Caulk can prevent mildew and mold from forming on your fixtures. Bathroom caulk seals your tub, sink and shower from water. But it does not last for forever. It will crack, peel, discolor and even shrink which could lead to water damage. Fresh caulk can transform your bathroom and make it look new again. Learning how to caulk properly can come in handy.
When To Re-Caulk
You should re-caulk when you see stains or cracks. If you delay your bathroom could get water damaged, which is very expensive to repair. If you can see mildew on the caulk it is best to remove it, kill the mildew and replace the caulk. You can kill mildew by making a baking soda and water paste. Apply the paste to the surface with a brush and clean. Also, hydrogen peroxide will kill mildew naturally.
Caulking A Tub, Shower, or Sink
These are the tools you need to caulk:
- Razor blade
- Caulk gun
- Caulk softener
- Paper towel
- Masking tape
- Denatured alcohol
Note: If you use rubbing alcohol it can leave residue behind.
If your tub or sink needs to be caulked fill it first with water. This will expand the gaps so you caulk will get into the seams and create a better seal for your caulk. Use caulk that is made for bathrooms. Silicone caulk costs more but it does contain a mildew preventer.
Follow these steps to apply your caulk:
- Remove all the old caulk first. Depending on what type of fixture you are working with you may be able to remove the caulk with a putty knife. If the caulk proves to be more difficult to remove try using a razor blade. You can purchase caulk softener at your local hardware store to speed up the process from a home improvement store.
- Work slow and steady. This is not a race. You want to make sure you are removing all of the old caulk.
- Next clean the surface you want to re-caulk. Wet a paper towel with denatured alcohol to clean the tiles. Concentrate on the area that needs caulk. Be careful not to scratch your surface.
- Dry the area with a paper towel.
- Place masking tape on each side of where you want your new line to be. This will make your line look more professional and clean. There should around an eighth of inch on each side of the tape.
- You will need to puncture the caulking tube. A long thin nail works best for this. Use a caulking gun to open the tube and start the process
- Hold the caulk tub over a trash can to point to downward to fill the tip full of caulk. The caulk should flow easily out, not drip. Apply light pressure to the tube.
- Drag the tip of the gun along the crack. Try to match your application speed with the speed the caulk is coming out of the tube. You should not stop until you reach a corner. Use a single steady motion.
- If you need to stop your application, do not forget to ease up on the pressure on the tube. If not, caulk will continue to flow out, making your application look messy.
- Wipe the tube tip clean after each application with a paper towel.
- Do not panic if you notice any excess or thin spots these can be easily fixed.
- Clean the excess caulk by smoothing it out with your finger. Dip your finger in water and run down the caulk line to smooth it out. The extra caulk will seep into the cracks, helping to create a better seal
- Wipe your finger clean and re-wet it several times. . Keep extra paper towels nearby to wipe off your finger.
- If you prefer, you can wrap your finger in a paper towel and smooth out the caulk. Make sure you are not putting the excess caulk on the tiles.
- If you have an area that did not get enough caulk, apply a single bead of caulk there and immediately smooth it out.
How To Finish The Job
Most caulk will dry very quickly. So if the excess dries onto the tile use a razor blade to clean that area up. Make sure you do not damage the seal you have created. If you do not like your first application of caulk, wipe it off before it dries and reapply.