Kitchen and bathroom remodeling is exciting, but sometimes a new faucet is all it takes to brighten a space. So, perhaps you’re installing a new faucet to replace the old, battered one (or as a mini facelift). As you prepare for your installation, you begin wondering if caulk is necessary when installing a new faucet.
After a bit more digging, you discover caulk isn’t a bad idea. So, what kind of caulk should you use? For a kitchen or bathroom faucet (or really any faucet), silicone caulk is your best bet. We’re here to explain, so continue reading to learn more.
What Kind Of Caulk Do You Use For A Kitchen Faucet?
There are a few different types of caulks designed for various projects in and out of your home. You can buy acrylic latex caulk, silicone caulk, and specialty caulk (like butyl-rubber caulk), although silicone and acrylic are the most common types. So, which type should you use on your kitchen faucet?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to steer clear of acrylic latex caulk for waterproofing projects. Pure silicone caulk works best for kitchen and bathroom applications, as its waterproof nature helps it withstand the moisture in the space.
So, when you buy a tube of caulk for your new faucet installation, look for a silicone option. These products often feature kitchen and bathroom labels, so keep your eyes on the lookout for those labels as well.
Do I Need To Use Caulk For New Faucet Installation?
While applying caulk to a new faucet isn’t essential anymore, it’s not a bad idea. Most new faucets come with a rubber gasket that eliminates the need for a bead of caulk. That said, these gaskets can fail to create a waterproof seal effectively, so it doesn’t hurt to have an extra layer of protection.
The bead of caulk around the faucet can help prevent water from seeping underneath the faucet. When water pools under the tap, it creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew.
On top of that, the water can drip down into the base cabinet via the faucet holes cut in the sink deck. The longer the problem remains undetected, the more damage it’ll do to the cabinet. It can saturate the cabinet, creating a second home for mold and mildew.
So, even though it isn’t 100% necessary, it’s not a bad idea to incorporate it as a precaution.
Can I Use Plumber’s Putty Instead Of Caulk?
While plumber’s putty works in place of silicone caulk, it might not be your best option for your faucet installation. Plumber’s putty works excellently – it’s easy to apply, can be removed and reapplied several times, and offers excellent durability. When you’re ready to remove it after a few years, you don’t have to fight with it to get it to lift. On top of that, you can easily scrape away excess putty if you accidentally use too much.
However, plumber’s putty doesn’t work as an adhesive. Added security is one of the reasons many folks use caulk on their faucets, so plumber’s putty won’t work for this aspect. Of course, you can use plumber’s putty for the installation, especially if you don’t have caulk on hand, but keep in mind it won’t serve as added security.
How Do You Caulk A New Faucet?
When installing a new faucet, it doesn’t hurt to apply a bead of caulk to the installation. Generally, you should apply a bead of clear silicone caulk to the underside of the faucet, around the edge of the gasket.
Although the gasket offers a seal of its own, adding a strip of caulk to the bottom of it doesn’t hurt. Once you apply the caulk to the bottom, position the faucet on the sink deck or countertop.
Push the faucet firmly onto the surface to ensure good contact, then secure the tap to the sink deck (usually with connection nuts under the sink). If any silicone caulk oozes out from underneath the faucet, use a paper towel to clean it up.
For a smoother finish, dip your finger in water and run it along the base of the faucet to create a seamless appearance between the sink and faucet. Use mineral spirits to clean up stubborn spots.
7 Tips For A Headache-Free Faucet Installation
Installing a new kitchen or bathroom faucet is a fairly straightforward task, but it can quickly become a complicated mess. Here are a few tips and tricks to avoid stress during your next faucet installation:
- Fully prep the area: After removing the old faucet (if applicable), thoroughly clean the area. Remove old, caked-on caulk, dirt, and grime. If there’s any gunk left over when you install your new faucet, the silicone caulk might not adhere properly.
- Don’t forget to turn off the water: While this might seem a no-brainer, it’s easier to do than you think! So, before disconnecting the old faucet, be sure to turn off the water and drain excess water from the lines (by turning on the faucet and letting it run until no water comes out).
- Invest in a basin wrench: If you have large hands, tightening the connection nuts securing the faucet to the sink deck can be tricky. The space between the sink basin and wall can be narrow, so tightening these nuts by hand is difficult. So, to simplify the process, invest in a basin wrench – these tools are inexpensive and will allow you to tighten the faucet nuts quickly, so they’re well worth it!
- Replace old supply lines: If your old faucet had old-style connectors, they might not work with your new faucet. Sometimes, they’re too short or stiff to maneuver into place. So, consider investing in braided connectors, as they’re flexible and hold up well.
- Remove the aerator before flushing the faucet: As you wrap up the installation, you’ll probably find an instruction in the booklet to remove the faucet’s aerator before turning on the tap. Don’t disregard this instruction – debris from the pipes and faucet will move through the faucet when you flush it, so remove the aerator to avoid trapping it in the spout.
- Hang onto extra parts and instructions: Most of us toss the instructions and owner’s manual as soon as we finish the installation. We toss the extra parts in our junk drawer (never to be seen again) and don’t think twice about either. However, it doesn’t hurt to hang onto these parts, just in case. A plastic bag is the easiest way to keep track of everything – toss the manual, instructions, and parts into it, then hang it inside the cabinet using a binder clip and a brad nail.
- Check for leaks: Last but not least, check for leaks. Most of the time, folks install a new drain at the same time as a faucet, so you’ll need to ensure each component has a watertight seal. Turn on the water, then watch below the sink for drips from the supply lines, P-trap, drain pipe, and sink drain.