Bathtubs need occasional re-caulking to protect them from moulds, mildew and leaks and a general maintenance to clean it periodically. Ordinary acrylic caulk is generally rated to last 15-40 years, depending on its type, but in practice, it rarely lasts that long. After years of exposure to moisture, it can get hard and brittle or alternately, mushy and moldy. In neither of the cases does it act as a good barrier against water. With this, arises the need for re-caulking. The process of caulking requires a methodical approach and some patience; plus a few handy tips and inexpensive, helpful products. Explore tips on how to caulk a bathtub neatly, quickly and efficiently.
- Rubber Gloves
- Plastic Spoons
- Painter's Tape (the blue masking tape)
- Knee Pads
- Caulking Gun
- Silicon Caulk (you can choose from different color options)
- Newspaper or Plastic Trash
- Paper Cup, with water
- Wet Rash
- Enlist the important items and tools that will be required to caulk your bathroom.
- Pre-clean the work area with a good bathroom surface cleaner / soap scum remover, before removing the caulk. By doing this, you will introduce less moisture around the tiles, than you would if you clean it afterwards.
- Find out the kind of caulk that was used before. If it’s rubbery and soft, it can be pure silicon caulk. If it seems to be very hard, then it is probably water-based latex or PVA caulks, such as Polyseamseal, Phenoseal, or one of the hardware store brands.
- Place some layers of newspapers at the bottom of the bathtub, so that you don't scuff up the tub surface with your shoes. You could take off your shoes, if you prefer that.
- A caulking gun or a heat gun can be used to soften hard water-based caulk. Once the caulk is scraped off, the area should be thoroughly cleaned.
- Now, re-lay the newspaper at the bottom of the bathtub and apply two horizontal lengths of painter's tape parallel to the wall/tub joint; both approximately 3/8"-1/2" from the joint. Apply on both the tub and the wall surfaces, all around the length of the joint to be sealed with the silicone caulking. Press firmly to ensure reliable adherence.
- Place a tube of silicone caulking into the caulking gun and press the squeeze trigger until you feel slight resistance. Carefully cut the tube nozzle on a slight angle, of approx 45 degrees, with a razor knife or diagonal wire cutters.
- Sit at a kneeling position in the tub area and apply the silicone caulking in one of the corners. Set the nozzle with the nozzle angle-cut in the corner against the wall and tub surfaces. Gently, but firmly, squeeze the trigger and begin drawing the bead of caulk away from the corner.
- Slowly and continuously apply an evenly-sized bead of silicone material within the confines of the painter's tape, all the way to the opposite corner.
- Reposition yourself, if necessary and repeat this along the other two wall/tub intersections.
- After caulking the tub with silicone, you can begin to smooth it out and press it into the joint area.
- Using the plastic spoon, with the rounded side down, apply slight pressure to begin shaping the radiused bead. Wipe excess caulking from the spoon, to prevent overspreading beyond the painter's tape.
- Inspect the painter's tape to be sure the silicone is feathered smoothly and thinly at the edge of the tape. Wipe excess silicon with wet cloth.
- Wait for approximately two hours, before gently pulling off the painter's tape away from the tub or wall; as perpendicular to the surface as possible.
- Allow the silicone to dry for 24-48 hours, to prevent uncured material from losing its sealing effectiveness.