While caulking can help protect materials in your house from movement and moisture damage, they are still subject to wear and tear just like anything else. The type of caulk, weather conditions, seasonal movement and climate can all affect the age at which caulking decays, over-expands, dries out or cracks. Re-caulking showers needs to be done when the caulk starts to age, which is dependent on a few factors.
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All showers eventually need to be re-caulked, but the exact when or how often is subject to a variety of factors. When you start noticing cracks in the caulking or excess shrinkage, it is a sign that it’s time to re-caulk the joints. This could be anywhere between five and 50 years depending on the type of caulk that was used the first time around.
While the most common type of caulking used with tile installations is the acrylic-latex blend, it also has the least life expectancy out of all of the types available. On the low end of things, you can expect an acrylic caulk to last around five years on average; if you are lucky, you might have one that lasts for up to 15 years. Dry climates will dry the caulking out quicker, and excess movement in the home can cause additional cracking.
On the outside, silicone caulking is rated for around 35 to 40 years in the perfect conditions. It is smelly, difficult to work with but highly effective at filling joints and protecting things for years to come. While it is generally sold as a clear caulk, you can also find it in basic colors to suit your re-grouting needs. Similar to acrylic, it will split when it begins to age.
Polyurethane caulk is one of the highest-rated caulks in the industry and can last for 50 years or more in the right conditions. It is extremely hard to work with, especially in the colder months, and it requires special products to smooth the joints down and remove the excess from the face of the material, but it comes in numerous colors and will last the years to come. It will crack or crumble from the joint when it is time to replace it.