Caulking cracked all along countertop?



Hi there:

I'm just finishing up a remodel I was doing of my parents' kitchen (basically the first time I've done any of this), going around and doing touch-ups. There's one thing that's really annoying me, and that's the caulking for the backsplash. All of it has cracked, and before I rip it out and do it again, I need to know what I did wrong. Here are some pictures to show what I'm seeing:

The first picture shows where the tile meets the counter. The second is the tile meeting the cabinets. The third is the area between the sink and the window frame. The fourth is another part of the counter. The cracking is not specific to any area, it's basically the entire thing, tile-counter and tile-cabinet. The only spot that shows no signs of cracking is the corner where my two tiled walls meet. And here I was worried when I started that it'd be the grout cracking (it hasn't, looks great)!

Here's a shot of the section of kitchen that has a backsplash:

I'm not sure what information I'm going to need to provide, but here's a bit to start:

- I left approximately 1/8" at the top and bottom for caulk, about half that around the window frame. The tiles are either 3/8" or 1/4" thick, which means that's about how thick the caulking is. There's nothing behind the caulking except the plaster wall, as I cleaned out most excess mastic and grout. I applied the caulk fairly slow, making sure the gap got completely filled.

- I used Flextile Ltd. Tile & Grout Caulk, non-sanded, ordered for me from the tile store.

- My method for caulking is to lay some painter's tape (in this case at least) to keep everything straight and clean. I put the caulking in, and then I go along with a glass of water and my finger. I dip my fingertip in the water and shake the excess off so I'm not getting it too wet. I then run my finger along until either I've gathered enough excess on my finger or I feel my fingertip is dry again. Tape comes off right after. The other places I've done this, such as the baseboard or redoing the windows have had no issues.

- I think the counter was installed around the beginning of September 2011, the backsplash about 4 weeks later, and the caulk about 2 weeks after that. Starting to wonder if I should have let things settle longer, or if it's the cold weather.

If I need to provide more info, let me know.
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26 Apr 2005
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United Kingdom
Looks like normal shrinkage to me, is it a new build? Were the walls also replastered? Secondly you say caulk; not sure if that’s a “Canadianism” but did you use decorators caulk or silicone? The website says it’s a siliconized acrylic formula, I’m not entirely sure what that means but it may not have the elasticity of silicone sealer. In the UK, we use a quality anti-bacterial silicone sealer, preferably neutral cure; if you can get it, Dow Corning or many swear by Everbuild Forever White.

Your method of application is OK but most pro’s would not use masking tape or “gizmos”. Getting a good uniform bead is largely technique & a little practice; the most common mistake is to try & run the bead slowly when in fact you should do the opposite & run the bead fast in a single seamless motion. I silicone in two stages; first run a good bead between the underside of the tile & countertop using an uncut nozzle forcing silicone into the gap (I allow 2mm). Clean off any excess, cut the nozzle to the required bead size & immediately run a second silicone bead between the front face of the tile & the countertop. Pull/angle the gun away from the bead, don’t push it into it; finish off with a wet finger.
30 Jun 2009
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United Kingdom
I would check for movement on counter top and you wall cabinet, if excessive movement the seal will start to fail.
Also it would have been better if the tiles had been tighter to the are being sealed.
I would rake out the sealant, give the area a good clean, co no bits or residue. Then I would firstly firstly feed a flexible grout in to your joints, leave it to dry, then seal it. As the amount of sealant you are using in one go, could also be leading to shrinkage.

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