Expired sealants and caulking: Check them like eggs.

caulking gun

We don’t think to look, but sealants (caulking) do expire so check the date before you buy.  Most companies will put an expiry date on the sealant itself.  When buying a loaf of bread or eggs, usually you can push the date a little if need be, but I don’t advise that with sealants or construction adhesives, especially with silicone.  Old silicone has the tendency of not curing properly.  What happens is after you apply the silicone, it is still “wet” and never cures.  Save yourself some trouble and dispose of old sealants. Usually the sealants are good for about 12 months or so.   Some other less expensive sealants like acrylic (alex plus is a good example) have a similar shelf life, however from my experience, you can push it a little longer if you expect little movement in your application as the acrylic tends to set (dry out) rather than stay wet as with silicone.

Buildingology lessons learned

  • Check the expiry date of all sealants
  • Don’t use expired sealants, or you will end up having to clean it up.

Plumber’s putty or silicone around your toilet?

When installing a toilet, the final step involves creating a seal around the toilet to the floor.  Some plumbers use plumber’s putty, some grout the toilet to the floor and others use silicone sealant (caulk) for that final connection.  The application of silicone is much quicker and experienced plumber can probably do it in just a few minutes, where the plumber’s putty may take more effort and time.

You can see the plumber’s putty line. It is tan coloured, and slightly dirty.


If you have any young children who like to flush things down the toilet, you may have to remove the toilet to remove a toy, or even car keys.  This is a very common issue.  The silicone sealant, can be cut really easily with a sharp knife, but when you have to put the toilet back on the floor, the old silicone is stuck to the toilet and floor, and can be really difficult to remove.  Yes, you must remove the old silicone before you put the toilet back on.  Don’t forget to use a silicone remover to remove the residue left behind on the toilet and the floor.  A product called “Silicone be gone” by DAP is a good product and is available at most hardware stores.  The biggest advantage to silicone is that the product is very sticky and is easy to achieve a good seal around the toilet.

Plumber’s putty

The putty provides a little bit of  stability in preventing your toilet from rocking back and forth ever so slightly when you sit on it (or stand).  The only issue is if the toilet is not tightly secured to the toilet flange and rocks, your seals is gone, where silicone may be a bit more forgiving, but not much.  You also have to contend with the fact that the putty gets dirty after a few years.   Also, the putty will dry out slightly after a few years, and shrinks ruining your seal.  If this really bugs you, you can always shave the surface with a knife and apply a fresh layer on top.  It takes about 10 minutes to do that.


This is something I have only encountered recently. It provides a perfect fit. Yes its a great seal, but how the heck will I ever be able to remove it?

I have recently switched to using silicone as a preferred method due to the fact that it maintains the best seal against sewer gases entering the home.  The cost?  A tube of quality silicone costs about $6.  The putty costs about $2.50 for a small container, so cost should not be an issue when considering this purchase.

Buildingology lessons learned

  • Silicone is easier to install, but more difficult to remove when servicing against plumber’s putty.
  • Silicone provides better seal to the floor during installation due to stickiness, and has better resistance to expansion after it sets, which for both reasons, it my preferred method.
  • Don’t use grout.  Ever.