Unless your bathroom is brand-new, it might be time to replace the caulking around your bathtub, sink, and toilet. Not only can the brown tone of the edges look bad, but the brittle texture makes way for mold to settle in and for water to penetrate, which you should definitely avoid.
Removing old caulk and replacing it is a very easy job for an experienced bathroom remodeling professional, but it can be tricky for homeowners who have never touched it. If you want to replace it yourself, below is a thorough step-by-step guide on how to caulk a bathtub along with tips to make it easier!
Step 1: Removing old caulk
Start by closing the drain and cover the entire bathtub with a cloth to protect it. Take the razor blade and carefully remove the old caulking. Keep the blade angle as low as possible.
Step 2: Scrub caulk residue with a soft rag
You need to be careful to remove every last bit of caulking. If there is any residue left in the tub, the new caulking will not stick.
First, remove any dust from the caulking with a wet cloth. Then, dry the area well with paper towels, a dry cloth, or even a hairdryer. A dry, non-abrasive pad cleans away all traces of caulking residue.
If you’re dealing with silicone, you can use a sponge soaked in turpentine. To avoid scratching the plastic, use a soft cloth dampened with the same product.
Step 3: Tape off the wall and start applying new caulk
To make sure your new caulk will look seamless, it’s good to tape off the wall, just like you would do before painting to have a clean line. Place strips of blue tape, about 3⁄8 inches apart, to keep the caulk straight, even, and secure.
Hold the caulk gun pointed at the same distance from the surfaces on either side of the joint and about 45 degrees away from it. Apply constant pressure to the trigger while moving the gun along the entire length. Move it at a constant speed according to the rate at which the caulking is flowing out of the nozzle.
Step 4: Smooth out the caulk with a lint-free rag or paper towel
Moisten a lint-free cloth or paper towel and press it into the joint with your finger. Pull it along the joint in a continuous motion to shape it fresh into a concave bead. After that, immediately remove the tapes one at a time, taking care not to let them touch anything.
Smooth it again to eliminate the small grooves left. Silicone caulking needs 24 hours to cure to ensure it is completely waterproof, so don't touch it before that. If you need to use the shower, wait at least 12 hours.
What are the Most Popular Types of Caulk?
Now that you know how to re-caulk a bathtub, it’s good to consider your options. How to know which caulk you can use?
The best caulks for your bathroom remodeling come in tubes labeled “Tub and Tile or “Kitchen and Bath. They are acrylic or silicone latex that have been adjusted to resist mildew and adhere to smooth, non-porous surfaces. However, they are distinctly different.
Pros: Tough, waterproof, and very flexible.
Cons: This caulking is difficult to smooth, needs mineral spirits for cleaning, and emits an odor until cured.
It also leaves a residue that is difficult for anything to adhere to. That's why silicone surfaces should be scrubbed with an abrasive sponge soaked in turpentine to be removed.
Color options: Only in transparent, white, and almond colors.
Pros: This type of caulking is much more forgiving in terms of surface type and cleanliness. It's easy to straighten, cleans with pure water, and doesn't have a strong smell. Replacement is also quicker.
Cons: It shrinks and dries more compared to silicone.
Color options: Comes in a variety of colors to match the sink and tub.
After choosing your preferred options, you can start your bathtub remodeling right away. Talk to a local professional and request a free quote!
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