GE imagination at workSkip to main content
  • Products
  • DIY Center
  • Where to Buy
  • Press Room
  • Weatherize

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some of the most commonly asked product, application, and troubleshooting questions.

Application Questions

  1. Where are the most common sources for air leaks in my home?
  2. Where in my house should I caulk?
  3. What tools will I need to caulk?
  4. How do I apply caulk?
  5. Does caulk go bad?
  6. What can I use to make the curing time longer, or to thin the caulk?
  7. I followed the instructions on the back of the tube; however, the caulk is taking a very long time to cure.
  8. What can I use on my electrical components?
  9. Can I use silicone in my pool, whirlpool bath, or boat?
  10. Can I apply new silicone on old silicone?
  11. Do I have to do anything to the surface material before I apply a caulk?
  12. Do I have to use different GE caulk products for different jobs?

Product Questions

  1. How long will caulk release an odor?
  2. Which caulks can be painted over?
  3. At what temperature can caulk be applied?
  4. How much will one cartridge/tube cover?
  5. How do I store silicone caulk?
  6. What is the typical cure time (drying time) for silicone caulk?
  7. What does "tooling time" mean?
  8. What is the tooling time for caulk?
  9. What's the difference between GE Silicone I* caulk and GE Silicone II* caulk?
  10. What can I use to make the curing time longer, or to thin the caulk?
  11. Do I have to use different caulk products for different jobs?

Troubleshooting Questions

  1. The silicone caulk is hard in the tube. What should I do?
  2. The silicone caulk will not cure. What should I do?
  3. How do I remove silicone caulk?
  4. What if the silicone caulk skins before I can tool it?
  5. Can caulk freeze in the tube?
  6. I followed the instructions on the back of the tube; however, the caulk is taking a very long time to cure.

Application Questions and Answers

Where are the most common sources for air leaks in the home?
Air leaking through holes and cracks accounts for up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs (or up to 10 percent of total energy costs) in a typical home. Many air leaks are easy to find because they are easy to feel and are located in common areas of the house—especially around windows and doors. But hidden air leaks in attics, basements, and around chimneys are often more significant sources of energy loss. Seal these areas properly to keep your energy from slipping away.

back to top

Where in my house should I caulk?
You should caulk gaps, cracks, or joints in areas where you want to keep water and/or air out in your home. The list below includes common places caulk is needed. To learn specifically about weatherizing your home to save energy, visit our interactive house at CaulkAndSave.com.
  • Penetration in the attic floor, kneewalls, and cracks where air can enter/exit from the outside
  • Windows and doors
  • Chimneys and flues
  • Basement rim joists (where the foundation meets the wood frame)
  • Where faucets or pipes meet the house
  • Cracks in exterior siding or where two different materials meet (e.g., siding and chimney or foundation)
  • Around air vents and ducts
  • Penetrations in the walls such as electrical wiring and outlets, plumbing, recessed lighting, and phone or TV cables
  • Leaks in gutters or cracks in flashing
  • Kitchen sinks, faucets, backsplashes, countertops
  • Bathroom tubs, showers, along top of shower surround, backsplashes
  • Between crown molding and wallboard
What tools will I need to caulk?
  1. Caulk removing tool (to remove old caulk and debris)
  2. Household cleaner or rubbing alcohol
  3. A stiff wire brush (if repairing masonry or concrete)
  4. A clean, dry cloth or (lintless) paper towels
  5. Painter's masking tape (When using silicone caulk, GE Caulk Smoother* can provide an alternative to taping, or minimize the hassle and expense of taping.)
  6. A backer rod (if the gap is more than 1/2" wide or deep)
  7. Caulk gun (A caulk gun is not necessary for smaller jobs that can be finished with GE Caulk Singles* or squeeze tubes.)
  8. Mineral spirits or isopropyl alcohol (when using silicone)

back to top

How do I apply caulk?
Caulking is as simple as five easy steps. Visit our DIY center for directions, as well as tips for specific projects.

Does caulk go bad?
GE caulk features a "Use By" date on the bottom of the cartridge. This should tell you if the caulk is still fresh and able to be used. If you cannot read the use by date or want to test the caulk prior to starting a project, there is also a simple test that only takes 10 to 15 minutes. Run a small bead on a piece of cardboard. If after about 15 minutes, the product doesn't form a "skin," the product is probably too old and won't ever fully cure (dry completely).

