Caulking is an important maintenance process that ensures that no water seeps into the tiles or along the joints between tiles and your bathtub or shower stall. Remember: do not take leaky or aging caulk for granted.
What could start out as a harmless brown tinge along the edges of the caulk, could eventually lead to brittleness and cracks. Leaks in turn, pave the way for water to ooze in, causing mold and mildew buildup, or could loosen tiles in the surrounding area. Once it reaches that point, the repair process can be more expensive and time-consuming. Get rid of leaky or aging caulk before this happens!
Got exactly this problem right now? Lucky for you, caulk is cheap and recaulking your tub or shower is not as complicated as you think. You can even do it yourself! With a few common tools and some materials from the hardware shop, you can have new caulk in your bathroom in no time… or maybe in an hour or two.
Here are the five easy steps to caulking:
1. Remove old caulk. Old caulk can be stubborn. But removing it isn't that hard and you have many options to doing it. You can use a heat gun to soften caulk if it is water based. You can also use a sharp, plastic razor blade; metal blades can scratch sinks and tubs. There are also caulk removing products like Caulk-Be-Gone and Adhesive and Caulk Remover, but these can harm plastics.
2. Scrub the area smooth and clean. The best material that you can use to remove all traces of caulk residue is a dry, non abrasive scrub. Silicone caulk can be cleaned up using a soft rag slightly wet with mineral spirits. You may also opt to wipe the area clean with denatured alcohol.
3. Apply mildew cleaner. Before recaulking, spray the joint with a mildew killer to completely eliminate any hints of remaining mildew. Once this is done, dry the area thoroughly with paper towels, a dry rag, or a hair dryer.
4. Tape then caulk. For a professional-looking job, apply parallel strips of tape first along the length of the joint. Use blue painter's tape and have them around 3/8 of an inch apart. The caulk should go between these two strips and the tape should help keep the application straight, even, and away from surfaces where it shouldn't be.
Although you have the option to use a caulking gun, squeeze tubes are easier to control for the novice user. You would want to make the tube opening just right – not too large – so as not to apply too much caulk on the joint. You could always add a little more caulk to spots that need it, rather than spread over large blobs of caulk.
5. Smooth and remove (tape). When done, dampen a lint-free rag or paper towel and putting this over your finger, smoothen the caulk into the joint with your finger, pulling it along in one fluid motion to have the fresh caulk form into a concave bead. Remove the tape one strip at a time, and take care not to let it touch the fresh caulk.
Wait 24 hours before using your bathtub or shower.
There you have it! An easy, do-it-yourself solution to your leaky caulk and mildew problem.