Removing old caulk and refreshing areas between the tile and your tub helps prevent leaks and mildew. Refreshing your bathroom and recaulking can take just a weekend afternoon — with few tips you can do it quickly, and it’ll look great.
A good caulking job starts with a good gun, and a few pro tips, of course.
A pro-gun does cost more, but this makes a big difference in the neatness of your work. Most homeowners will use a ratchet rod caulk gun, while pros typically use dripless or electric caulk guns. The more advanced guns have a more consistent pumping action and make applying caulk more predictable and smoother.
You’ve heard that you get what you pay for — when it comes to caulking guns, a few extra bucks can make a difference.
Choosing the right caulk for the job helps prevent water from leaking through and the growth of mold and mildew, so your caulking job lasts longer.
You can use silicone or acrylic latex caulk in the bathroom. You need to learn about both to choose which is right for the job. You can also choose a colored caulk to match your bathroom tile.
This step is super important. Although patching over older caulk can be a short-term fix, you’ll get better results by cleaning the area and applying fresh caulk.
Removing the old caulk isn’t difficult, but it can be time-consuming if not done with the right tools. Products are available to soften it and make it easier to remove. You may also choose to make your own solvent. Just carefully follow the instructions on the product you choose.
Once the old caulk is soft, you can begin scraping it away using a plastic putty knife. Do not use sharp instruments, like razor blades or painters’ tools, as they can scratch your tub, shower or sink surfaces.
You’ve removed the old caulk, and there’s still some work to do. All dirt, dust and mildew must go if you want your caulking job to look professional and last as long as possible. Clean the areas between the wall and tub or sink with paint thinner and wipe dry.
To kill any mildew, clean the joints with a homemade cleaning solution for surfaces made from 3 quarts of warm water, 1 quart of chlorine bleach and 1/3 cup of powdered laundry soap. Mix ingredients in a spray bottle and thoroughly wet the area. Leave it on until you notice the mildew turning white. Rinse with clean water.
Taping the joint on both sides and leaving about a ¼ inch seam in the joint can help create a more professional look and clean edges. Using masking tape or blue painters tape to mark where you want to caulk also protects the surrounding surfaces.
Always use long pieces of tape, and make sure those pieces are straight.
Now that joints are prepared and cleaned, it’s time to get your caulk gun and tube ready.
First, cut the tip off your caulk tube. You may see marks of where to cut, but for smaller beads, you may want to cut closer to the tip at first until you try a line. If the opening is too small, you can always take more off the tip.
Do make sure you make a clean cut on the tip by using a sharp utility knife and cut at a 45-degree angle.
Next, load your caulk tube into your caulking gun.
If this is your first-time caulking, you may want to practice on a piece of newspaper to get a feel for the gun and amount of pressure needed before you caulk the seam you’ve so carefully taped.
Once you feel ready after a few practice beads, go for it:
Continue these steps for all joints.
You want to remove the tape before the caulk has skinned over. Silicone caulk dries fast, so you want to remove the tape after you’ve finished each section. With the tape removed, the line should look smooth and neat. If it does not, you may want to wet your finger again and run it across to clean it up a bit.
If you find that some caulk beads have don’t have clean edges, you can fix them up. Just use a plastic putty knife and trim the edges to a smooth clean finish.
Wait about 24 to 36 hours before using your tub, shower or sink. Caulk must cure fully before use. Allowing the seams to dry reduces the chance of mildew later and makes sure your nice lines remain that way.
Once you get the hang of caulking, you’ll want to find other caulking projects to tackle around the house.