What is Acrylic Sealant?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Caulking is used to seal and protect the base of toilets, bathtubs and more.
Caulking is used to seal and protect the base of toilets, bathtubs and more.

Acrylic sealant is a synthetic protective material used in a wide range of applications. It seals all types of materials to make them gap-free as well as resistant to infiltration from foreign matter. Variations of this sealant are used extensively in the construction industry on residential and commercial properties.

Sealing is called caulking; the joints in buildings require a caulked closure to seal gaps and keep each joint waterproof. Closing construction joints with sealant is also done to keep dirt and insects out. Since building joints need to be allowed to have some movement, a flexible sealant must be used. Flexible acrylic sealant has a rubber-like quality to it when it dries, so it's often the preferred choice to seal building joints. Drying in reference to caulking is called curing.

Acrylic sealant is applied thanks to a caulking gun.
Acrylic sealant is applied thanks to a caulking gun.

The drying or curing time for acrylic sealant varies according to the humidity and temperature of the location. When fully cured, flexible sealant forms an elastic, rubbery coating over building surfaces and gaps. In addition to building joints, it is used around windows and doors as well as to seal foundation cracks. Gaps in building siding can also be sealed with acrylic. Mold-resistant products are favored for use in wood construction applications where mold could become a problem.

Acrylic sealant is applied to door and window frames to seal off structures from the outside.
Acrylic sealant is applied to door and window frames to seal off structures from the outside.

Silicone is often added to these sealants, since it adds a flexibility that the sealant doesn't have on its own. Siliconized acrylic sealants are not only less likely to crack, they also tend to dry, or cure, faster. Many silicone-based acrylic varieties can be painted after 24 hours of curing or drying.

Clear, white, black, brown, gray, and tan are the typical color choices available in acrylic sealants. It's common for them to indicate on their labels the number of years they're expected to last — one designed to last 20 years would feature the number 20 on its packaging. The number is still only a prediction because the weather and application conditions affect the durability of sealants. At some point, they will likely crack and need replacing.

Acrylic sealant may be used to seal foundation cracks.
Acrylic sealant may be used to seal foundation cracks.

Acrylic sealants can be used on plastics, wood, concrete and metal — both indoors and outdoors. Driveway contractors use them on brick paving. The sealant must be applied after the paving is cleaned with a power washer, because otherwise dirt and debris will be sealed in. Acrylic surface sealants are also used to seal airport runways to make them chemical- and weather-resistant.

In smaller applications, these sealants are applied with a caulking gun applicator. There are different types of applicators, but a common caulking gun looks like a large cake frosting decorator because of its cylindrical shape and narrow tip. The gun is also used in a similar way, as the hollow cylinder is filled with caulk or sealant and applied to surfaces from the tip or end.

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    • Caulking is used to seal and protect the base of toilets, bathtubs and more.
      Caulking is used to seal and protect the base of toilets, bathtubs and more.
    • Acrylic sealant is applied thanks to a caulking gun.
      Acrylic sealant is applied thanks to a caulking gun.
    • Acrylic sealant is applied to door and window frames to seal off structures from the outside.
      Acrylic sealant is applied to door and window frames to seal off structures from the outside.
    • Acrylic sealant may be used to seal foundation cracks.
      Acrylic sealant may be used to seal foundation cracks.