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

Are you staring at your non-paintable caulk, wondering how to give it a fresh color? Contrary to its name, there’s a trick to make even non-paintable caulk ready for a dash of paint.

Our guide offers practical steps and tips to bypass the painting challenge posed by these stubborn sealants. Keep reading—your smooth, painted finish awaits!

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.

What is Non-Paintable Caulk

Non-paintable caulk can be a frustrating challenge for many homeowners, but understanding why some caulks are non-paintable and common types of non-paintable caulk can help you find the right solution.

Let’s dive into the reasons behind non-paintable caulk and how to identify them in your home.

Why Some Caulk is Non-Paintable

Some caulk is non-paintable because it is made of pure silicone. This type of sealant is super good at keeping water and air out. But this same feature makes paint slide off instead of sticking to it.

Imagine trying to color on a balloon with a marker – the ink just won’t stay put.

Silicone caulk has another problem with paints too. The surface you try to paint on can end up looking weird, like when you watch oil and water mix and they keep pushing away from each other.

That’s called “crawling” in painting talk, and it means your nice smooth coat of paint might look all bumpy or patchy instead.

Common Types of Non-Paintable Caulk

Understanding why some caulk won’t hold paint helps us move into talking about different kinds of non-paintable caulk. Here’s a close look at the ones you might run into:


  1. Silicone Caulk: This type is great at keeping out water and lasts a long time. But it’s tough for paint to stick to it because of its smooth, shiny texture.
  2. Polyurethane Caulk: It’s strong and works well in places that move a lot, like where different materials meet. Paint doesn’t like to stick to this kind either.
  3. Butyl Rubber Caulk: This caulk sticks well to most surfaces and is often used in outdoor jobs. However, its oily surface makes it hard for paint to stay on.
  4. Specialty Caulks: Sometimes, you find caulk made for specific jobs, like for high heat or gutters. These are made to last without paint, so putting color on them doesn’t work well.

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.

Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Over Non-Paintable Caulk

How To Paint Over Non-Paintable Caulk

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

Apply a shellac-based primer to the non-paintable caulk, ensuring full coverage. Follow up with paintable caulk, using a caulking gun for smooth application. For best results, allow ample drying time before applying the final coat of paint.

Applying a Shellac-Based Primer

To apply a shellac-based primer on non-paintable caulk:

  1. Use a paintbrush with natural bristles designed for oil-based products.
  2. Ensure the area is well – ventilated before starting the application.
  3. Apply an even coat of primer over the non – paintable caulk surface.
  4. B-I-N Shellac Primer is recommended for its quick drying time of 10-15 minutes.
  5. Consider Kilz and Zinsser as alternative options for priming non – paintable caulk.
  6. Allow the primer to completely dry before applying additional coats or painting over it.

Using Paintable Caulk Over Non-Paintable Caulk

After applying a shellac-based primer, using paintable caulk over non-paintable caulk is an effective way to prepare the surface for painting. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Choose a high-quality paintable caulk that is compatible with the type of paint you plan to use, such as acrylic latex or oil-based.
  2. Before applying the paintable caulk, ensure that the non – paintable caulk is clean and free from any dust, grime, or old paint residue. Use a damp cloth to wipe the surface clean if necessary.
  3. Apply the paintable caulk evenly and smoothly over the non – paintable caulk using a caulking gun or putty knife, making sure to fill any gaps and create a seamless finish.
  4. Smooth out the applied paintable caulk using a wet finger or a caulking tool to remove excess caulk and achieve a neat appearance.
  5. Allow the paintable caulk to dry completely as per the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding to apply the primer and paint for a professional-looking finish.


Tips for Smooth Application

When painting over non-paintable caulk, follow these tips for smooth application:

  1. Clean the caulk thoroughly using rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt or grease that could affect paint adhesion.
  2. Use a shellac – based primer to prepare the caulk for painting, ensuring better adhesion and a smoother finish.
  3. Allow the caulk to dry completely for 24 – 48 hours before applying the paint to prevent peeling or bubbling.
  4. Smooth out the caulk with a finger or putty knife to create a seamless surface for painting.
  5. Apply high-coverage paint over the primed caulk for better results in covering up non-paintable caulk effectively.

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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