DIY Shower and Bathtub Caulking

It is a good idea to examine the caulking around showers and bathtubs regularly.

If you see loose pieces, mildew or other grime, it may be time to re-caulk, which is something that needs to be done about every year or two in most cases.

Maintaining the caulk around showers and tubs will prevent mold and bacteria from building up, but even more importantly, it prevents leaks and dry rot from attacking your walls, floors and sub flooring.

You can avoid ugly mold and mildew with these easy to follow instructions on re-caulking your shower or bathtub.Re-caulking is an easy do-it-yourself project for most any homeowner to complete in a couple of hours, so roll up your sleeves and let’s get started!

What you’ll need:

  • Silicon caulk remover and utility knife or razor blade to remove old caulk
  • Putty knife
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • New caulk formulated for bathtubs, silicone is best
  • Caulking gun.
  • Painter’s tape

Step by step instructions to re-caulking your shower or bathtub:

  1. Start by getting together the tools and materials required. This will save time versus making multiple trips to the hardware or home improvement store.
  2. Remove the exiting caulking. Using your utility knife, cut away all of the caulk along the edge of the bathtub or shower stall. Be sure to get as much of the old caulk out as possible. It’s best to make inspections as you go and revisit areas that need additional caulk removal.
  3. Next apply silicon caulk remover to remove any remaining caulk in seams and surface areas. Follow the directions, which usually recommend letting the remover sit for a couple of hours.
  4. Use the edge of your putty knife to remove any remaining caulk, digging out seams and crevices thoroughly. The silicon caulk remover makes the old caulk much easier to dig out of these spaces.
  5. Next, clean the shower or bathtub edges and walls with rubbing alcohol to remove any mold, grime and mildew. A mixture of water and chlorine bleach will also work. Let everything dry completely.
  6. Once everything is dry, use painter’s tape to mask off edges around along the walls and edges of your shower pan or bathtub edge, leaving about 1/4 inch space around seams.
  7. Insert silicon caulk tube into the caulking gun. Cut the tip at a 45-degree angle, following instructions provided on the tub. If you don’t have a caulking gun, some silicone caulks are also available in packages that do not require one.
  8. For bathtubs, it is recommended you fill the tub with water, allowing the weight of the water to open the seam between the tub and walls. This way you will get a nice, wide bead of caulk, which prevents the caulk from stretching or cracking.
  9. Wet your fingertip to smooth the beads of fresh caulk.

  10. Start in one corner and run a bead of caulk along the edge of the shower pan or bathtub. Be sure to keep constant pressure on the trigger as you pull the gun in the opposite direction you have the tip pointed. Try to run a continuous bead along one side of the shower or tub, releasing the trigger and lifting the caulk gun at the end of each run.
  11. Between each run, clean the tip of the caulking tube with a paper towel or rag. Repeat this process for each seam. Wet your fingertip and run it along the caulk beads to smooth and spread the caulk.
  12. After 10 to 15 minutes, you can remove the painter’s tape, peeling it away at a 45-degree angle so as not to smear the wet caulk. Let your caulk set up 24 hours before you use the shower or tub.

Re-caulking Tips:

  • You can find inexpensive tools in hardware or home improvement stores that make removing old caulk easier. They also allow you to spread and smooth the new caulk more easily.
  • If you wetting your finger with liquid dish soap instead of, you can smooth caulk more easily without having it stick to your finger.
  • Make sure the caulk you buy is made for use in bathrooms and kitchens, which is formulated to be mildew and mold resistant.
  • You may want to let everything dry for a day between removal of the old caulk and application of the fresh caulking to be sure things are nice and dry in the seams. Using a fan will help speed the drying process.

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