Silicone vs caulk: What's the difference and how should they be used?

Two caulk cartridges side by side with on ein caulking gun on pink wooden table
(Image credit: Steven Jenkins)

They look the same, they fit in the same gun, so when its silicone vs caulk, which should you be using? Both are sealants and have common characteristics i.e. they are waterproof, but subtle differences make them suitable for different DIY jobs.

It is important when caulking or applying silicone that you use the right one for the right job. Choose the wrong sealant for the job and you are likely to encounter a few issues later down the line. The sealant may start to leak, which can lead to serious problems elsewhere, or paint can start to peel meaning more work further down the line. 

Here we look at the key differences and what jobs they should be used on. 

Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a freelance content creator with over two decades of experience working in digital and print and was previously the DIY content editor for Homebuilding & Renovating. 

He is a keen DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating the many homes he has lived in. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has a wide range of skills gleaned from working in the building trade for around 10 years and spending time at night school learning how to plaster and plumb.

He has fitted kitchens, tiled bathrooms and kitchens, laid many floors, built partition walls, plastered walls, plumbed in bathrooms, worked on loft conversions and much more. And when he's not sure how to tackle a DIY project he has a wide network of friends – including plumbers, gas engineers, tilers, carpenters, painters and decorators, electricians and builders – in the trade to call upon.