Hot Topics: Can I Paint Over Silicone?

A column and porch with cracks that all need to be filled and painted.

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Silicone is an amazing and versatile material, but one thing it can’t do is accept paint. Certain tubes of caulk feature the word “paintable” prominently on the label. When they don’t, you might find a tiny blurb on the back that warns you not to. If you used the wrong stuff, the forum can help you out of the corner you painted yourself into.

Original Post: Painting Over GE Silicone II

diy409 Member

In trying to repair cracks in an old weathered wood porch I used GE Silicone II, which I later found out is not paintable. Is there any solution I can use to paint over this caulk, or must I cut out all the caulk and start over? A massive job.

Any advice is appreciated.

Highlights From the Thread

chandler Forum Topic Moderator

Sadly, yes, the only way to get paint to adhere to the area is to remove the silicone and apply a caulk which states "paintable" on the tube. If you are worried about expansion and contraction, you could use an elastomeric caulk such as Big Stretch.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

Not ideal, but you could apply a couple coats of pigmented shellac (like Zinnser's BIN) over the silicone caulk and then paint. Removing the silicone caulk is the only other option.

wildbill7145 Member

In my experience, nothing will stick reliably to silicone including silicone.

Chandler, I used Big Stretch when I lived in Vancouver a few times. It was amazing, but I've never seen it again. They don't seem to sell it much in Canada except for in specialty stores. Boo.

czizzi Member

“Nothing will stick reliably to silicone including silicone.”

How true... Does anyone know why this is still on the market?

If you are lucky the silicone will not have adhered very well to the work you did. I run across silicone quite often in repairs prior to my showing up. More often than not, I can get a hold of the bead of silicone and pull it off in one long continuous piece. Crossing fingers that yours will be just as easy to remove.

wildbill7145 Member

“Does anyone know why this is still on the market?”

I asked this question of a friend of mine a while back whom I consider to be the best GC and most knowledgeable I've ever known. I'm sure in certain situations it does perform better than latex-based products, but that doesn't mean it has to be used everywhere in a bathroom. His response was a shrug of shoulders and basically said "It's what plumbers have always used."

A while back I was hired to paint a bathroom where the woman's husband used silicone on the joint between a shower surround and a painted wall. The gap was 1/8-inch. It appeared he must have used the palm of his bloody hand to smooth it out (seriously, his bead was at least ½-inch on either side of the joint) and she wanted me to remove the silicone as it looked horrible. I told her this could prove very difficult, and she said she understood and wanted me to try anyway.

After 4 hours, using every tool I owned that could assist in this venture (many), and two different types of silicone softeners, I surrendered. I was at best removing 10 percent. Whatever brand of product he used it was incredibly adhered. I told her she should punish her hubby and make him take it off. She did. I never did hear how it turned out.

diy409 Member

My case is as bad as it gets: an old weathered wood porch where silicone was applied to all the larger splits and cracks. Based on what I read, my plan is to scrape out as much as possible, sand by hand, and re-caulk with DAP paint-able.

I will never be able to get 100 percent. Would it be advisable to go over the area with Zinsser BIN prior to primer?

wildbill7145 Member

If you're going over it with BIN (which is a primer) I see no need to prime on top of that.

You used silicone on ALL the cracks on the old weathered porch? This, sir, will truly be a lesson learned the hard way and one you'll never forget.

czizzi Member

My tools for when I re-caulk a tub or shower and need to dig out all the old caulk are:

  • Stiff Putty Knife
  • Razor Scraper
  • Utility Knife
  • Hook Caulk Removal Tool (Workforce 3-in-1 Caulk Tool-CT31HD at The Home Depot)

If you scratch up the tub or the utility knife leaves black scrape lines, clean and polish with Soft Scrub with bleach on a dry towel.

Let us know how it works out.

diy409 Member

Yes, a lesson well learned!

Although I make no excuses because it is my mistake, I wish the makers of GE Silicone II would specify NON-PAINTABLE prominently on the tube rather than in obscure microscopic lettering on the back.

Today I will scrape and sand as best as I can, re-caulk with DAP and tomorrow prime with Zinsser triple thick peel stop. The areas in question are the foot/base areas of old wood porch pillars --- not a huge area, but ornate with detail which is what makes it painstaking.

For more on how to prime and paint after the silicone’s out, go to: //