If you’re considering re-sealing your shower and bathtub, then you’re probably wondering: how soon can I use a shower after sealing?
The answer depends on various factors, including the amount of humidity circulating your bathroom, the type of sealant used, and the adhesive area. However, typical drying times can range from anywhere from three hours to 48 hours.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you’ll learn in the article and how you can tell what types of grout you want to use.
Caulk Versus Grout
When you’re sealing your shower, chances are you’re either using caulk or grout. Both have excellent properties and excel for different reasons, and both have different drying times.
Usually, when people talk of sealant, they’re referring to caulk. Caulk is made of lighter, airier materials like silicone. Because of this, caulk dries much faster than grout.
Some silicone-based caulk can dry in a matter of hours. But, even if you buy a fast-drying caulk, you should still wait a few hours before showering as you don’t want to ruin your freshly applied sealant.
When using caulk, you should build between three and 12 hours for the product to try and then another 24 hours to cure. Some caulk products (like latex-based caulk) can take a full 24 hours to dry, whereas other caulks (like polyurethane caulks) can take up to 10 days to finish curing.
On the other hand, grout is better for bigger jobs. Grout is much more porous than caulk and is much heavier than caulk. Because of this, grout can take 24-48 hours to dry thoroughly.
Chances are, you are going to use both materials when re-doing your shower sealant. Combined, you will need to wait three days for your grout and caulk sealant to dry thoroughly.
Because of this, you may want to make plans to use another shower so as not to interrupt the drying process.
Several factors impact how fast (or slow) a sealant dries. The first significant factor is the amount of humidity in the room.
Contrary to popular belief, humidity quickens the drying process in many sealants. Silicone-based caulks especially need moisture to both dry and adequately cure. If you’re using silicone caulk, you may want to purchase a humidifier for the room.
Other sealants, though, need a drier environment. An acrylic latex-based caulk dries once the water leaves the material. Because of this, homeowners can place fans in the room to help speed the process up.
Polyurethane caulk is perhaps one of the more high-maintenance materials as it sometimes takes up to a whole week to be ready to use.
As you may have guessed, temperature plays another significant role in how fast sealant dries and cures. And, again, the outcome largely depends on the materials used. Some perform better in other temperatures. For example, latex and polyurethane both can freeze and not cure properly in cold temperatures.
Warmer temperatures are essential for silicone, too, as it cures faster in warm environments. As a result, you should keep the temperatures higher as most caulk is silicone-based. Don’t go too hot, though, as heat can melt the silicone.
What Happens When You Don’t Wait
If your tile is not fully sealed, water can sneak in behind the tiles and build up. Over time, this will lead to the creation of mold and make the tiles not function properly.
Of course, after damage causes extensive damage, and you will have to re-do the job.
Speeding up the Process
Some people like to take hairdryers to speed up the drying process. In theory, yes, this does work. Sealant dries when exposed to oxygen, so adding more oxygen will theoretically speed up the drying process.
However, this method is a bit labor-intensive and will only shave off an hour or so from the process as a whole. It might just be better to wait.
If you know what type of caulk reacts best, you can increase or decrease humidity and temperature to speed things along. However, it might be best just to let it do its thing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about shower sealant.
Can You Seal Over Old Sealant?
Some homeowners think a quick fix is to merely seal over the old sealant. However, this is never a good idea. Older sealants usually have wear and tear.
More often than not, they have splits or cracks in them. Simply piling a new coat on top would not fix the problem. In addition, it looks unsightly.
What Happens If Silicone Sealant Gets Wet Before It Dries
If your sealant gets wet before you let it finish drying, the silicone won’t perform as needed. Once water gets underneath, you can have mold growth, or the water can compromise the stability and effectiveness of the sealant.
Why Is My Sealant Black?
Unfortunately, if you notice that your sealant has turned black, this is a sure sign of mold growth present. Mold growth happens when water seeps in underneath the sealant.
Either the sealant couldn’t correctly dry before you began showering, or there was a crack or hole in the material that allowed water to slip through. Regardless, if you notice mold growth, you will need to remove the existing sealant and reapply.
Deciding how long to wait before you can shower after applying sealant depends on several factors.
First, you must consider the type of material you are using; if you are waiting for caulk to dry, you may want to inspect further to see what material it is made of and how long you should wait. You can try to speed up the process by altering temperatures and adding or removing humidity.
However, make sure that you are entirely confident before going into the shower, as if the sealant has not dried correctly, the added moisture will lead to more problems further down the line.