What can I use to make the curing time longer, or to thin the caulk?
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, we do not recommend attempting to thin caulk at home. You should choose the product best suited for your application. If you are an industrial customer, contact a customer service representative at 1-866-275-4372 for detailed information.

I followed the instructions on the back of the tube; however, the caulk is taking a very long time to cure.
The air temperature and humidity in the air can affect how long a silicone caulk takes to cure or an acrylic caulk to dry. A silicone caulk will cure slower when it is cool and the air is dry (low humidity). An acrylic caulk will dry slower when it is cooler out or more humid. Make sure to vary your wait time based on the humidity level.

What can I use on my electrical components?
We recommend that consumers not use silicone caulk in any electrical application. Contact a customer service representative at 1-866-275-4372 for more information.

Can I use silicone in my pool, whirlpool bath, or boat?
We do not recommend silicone caulk for any constant underwater use. A good rule of thumb is to not apply any caulk below water level.

back to top

Can I apply new silicone on old silicone?
For the best adhesion, we recommend removing the old silicone. New silicone will bond to old silicone, but the bond is not as strong as if it is adhered to a clean surface. If you choose to apply over old silicone, the warranty is void.

Do I have to do anything to the surface material before I apply a caulk?
Some materials, such as concrete, soft woods, stone, specially treated metals, plastics, or other man-made materials, might have unpredictable surface characteristics. Therefore, we recommend that you test for adhesion by applying the caulk to a small area before proceeding with an entire job. It is also very important to prepare surfaces properly. This should be done on the same day you apply the product. The following are guidelines for preparing a variety of surfaces.
  1. Concrete, masonry, and stone: Use a wire brush to remove the old caulk, dirt, dust, and loose particles. All contaminants and impurities must be cleaned off, such as concrete form release agents, water repellents, and other surface treatments and protective coatings.

  2. Porous surfaces: Use sandpaper or a wire brush where necessary to provide a sound, clean surface.

  3. Metal, glass, and plastic: Clean the surface with a solvent such as mineral spirits or a lacquer thinner. When using solvents, always wipe the surface dry with a clean cloth or lintless paper towels. Never allow a solvent to air dry or evaporate without wiping. Caution: Only use these solvents in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety precautions and instructions listed on the product label. When solvents are used, proper safety precautions must be observed.

  4. General: Do not use silicone caulk on any galvanized surface. Do not use below the water level. Cleaning with detergent or soap and water is not recommended because silicone will not adhere to surfaces with any soap scum present.

back to top

Do I have to use different GE caulk products for different jobs?
Yes; caulk differs in formulation and intended use. Its physical properties, including adhesion, flexibility, color, opacity, finish, elasticity, and durability vary significantly so it's important to select the right product for each job.

An easy way to think about it is by classifying the job by category: waterproof, waterproof and paintable, paintable with no water protection, or specialty.

Waterproof: Caulk that keeps water out is a necessity in areas that will be exposed to water, such as windows, doors, kitchens, and baths, so a permanently waterproof caulk is needed. If the caulk is not permanently waterproof, the area could be left vulnerable to water damage and mold growth.

Waterproof and paintable: Some projects require a caulk that is waterproof and paintable. If the area will be exposed to water or the outdoor elements, a permanently waterproof and shrink-/crack-proof caulk is needed. If the caulk is not permanently waterproof and shrink-/crack-proof, the area could be left vulnerable to water damage and mold growth. If the caulk needs to match the exact color of the adjacent surface, it also needs to be paintable.

Paintable with no water protection: For jobs that need to be painted and won't be exposed to the outdoor elements or water for a significant length of time, such as interior molding and baseboards, a paintable acrylic can be used.

Specialty: For a project that is beyond a typical home caulking application, or will be used in conjunction with another caulking product, or when caulk isn't appropriate for the job, a specialty product might be needed.

back to top

Product Questions and Answers

How long will caulk release an odor?
Caulk releases an odor during its cure cycle. Most of this process occurs during the first 24 hours after the product is applied. GE Silicone II* caulk is a neutral cure caulk and does not have the vinegar-type odor that is associated with acetoxy cure caulks like GE Silicone I* and most other silicone caulks.

Which caulks can be painted over?
100 percent silicone is non-paintable. GE Silicone II* Paintable Silicone is a waterproof and paintable caulk that combines the superior benefits of silicone with the paintability of an acrylic.

