How to Paint Over Non-Paintable Caulk?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Moving into a new home is so refreshing and so is a house makeover. However, the experience can change if you notice some dull surfaces and broken windows or ceilings on some areas you least expected. You may even have organized a housewarming party in celebration of your new home.

Having limited time, you decide to repaint and do the repairs all by yourself, but you later realize that the paint you applied is peeling off. There is a possibility that you applied a non-paintable caulk on the trims or the surfaces or it was initially there before you moved in. No need to panic, it can be rectified.

How to paint over non-paintable caulk? Non-paintable caulk can be such a nuisance especially when you want to repaint a surface where it has been used to fill gaps between the wall and trims. However, there are ways of painting over it. You can apply a primer first and paint over it, cure the caulk using another paintable caulk, or completely remove the old caulk and apply a paintable caulk. Follow this article for guided instructions.

Key Points:

  • Painting untreated caulk is challenging since there is no adhesion on the surface.
  • Using a primer before painting lowers the chances of peeling off.
  • Alternatively, the non-paintable caulk can be treated or removed and be replaced with paintable caulk.

Can You Paint Over a Non-Paintable Caulk?

No matter the type of paint you use or the number of layers you apply on untreated caulk, it will still peel off. You might not have all the time to remove the non-paintable caulk and replace it and the only option will be painting over it. The only way to paint over a non-paintable caulk is by treating the caulked area first. You can either use a primer or a paintable caulk.

Can You Paint Over A Non-Paintable Caulk

Applying a primer provides a barrier for your paint to stick and so does the paintable caulk. You may have to apply several primer or paintable caulk layers depending on the thickness of the caulk. Allowing the primer to first stick on the caulk and paint over later gives the paint the necessary grip to stick on the surface.

Things You will Need:

  • Oil Based Primer
  • Oil-Based Paints
  • 2 – 4inch natural bristle paint brush
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Silicone Paintable Caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Putty Knife
  • Painters Tape
  • Silicone Caulk Remover

What Happens If You Paint Non-Paintable Caulk?

There is a possibility that you have attempted to paint non-paintable caulk before, and you want to understand why the results turned out the way they did. While the oil-based oils may seem to cover the caulk when applied at first, they begin to peel off and flake as soon as they dry. No need to doubt your skills yet.

Non-paintable caulk is a product of pure silicon. When untreated silicone caulk is painted directly peeling off is inevitable since the paint does not stick well on the surface. Whether you purchased the non-paintable caulk unknowingly or it was still existing even before you occupied your new space, it poses a huge obstacle towards a fresh paint, but it can be painted if treated with a special base primer.

How To Paint Over Non-Paintable Caulk?

The idea of painting a non-paintable caulk should be worked on immediately after applying caulk because the original color is there for some time after which it starts to change as it gets more exposed to the surroundings and is no longer appealing as before. As dust and dirt latch onto the caulk, you will notice some brownish or yellowish color thus the need to paint as soon as possible.

How To Paint Over Non-Paintable Caulk

Below are some guided steps on how you can paint over non-paintable caulk using a primer:

Step 1: Apply rubbing alcohol directly to the caulk especially if you are going to use shellac-based paints on that area. The alcohol will clean the caulk removing all dirt and any sticky substance. Also, the surface of the caulk becomes rough making it easier to paint and for adhesion.

Step 2: Visit your nearest hardware store, paint shop, or any other home improvement shop near you and enquire for spray cans of primer. Ensure you purchase a can that indicates to be a shell-based primer. Shellac primer adheres to every surface if not all of them which makes it the best primer to use to cover up the caulk in preparation of painting over. There are several reputable brands out there selling shellac-based primers. If you are not sure about the best brand, you can consult an employee at the store for recommendations.

Step 3: Hold the can tightly on your hand and shake it vigorously at least ten times so it is mixed well. When the primer is unevenly mixed, it will not stick on the silicon caulk properly.

Step 4: Hold the can at least three inches away with the nozzle pointing at the silicone caulk. Press down the cap and release it to shoot short bursts of the primer towards the caulk, spray over until you have covered all the caulked surface. To avoid spraying over other surfaces around the caulk, use the blue painters tape to cover up before you begin to spray.

Step 5: Leave the shellac primer to dry for not less than 45 minutes so it is ready to receive a layer of paint. Since distinct brands may differ on the instructions, countercheck the can for primer to see the manufacturers drying time. You can take this time to prepare your paint. After the recommended time has elapsed and you notice some traces of the caulk, you can apply another coat of shellac primer.

Step 6: Apply your paint of choice over the primed surface. Shellac primer can withstand several types of paints such as oil-based and latex paints. You may have to use several coats of paint over. One coat of paint is considered enough to cover the primed area. However, if you still can see the primer underneath after the first coat has dried, apply a second coat or even more coats until the primer is completely covered. Wait for at least 2 hours before applying another coat.

If the paint is still peeling off even after applying a primer you may have to use a paintable caulk over the non-paintable caulk. Below are some guided steps on how you can do it:

Step 1: Visit your nearest paint shop, hardware store, or any other home improvement shop and buy a paintable silicone caulk. It is easy to identify since it is indicated on the tube. If you do not have a caulking gun, you can as well buy it from the same shop you purchased other painting products.

Step 2: If you have enough time, you can remove the non-paintable caulk but if your time is limited you can as well apply a new layer of paintable caulk over the existing non-paintable caulk.

Step 3: Use rubbing alcohol to clean the caulked surface to remove dirt and grease.

Step 4: Fill the caulking gun with the paintable caulk. Direct the tip on the caulked surface and drag slowly to apply evenly over the existing caulk. Use painter’s tape to cover the area you do not want to be caulked. Let the new bead be wider so it sticks well on the old caulk. Note that nothing sticks on silicon, not even more silicon.

Step 5: Leave the paintable caulk for at least 24 hours to dry so it is fully cured and ready to paint. Though most caulk is completely dry within 24 hours, check the manufacturer’s instructions on the paintable caulk tube to be sure. You can then apply your favorite paint. Apply several layers of paint until the paintable caulk is completely covered.

How Do You Remove Non-Paintable Caulk?

If you have severally tried to clean, used a primer, used a paintable caulk, painted over a non-paintable caulk but there was no adhesion on the surface, the only option left is to remove the caulk and reapply a paintable caulk. Use a putty knife and a silicone caulk remover to remove the old caulk. Caulk remover softens the caulk making it easy to scrape out. You can get it from the same shop you purchased other products.

How Do You Remove Non-Paintable Caulk

Once removed, it becomes quite easy to apply the new silicone paintable caulk. Apply either of the above instructions for perfect paint.


It does not break a bone to have some painting skills such as how to paint over a non-paintable caulk. Some peeling offs are so minor and do not necessarily require a professional to have them fixed. Just some guided steps and the makeover is done. You can as well come through for a stuck neighbor or family member.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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