In the past 10 years, I’ve learned a lot about simple home repairs that can improve the appearance of your home. Before I married a carpenter, I usually just pulled loose caulk on the bathtub or my mom would re-caulk the tub. Going on a few jobs with my husband, I found out how simple some repairs are if you take your time. Patiently, he helped me learn how to caulk bathtubs.
What is Caulk?
The basic types of caulk are latex, silicone and spray insulating foam. Silicone caulk works better outside whereas latex caulk is water soluble, making it a better choice for caulking bathrooms and other places that get a lot of moisture. Contractors use caulk to keep water from getting into wall and under tiles. Moisture leads to mold and mildew in the bathtub and can even damage the structure between tube tiles and walls. This simple repair saves a homeowner from costly repairs from damage caused by rot. You can find caulk at hardware stores for less than $10 a tube.
What You Need
-tub of clear or white silicone caulk
-tub and tile masking tape
How to Caulk Bathtub
Clean work area before removing caulk. Use bathroom surface cleaners and soap scum removers. This increases the success of the job because less moisture is introduced than if you wait to clean after the job is finished.
Remove old bathroom caulk using a utility knife, putty knife, razor or chisels. Scrape and pry out any caulk that is difficult to remove. Once old caulk has been removed, one-part chlorine bleach mixed with three-part water and a pinch of laundry detergent to clean surface again. If the bathroom has windows, open them for ventilation. Wear masks and protective gloves in bathrooms without windows. Take an old toothbrush to scrub between the crevices. Rinse, dry and wipe with alcohol.
The previous steps remove soap scum but will not remove mildew. Use a strong mildew cleaner to get rid of hard to clean mildew. Let cleaner soak in before wiping the bathtub with a hot, wet sponge (use plain water). Either wait overnight so bathtub can complete dry before caulking or use heat gun to dry quickly.
Determine the amount of bathroom is needed to seal the area and place tub and tile masking tape above and below the open seam. The tape should be exactly 1/8″ or ¼” apart. The tape serves as a guide when caulking the bathtub. Make sure tape is smoothly affixed to wall and tub surface.
Squirt a bead of bathtub caulk on the open seam, using wet fingers to evenly smooth caulk into the open seam. If too much caulk is applied to the bathtub, it will appear lumpy. If you don’t apply enough caulk, use small amounts of caulk to fill in the gaps. Remove tape before caulk dries.
Let bathtub caulk dry overnight before taking a bath or shower.
Unless your home has extensive mold damage, caulking a bathtub is not a hard job. It does, however, require patience and precision to do the job right and not add too much or not enough caulk. You can take a few hours out of your day to do make this minor repair to the bathroom and can save you from hiring a contractor if water damage occurs.