When selecting a caulk, keep in mind that most caulks that are "water cleanup" (e.g., most siliconized acrylic and acrylic plus silicone) and are not permanently waterproof.

At what temperature can caulk be applied?
GE silicone caulk can be applied in a temperature range of 40 F to 100 F. However, for the best application, the caulk itself must be at room temperature. Most of our acrylic caulk must be applied when the temperature is 40 F or higher. Generally, it's important that the surface be clean, dry, and frost-free for the caulk to properly adhere to the surface.

How much will one cartridge/tube cover?
One 9.8-oz cartridge is enough for three standard doors (3' x 7') and four windows, or two bathtubs and one sink (50 linear feet with a 3/16" bead). One 2.8-oz tube is enough for one door and one window and small repairs/touch-ups, or approximately two doors (3' x 7').

How do I store silicone caulk?
Push any air out of the nozzle by pushing the caulk all of the way to the tip before tightly replacing the cap. Store in a cool environment. If it is a squeeze tube, push the caulk up out of the nozzle before replacing the cap. Only twist cap until it stops. Do not wrench it or it will sheer and break off. You should squeeze some silicone into the tip of the cap. By doing so, you'll remove the cured silicone plug when removing the top.

back to top

What is the typical cure time (drying time) for silicone caulk?
A 3/16" bead "normally" completely cures in 24 hours. The cure time could vary depending on the moisture in the air. Lack of humidity will make the curing process slower. If the product shows some sign of curing, such as a change in original consistency, it should cure but might take longer than normal. It might take up to 48 hours for caulk to cure under cooler or dryer conditions.

Typical Properties
GE Silicone II* caulk:
  • Tack-free: 30 minutes
  • Water exposure: three hours
  • Cure time: 24 hours
GE Silicone I* caulk:
  • Tack-free: 30 minutes
  • Water exposure: 12 hours
  • Cure time: 24 hours
What does "tooling time" mean?
"Tooling time" is the amount of time you have to work, smooth, tool or otherwise manipulate the silicone caulk once it's applied.

What is the tooling time for caulk?
The typical tooling time is set forth below:
GE Silicone II* caulk: Six to eight minutes of tooling time
GE Silicone I* caulk: Two to five minutes of tooling time

What's the difference between GE Silicone I* caulk and GE Silicone II* caulk?
GE Silicone II* caulk is what's called a "neutral cure" silicone, which means no acids are released during the curing process (as there are in GE Silicone I*). This enables GE Silicone II* to adhere to a broader range of substrates such as plastics, concrete, and metals. Also, the odor of a neutral cure silicone such as GE Silicone II* is much less offensive than an acid or acetoxy cure silicone such as GE Silicone I*.

back to top

What can I use to make the curing time longer, or to thin the caulk?
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, we do not recommend attempting to thin caulk at home. You should choose the product best suited for your application. If you are an industrial customer, contact a customer service representative at 1-866-275-4372 for detailed information.

Do I have to use different caulk products for different jobs?
Yes, caulk differs in formulation and intended use. Its physical properties including adhesion, flexibility, color, opacity, finish, elasticity, and durability vary significantly, so it's important to select the right product for each job.

An easy way to think about it is by classifying the job by category: waterproof, waterproof and paintable, paintable with no water protection, or specialty.

Waterproof: Caulk that keeps water out is a necessity in areas that will be exposed to water, such as windows, doors, kitchens, and baths, so a permanently waterproof caulk is needed. If the caulk is not permanently waterproof, the area could be left vulnerable to water damage and mold growth.

Waterproof and paintable: Some projects require a caulk that is waterproof and paintable. If the area will be exposed to water or the outdoor elements, a permanently waterproof and shrink-/crack-proof caulk is needed. If the caulk is not permanently waterproof and shrink-/crack-proof, the area could be left vulnerable to water damage and mold growth. If the caulk needs to match the exact color of the adjacent surface, it also needs to be paintable.

Paintable with no water protection: For jobs that need to be painted and won't be exposed to water for a significant length of time or the outdoor elements, such as interior molding and baseboards, a paintable acrylic can be used.

