Non Sequitur

Funny thing is that it's not even the caulk I specified.


Honest question - why would you need to spec one caulk over another ?

May 15, 18 11:48 am

Appearance (sanded, unsanded, paintable, etc). Width of joint? Requires different sealants. Does the joint experience movement? Requires different sealants. Does the joint experience foot traffic? Horizontal or vertical? Is it an institutional location? That would require a pick-proof sealant.

Non Sequitur

ULC is prescriptive with often no alternatives. We don't just say "provide firestop and smoke sealant", we note the specific system which dictates product and gap tolerances and get shop drawings to match. Different manufacture's product may require thicker beads or may not be suitable to fill the gaps for example. I'm obviously simplifying this, but this is a big item in our area for the inspectors so I make sure to be ahead of them.


There's a story here about an architect who lost his career over spec'ing the wrong sealant. Don't know if true or just a legend.

Non Sequitur

Tintt, there could be a story there as smoke sealant is a life-safety item. Too many contractors and clients (and about 95% of junior to intermediate staff) don't know the differences. Not too difficult to imagine it if an architect picked the wrong product for an incorrect application and a fire separation fails. I normally give the GC and project managers fair warning early on that I won't budge of fire stopping. Either you do as your told or you're redoing the work.


It was an exterior sealant on a highrise.

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