Why is caulk cracking already? (PICS)

madtown_2006_gwMay 4, 2009

Hi everyone. The tile installer caulked the inside corners and around the shower shelf before he left on Thursday. I went in there to clean up a little on Friday and noticed that it's already cracking. He used siliconized acrylic non-sanded caulk (I think the brand is ColorFast Industries). Did he use the wrong kind? Why is it cracking already? If he re-does it, should I make sure he takes out the cracked stuff first or can he just go over it again with another application?

Here are a couple pics. The first is the inside corner of the shower, the second is the horizontal joint between the tile and the corner shelf.

Thanks for any input!

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brickeyee

Cheap caulk or not appied correctly are two big reasons.

Movement in new houses from wood shrinkage is another.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 5:37PM
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bill_vincent

I'm thinking old caulking. Even if he just picked it up, that's not an assurance that it's not old. It's happened to me on occasion, too. I WOULD entertain the idea that it wasn't applied correctly, as well, except that those cracks are down the MIDDLE of the caulking, and not on one side or the other. That's the caulking itself, or as Brickeye suggested, it might be excessive movement.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 9:50PM
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madtown_2006_gw

Thanks Brickeyee and Bill. If he redoes it should he clean out the cracked caulk or can he go over it again with a second application?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 11:36PM
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mongoct

Yup. I'd say old caulk.

When it's the caulk the cracks are usually in the caulk.

When it's excessive movement, caulk applied to thick, or a dirty installation, it's usually the caulk releasing from one of the walls.

"Siliconized acrylic" is fine, and I've not heard of any troubles with that brand.

The repair should include removing the old caulk before new caulk is installed.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 12:53AM
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mongoct

Forgot to ask...

Did he grout the corners then apply a thin veneer of caulk over the grout?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 12:59AM
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madtown_2006_gw

Mongoct - Thanks for the response. Yes, I believe he did say there is some grout in the corners. I don't know how much, but he said maybe it wasn't dry enough before he applied the caulk. But this was all over the phone, he has not looked at it in person yet. Is it bad to have grout in the corners?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 7:38AM
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bill_vincent

The joints should be pretty much completely clear before caulking. However, I don't think that's the problem here. If it were, the caulking would be peeling off, rather than actually showing a crack.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 8:30PM
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mongoct

If he grouted the corners then covered the grout with a thin smear of caulk, the caulk could just be telegraphing the cracked grout.

The issue is not if the grout was cured prior to the caulk being smeared over it.

The issue is that there should be NO grout in the corners at all, just caulk. At a minimum, if the corners do get grouted, the grout should be raked out deeper than the joint is wide, then caulked.

Changes in plane are where differential movement occurs. One wall moves independent of the other, or the edge of the tub flexes away from the wall when the tub is loaded with water, etc.

Grout is rigid and cracks when movement occurs.

Caulk is flexible and flexes when movement occurs.

And I know, I know, he does this all the time and this is the first time it's ever happened to him.

Uh huh.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 11:43PM
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MariposaTraicionera

Yes, they always say it has never happened before. Usually trying to insinuate that you're overly fussy.

Sorry that it happened to you, but we also had the same problem with our "expert" and after reading this, I can tell you that ours reapplied the caulk so I'm expecting it to show the same signs again. I guess we'll have to try and fix it ourselves Mongo?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2009 at 12:18AM
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