Can You Paint Over Waterproof Sealant? 3 Ways (Do This!)


Sealant is needed in many areas of our home to prevent the ingress of water next to the likes of fittings, windows, and baths. 

The problem with sealant is that it often comes in a color that isn’t a match for the rest of your room. Painting seems like a good solution but can you do it?

It depends. The most common type of waterproof sealant is silicone, which can’t be painted on directly without the paint beading or flaking. Thankfully there are sealants out there that are easier to paint over without any problems, such as acrylic and polyurethane.

While you can paint these sealants, there is a lot more you need to know about them and there are even workarounds for painting on silicone. 

Here we’ll go through which sealant you should use and the steps you need to take. Let’s get started!

Why Can’t You Paint Over Silicone?

The term ‘waterproof sealant’ is quite a broad one as there isn’t just one waterproof sealant. 

There are several options you can use to seal joints, but the most popular to use for waterproofing is silicone due to its performance, flexibility, and durability. While silicone is great for reducing harmful mold, it doesn’t always look great. 

Silicone is a great sealant as nothing wants to stick to it, making it ideal for baths and toilets where you have humid areas that you won’t want to paint.

Silicone’s properties mean that water will just run straight off and you won’t have any moisture problems. Sadly, the same happens with paint. You can often apply a finish with latex or acrylic paint, but the results won’t be great.

If you have silicone seals and want to paint straight on them, then forget about it. However, there are ways to make silicone sealants paintable.

How to Paint Over Waterproof Sealant

By now, you may be a little deflated if you have a lot of silicone seals in your home. But all is not lost! There are three options here to help you tackle the task.

1. Reseal Your Joints

You can remove all of the silicone sealants from your joints and then apply a paintable caulk. 

Silicone can be easily removed with a sharp knife and methylated spirits but you should take safety precautions.

This is a lot of hard work and probably the preferred option if you want the best possible results. 

Caulking windows, toilets, or any other seal is fairly easy but all of this work can be avoided with a simple workaround.

2. Add Shellac Spray

The easiest way to paint over silicone sealant is to apply a shellac spray first. This is one substance that will adhere to silicone and then you can paint over it. 

The spray can be expensive, but it’s worth it as it will save you hours of hard work.

Due to it being a spray, it’s vitally important to tape up any areas that don’t need to be painted. Otherwise, you’ll see the shellac finish over the top.

It’s also important to follow the instructions. How long you need to leave the shellac spray changes from one brand to the next. Some set in a few minutes whereas others will need to be left for up to 45 minutes before painting.

3. Caulk Over The Sealant

There is a third option and that is to apply a paintable caulk/sealant over the existing one. While this may seem like a good idea, it’s not without problems.

Even new silicone finds it hard to stick to old silicone and the same can be said for any other type of substance. The results may not be great as the adhesion may not be strong, which can cause water to get caught in the gaps.

You’ll also need to ensure that the new sealant is wider than the old one. This can affect the aesthetics, as your strip of sealant could end up being far bigger than a regular bead.

Before You Do Anything

Before you rush out to buy a new sealant or shellac spray, you need to know that you definitely can’t paint over your seals. 

In general, you cannot paint over silicone sealants. However, there are a few hybrid silicone sealants mixed with other compounds, such as copolymers that improve paint adhesion. These sealants can be painted over.

This means that you may be able to paint over your seals if they have been done with one of these specialist types. 

Before you go to the time and effort of spraying, removing, or caulking over your sealant, it’s a good idea to do a patch test.

Paint a small area with your latex or acrylic paint and see how well it adheres. If you find that there is good bonding with no beading, then there is a good chance that it has been made with a paintable sealant or caulk. If it has, then you don’t need to take any of the steps above.

Which Sealant Should I Use?

We’ve established that you shouldn’t be using regular silicone sealant if you want to paint over it, but what should you be using? There are many types out there that solve the issue.

If you need the flexibility that silicone offers, then choose an acrylic polymer. These offer the same properties as silicone in respect of them being flexible, durable, and waterproof. At the same time, they have the added benefit of being paintable.

Caulks are often seen as a little less flexible than sealants but if that’s not an issue, there are plenty of acrylic latex caulks on the market which are great for being painted over.

With both of these types, you’ll also see some that have silicone mixed in with them. This means they can have the advantages of silicone but are much easier to paint over. If you want a paintable waterproof sealant, you aren’t short of options.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not you can paint over a waterproof sealant depends on what type of sealant has been used. The most common type is pure silicone, which can’t be painted over with any type of paint.

While that’s true, there are now paintable silicone sealants on the market, along with other types of paintable sealants and caulks.

If you do have silicone seals, then thankfully there is an easy workaround with shellac spray. You may also apply a new sealant if you prefer. 

Hopefully, now you have a clear idea of how you can get a beautiful painted finish to your rooms, even with waterproof sealant.

Joe Taylor

Over 2 decades of remodeling experience, Joe is an expert in home improvement. He is now the Managing Editor of PlumbJoe where he writes guides for homeowners. His hobbies include climbing, running and playing the piano.

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