Sanded vs. Unsanded Caulk: What’s the Difference?

Heading for a bathroom tiling project or, perhaps, your kitchen floor needs some remodeling? Is it sanded or unsanded caulk – which type you think would work better?

What’s the difference, can you use them interchangeably???

If that’s the question bugging your mind for a while, we’ve got you covered! Let’s get to know what to pick between sanded vs. unsanded caulks!

And today, we’ve gone through it in a little bit of detail. So this will certainly help you make an informed choice of the two types and you’ll thank us in return, for sure!

Difference between Sanded and Unsanded Caulk

Caulk is an excellent sealant adhesive for most household works, which are made with a mixture of silicone or latex with sand. Some adhesive doesn’t have the added sand; instead, you’ll find some fine minerals. They are known as unsanded caulk.

Sanded & Unsanded Caulk

The major types of caulk are sanded and unsanded due to their different usage and composition. As it is evident from the name itself, unsanded adhesives don’t have sand in them. This type is mostly used for filling smaller joints than 1/8th of an inch while the sanded caulk is applied on joins and bulk applications.

Types Available

Sanded caulk is of a single type with a different amount of sand mixed in the composition only. However, it is the unsanded one that comes in variations for ease of application and flexibility. They are:

1. Acrylic Sealant

Easiest to apply and used when there is a need to paint over it. However, this caulk is prone to shrinkage and leads to cracks along joints.

2. Silicone Sealant

Just opposite to the acrylic option since it is the most difficult to apply. But it is highly water-resistant and the best option for use in showers and sinks.

3. Polyurethane Sealant

Used for heavy-duty jobs and have good flexibility. These are moisture and corrosion-resistant and are recommended using for cosmetic appliances. However, it contains high VOC.

4. Latex Sealant

This one is the best option for outdoor use since it isn’t impacted by changes in weather or temperature. It is highly inflexible and doesn’t contract or expand with temperature change.

Benefits of Sanded & Unsanded Sealants

Caulk is such a household item used to fix almost anything like joints, cracks, etc. So, it is a no-brainer that it will have many benefits.

1. Strength

Strength is one of the main reasons for using these adhesives to fix things. Despite its malleability, while using, it becomes very hard when cured. Sanded caulk has more immensity than unsanded ones. Because of this, you can use it for grout tiles like tumbles marble, or mosaic.

Its strength helps create a strong bond with the grout and saves the tiles from cracking.

2. Water-Resistance

Any sealant needs to be very resistant to water, especially when it is used in wet places like the bathroom or the kitchen. Luckily, most types are water-resistant. However, the most water-resistant sealant is the silicone type. When sealed over joints, it saves you from all the troubles caused by damages due to water leakage.

3. Ease of Application

Without silicone adhesive, most of the other types, including the sanded ones, are very easy to use and apply. However, care must be taken that the application process ends before it dries.

You can apply the adhesive using a gun or by rolling the end of the tube in your hand. However, a sealant gun would always make the entire process easier. Also, cleaning the excess amount is very easy with just clean water and a sponge.

4. Mold Resistance

Sanded caulks are usually more prone to create a place for habitants like mold and mildew. Due to the excess use of sand and water, mold growth is facilitated. On the other hand, an unsanded adhesive is entirely mold-resistant and doesn’t bear a horrible smell either.

5. Flexibility

Sanded caulk is much less flexible for the sand present in it. The sand makes it rock hard once it is cured. Also, due to the inflexibility, it’s more susceptible to cracks.

However, unsanded caulk is highly flexible, and that’s why they are more versatile also. Due to this, they are less prone to cracks and breakage.

Uses of Sanded and Unsanded Sealants

Both sanded and unsanded caulks have distinct usages. While the primary usage of using caulk is to fix cracks and gaps in household surfaces, the specific uses of different caulk types are different.

1. Filling Large Gaps

Sanded caulk is used to fill large gaps, which makes the sealant extremely strong.

2. Supporting Grout

You can also use sanded caulk to support grout and create permanent sealing around areas with lots of water contact.

3. Sealing Small Gaps and Joints

Unsanded joints are used for sealing tights joints smaller than sanded joints. Since these caulks shrink after drying, using them for bigger spaces would be counterproductive.

4. Right Carpentry Errors

When there is some error in carpentry works, using unsanded caulk in that area and painting them to match seems to disappear that said error visibly.

Sanded or Unsanded Caulk: What’s Best in What Circumstance?

The major difference is the strength of the cured sealant and whether it shrinks or not. Sand is used to increasing the strength to be used for bigger cracks and joining tiles.

Meanwhile, narrow joints are filled with unsanded caulk because they are easily malleable, enough flexible, and their degree of shrinkage won’t affect the sealed portion.

Besides, sanded caulk is more likely not to resist mold formation, so they are best not to be used in bathrooms and kitchens. Therefore unsanded caulk is best suited for those areas.


The main purpose of this article was to give a basic and general idea about the difference between sanded vs. unsanded caulk and its uses. However, this information is valuable for any novice DIYer as it makes all the difference in having a successful project done.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use sanded sealant in the shower?

Answer: We do not recommend sanded sealant to be used in the bathroom, but the space around the shower pipe can use it where it meets the wall.

2. Is sanded caulk waterproof?

Answer: Sanded caulk is less waterproof than unsanded ones and, therefore, more prone to mold formation.

3. How long does it take for unsanded caulk to cure?

Answer: Witching 24 hours, you can expect it to cure fully. But this time may vary on account of differences in environment.

4. Can I use unsanded caulk on baseboards?

Answer: Yes, you can use it around baseboard corners and crevices. The gaps between the walls, floor, and baseboard are usually small enough to be filled with it. And, we mostly recommend you go with an acrylic latex adhesive for this purpose.

5. Can I use sanded sealant instead of grout?

Answer: Grout and sanded caulk are both used for fixing tiles in the house, and both have less water-resistant properties. These two are similar in more ways than they are different. That is why only in few circumstances can they be used interchangeably.

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