I think the bottom line here is that you put the tape over the caulk
before it was dry enough.
Acrylic latex caulks don't have a chemical curing process like
polyurethane caulks or oil based paints. Instead, they undergo a
physical transformation as they "dry", exactly like acrylic latex paints
do as they "dry".
I'll explain the physical transformation that occurs in latex paints,
and exactly the same thing happens in acrylic caulks, but with different
solvents and different resins:
A latex paint consists of a slurry of solids suspended in a liquid.
The solids consist of:
1. Hard transparent and colourless plastic resins made of one of two
kinds of plastic
2. coarse solids called "extender pigments" that cause the paint to dry
to a rougher finish. Were it not for extender pigments, all paints
would dry to a high gloss finish.
e. fine solid particles called "coloured pigments" that give the paint
The liquid those solids are suspended in consists of:
A. water, and
B. a low volatility water soluble solvent called a "coalescing agent" or
"coalescing solvent". Probably the most commonly used coalescing
solvent is a product called "Texanol" made by the Eastman Chemical
C. glycerine, which is added with the colourants called for in the tint
formula when the paint is tinted at the point of sale.
When the paint is applied to a wall or ceiling, the first thing that
happens is the water starts to evaporate. As the water evaporates, each
of the hard spherical plastic resins finds itself in a bath of
coalescing solvent at steadily increasing concentration. The coalescing
solvent gets absorbed into the hard clear spherical plastic resins
causing them to become very soft and sticky.
The forces of surface tension and capillary pressure which cause tiny
droplets of water to coalesce into large heavy rain drops then take over
to cause each soft sticky plastic resin to stick to and pull on each of
it's neighbors. As that happens, there is a rapid reduction in the
number of liquid/plastic interfaces which reflect and refract light to
produce the colour white in an observers eyes, and the paint film
darkens slightly as a result.
In proper film formation, all of the soft sticky plastic resins pull on
each other with sufficient force to eliminate the phase boundaries
around each resin, and the result is a solid soft sticky film of clear
plastic with the extender and coloured pigments suspended in it very
much like raisins in raisin bread.
Then, over the next 12 to 48 hours, the coalescing solvent evaporates
from the paint film filling the room with that "freshly painted smell".
You can create that freshly painted smell in any room simply by using a
spray bottle to mist some Texanol into the air.
As the coalescing solvent evaporates from the paint film, the plastic
hardens up again to the same hardness the plastic resins originally were
in the liquid paint before the can was opened. Only, instead of being
microscopically small spheres of plastic, they now consists of a
continuous solid film of plastic with pigments suspended inside it.
The above explains why latex paints darken as they dry. Initially,
there is reflection and refraction of light at every plastic/liquid
interface, and so latex paint is white for the same reason that clowds
and snow is white. Your eye sees all the different colours of refracted
and reflected light coming from everywhere in the paint film as the
colour "white". As the plastic resins coalesce into a solid film,
there is a rapid reduction in the amount of reflection and refraction of
light within the paint film, and the paint darkens in very much the same
way that snow loses it's white colour as it melts to form water.
Also, over tinting the paint with too much colourant can ruin latex
paints. The reason for this is that the coalescence process requires
that the concentration of coalescing solvent in the plastic resins
become high enough to fully soften the resins so that they deform easily
to form a solid continuous film with no voids in it. If there was too
much glycerine added when tinting the paint, that will dilute the
concentration of coalescing solvent in the wet paint film after the
water evaporates. The concentration of coalescing solvents might not be
high enough to soften the plastic resins sufficiently that they deform
easily enough to form a solid continuous film.
And finally, painting with a latex paint in cold temperatures can be
problematic because every plastic gets harder when it's cold, and the
cold temperature can make the clear plastic resins too hard to soften
sufficiently from the absorbtion of coalescing solvents alone. That's
why you're not supposed to paint when the outdoor temperature will fall
below 50 deg. F at night.
What very well may have happened is that by pushing the tape on the "dry
to the touch" caulk, you prevented the remaining coalescing solvent in
the caulk from evaporating normally from the caulk. The result would be
that the plastic resins at the surface of the caulk would have turned
softer and stickier as they absorbed coalescing solvent for a second
time. If you pushed the painter's tape onto those sticky resins, they
would have stuck to the adhesive on the tape, and your now pulling that
tape off is taking chunks of acrylic caulk with it.
I don't see any way around this problem. The resins are sticking to the
tape adhesive just as they would wood or glass. I'd say your best bet
it to just pull the tape off, and paint over the caulk so that it sheds
water easily. I'm concerned that if you leave the caulk rough, then
water will collect on it and mold will start growing in those collection
points. Better to paint over the caulk so that the water drains off the
paint surface after a rain.
Next time, allow more time for the caulk to dry before applying the
painter's masking tape.