Specialty: For a project that is beyond a typical home caulking application, to be used in conjunction with another caulking product, or when caulk isn't appropriate for the job, a specialty product might be needed.

back to top

Troubleshooting Questions and Answers

The silicone caulk is hard in the tube. What should I do?
If the silicone caulk is hard in the tube, it has cured (dried completely). It cannot be used and it most likely has passed its "Use By" date. If the "Use By" date has not been exceeded, the caulk should be returned to the hardware store or retailer for a refund. On a 9.8-oz cartridge, you can find the "Use By" date close to the bottom of the cartridge, and on a 2.8-oz squeeze tube, it is located at the top of the tube, usually above the hole punched out to hang the tube for display. Make sure to check the date prior to purchasing caulk.

The silicone caulk will not cure. What should I do?
Silicone caulk generally cures within 24 hours. If it has been over 24 hours, check the silicone caulk "Use By" date on the package. If the product is older than the "Use by" date printed on the product, safely dispose of the product. It is too old and will not cure. If the product was used prior to that date, contact a customer service representative at 1-866-275-4372 for a complete refund. Be sure to have the caulk so the following information can be provided to the customer service representative:
  • Stock number: The stock number is most easily found near the last four digits of the UPC. It is located on the cartridges at the very bottom line of text, to the right of the UPC.
  • Batch code: This is ink-jet printed on the bottom of the cartridge, or stamped into the top of the squeeze tube.
  • Description of the type of caulk

back to top

How do I remove silicone caulk?
Uncured Silicone Caulk
Remove (scrape, wipe, dig out, etc.) the uncured caulk and then scrub the area down with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to remove any remaining oily residue. Only use solvents in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety precautions and instructions listed on the product label or as otherwise provided by the manufacturer. Material Safety Data Sheets regarding GE branded caulk products are available upon request from us at 1-518-237-3330. When solvents are used, proper safety precautions must be observed.

Cured Silicone Caulk
It is difficult to remove silicone from a surface. However, if you must remove it, follow the suggestions below. First, remove as much as possible by cutting/peeling/scraping excess caulk from the surface.
  • For ceramic tile, marble, Formica®, fiberglass, etc., use 100 percent mineral spirits (turpentine) and a non-abrasive scouring pad. Test the mineral spirits on a hidden area of the surface to ensure that discoloration will not occur. If discoloration does occur, contact the manufacturer of the surface for further assistance.

  • For glass surfaces, use a razor blade to remove as much as possible, then apply mineral spirits. Remove excess with a towel or other suitable cleaning utensil that will not mark the surface (such as a nonabrasive pad).

  • For surfaces that are hard plastics or painted, use rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. Do not use mineral spirits. Only use these solvents in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety precautions and instructions listed on the product label. When solvents are used, proper safety precautions must be observed.

  • To remove caulk from a porous/rough surface (concrete, brick, wallpaper), remove as much of the caulk as possible (same as smooth surface). If necessary, use a wire brush in conjunction with mineral spirits.
NOTE: We do not recommend use of a wire brush to remove caulk from wood surfaces, as doing so could damage the wood. Also, mineral spirits should not be used if the wood has any type of finish on it. Test solvent on a hidden area before applying.

Mineral spirits are flammable and should be used away from sparks, flames, and other sources of ignition. Only use these solvents in a well-ventilated area and follow all safety precautions and instructions listed on the product label. When solvents are used, proper safety precautions must be observed.

Special notes about silicone caulk: There is nothing that will dissolve silicone. If you are reapplying silicone to the area, remove the old caulk, and then clean the area with a disinfectant. If mold or mildew is present, apply rubbing alcohol. Let the area dry before reapplying silicone. Do not use soap to clean surfaces to be sealed because silicone will not adhere to surfaces covered with any soap scum present.

What if the silicone caulk skins before I can tool it?
Work with smaller sections. For example, run a 2-foot bead, stop, tool it, and continue by applying another 2 feet.

Can caulk freeze in the tube?
GE Silicone II* and GE Silicone I* caulk will not freeze in the cartridge; however, for best results, it should be applied at room temperature. However, water-based acrylic caulks will freeze below 32 F. If the acrylic caulk freezes before you use it, simply thaw at room temperature and test before application. In either case, if you are concerned, make sure you test the caulk before application.

I followed the instructions on the back of the tube; however, the caulk is taking a very long time to cure.
The air temperature and humidity in the air can affect how long a silicone caulk takes to cure or an acrylic caulk to dry. A silicone caulk will cure slower when it is cool and the air is dry (low humidity). An acrylic caulk will dry slower when it is cooler out or more humid. Make sure to vary your wait time based on the humidity level.

back to top