Can you seal silicone

Acrylic or silicone

Acrylic or silicone: these are the differences and areas of application

Acrylic and silicone are among the most common sealants. Both are used by professionals as well as home and hobby craftsmen. There are various products that are suitable for indoor or outdoor use or that are optimized for special requirements.

The appearance and consistency of acrylic and silicone sealants are quite similar at first glance, but there are big differences between the two substances. Read here which areas of application silicone is better suited for, what you should use acrylic for and when you can freely choose between acrylic and silicone.

Uses for silicone and acrylic

Sealing compounds are used to fill and seal joints, repair cracks, crevices and smaller holes and to clean up connection points. Because of their adhesive strength, they can also be used to attach components. However, since they do not stick as well as assembly adhesives, for example, this only works for light, small and / or less stressed parts, for example for attaching decorative and skirting boards.

When renovating and refurbishing, acrylic and silicone compounds are used primarily for grouting in kitchens and bathrooms, for repairing defects in the subsurface (e.g. cracks in plaster or masonry) and for sealing and covering connection points on skirting and skirting boards, worktops, wall and floor tiles, window sills, door frames, cable ducts, roller shutters and much more.

Because of its impermeability to water, silicone is still the first choice in the kitchen and sanitary area, for example for sinks, cooktops and worktops, shower walls, bathtub joints and toilets. Silicone should also be used for acrylic tubs and other sanitary plastics; Various manufacturers such as Knauf offer special silicone sealing compounds for this. For outdoor use, there are also special silicones that are particularly weatherproof and can withstand extreme heat, cold and UV radiation. Another advantage of silicone is that it insulates against electricity.

Acrylic sealing compounds are particularly suitable for applications in dry areas, for example for filling plaster and wall cracks, smoothing and repairing imperfections. It adheres very well to many surfaces such as concrete, stone, glass, wood, plastic as well as gypsum fiber and plasterboard. Unlike silicone, acrylic can also be easily painted over or pasted over with wallpaper.

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Differences between acrylic and silicone

Before processing, both sealants have a paste-like consistency, whereby silicone is more reminiscent of rubber and acrylic is more reminiscent of putty. Compared to acrylic, silicone is significantly more shiny and sticky. If you rub the two substances between your fingers, a stubborn, sticky film of lubricant forms on the silicone, while the acrylic can be rubbed into small rolls and lumps that can easily be removed from the skin. Moist acrylic sealant is also water-soluble, whereas silicone can only be removed with a mechanism (e.g. spatula, blade), lots of washing-up liquid, grease or special silicone removers.

Both acrylic and silicone remain elastic after curing. However, the elasticity of rubber-like silicone is much greater than that of acrylic. As a result, a silicone joint can be stretched much more before it breaks, which is why silicone is generally better suited for expansion joints and to compensate for component movements (e.g. in drywall construction). When you touch a hardened acrylic joint, it feels almost hard - similar to plaster, window putty or fine filler. Cured silicone is softer and, like tough rubber, still yields when you apply pressure. The silicone gloss is also largely retained after drying, while dry acrylic is matt and dull.

Many silicone sealants also have a strong vinegar smell. However, this is not a clear identifier for this material, but simply a feature of the inexpensive vinegar-curing silicone that you can get for little money in any hardware store. Alternatively, you can use neutrally crosslinking silicone, which has no vinegar odor and is also less prone to mold.

Here are the most important differences between acrylic and silicone at a glance:

Silicone propertiesAcrylic properties
Not soluble in water; waterproofSoluble in water when wet, permeable to water when dry
Not paintable Can be painted over with paints and varnishes
Does not yellowMay turn yellow
Extremely stretchable until it rips open or tearsOnly a little stretchable; can tear, break and crumble
Longer drying timeShorter drying time
Usually higher in priceUsually cheaper in price

What tools are required to process acrylic and silicone?

Both acrylic and silicone are available ready-to-use in cartridges and tubular bags. For processing, you need an appropriate press or pistol into which the cartridge or bag is inserted. Working with cartridge and bag presses is basically simple, but has its pitfalls: In order to correctly dose the amount of material and material flow and, if necessary, to stop it quickly, you need a sure instinct and practice.

In addition, there are significant differences in the power transmission between the cartridge presses and therefore in the amount of force required. With the simplest and cheapest plastic manual pistols (skeleton pistols) without a toothed rack, you need significantly more force to squeeze out the material than if you use a high-quality metal cartridge gun with a toothed rack. In addition, some models are only suitable for cartridges or foil bags, while others fit both and can be quickly converted depending on the application.

If you want to make it easier for yourself when processing silicone or acrylic and / or work a lot with it, you can use a battery press or gun. Electric presses for connection to the socket or now almost exclusively with rechargeable batteries and compressed air guns are also available. In the case of electrically operated bag and cartridge presses, the ejection pressure can be set using a switch or rotary control, which ensures a controlled and thus even material application. Another plus point of these tools is that the sealant cannot run because the rack is automatically relieved when the switch is released.

For comparison: With hand-operated devices, in order to relax the press mechanism and thus stop the material flow, you have to operate a separate small lever, which is usually located at the rear end. If you have smaller hands or have little routine with the device, you have to reach around briefly and possibly press and fumble a little on the release mechanism - and in this half second the material can run afterwards in an uncontrolled manner and cause minor or major messes.

This little excursion into the world of cartridge guns is primarily intended to show that it is not just the skill or experience of the user if the work does not work well or is arduous. Many DIY enthusiasts have never worked with a really good cartridge gun. Instead, they use one of the better hardware store models and have believed for years that it is their fault or some kind of bad fate if their hands hurt or the result leaves something to be desired while grouting. If you're one of them, try a better tool next time! You'll be amazed at the difference that makes. This can also be expressed in hard numbers: The power transmission of the current hardware store models is usually 7: 1 or 10: 1. B. 18: 1 or 25: 1. With cheap hand pressure guns - and even with the higher-priced hardware store cartridge guns - you have to apply more than twice as much force and pressure as the skilled craftsmen with their skilled hands and professional tools.

How to properly grout with acrylic and silicone is a chapter in itself. Read these in-depth guides to learn how to do it

Acrylic or silicone - which fits better?

If you are unsure whether acrylic or silicone is more suitable for your project, or even both, check the wide range in specialist shops and carefully read the manufacturer's information on the individual products. You can also ask a skilled tradesman and benefit from their experience - many professionals will be happy to answer your questions without obligation. And if you do not want to familiarize yourself so deeply with the subject, but simply want to see a flawless result quickly, let a specialist company dispose of it. With our free quotation service, you can quickly find craftsmen in your area and find out without obligation what prices they are opening for silicone and acrylic work.

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Tags:Painter's guide, silicone