Recaulking a Bathtub

Is the caulk around your tub brown or even green? Does it start to peel and then suddenly the kids are playing with the new rubber toy they found? You can recaulk your tub in just a short time and do a professional job that will last for years.

First you need to visit the home improvement store and pick up a few essentials. The first thing is caulk, you need a good caulk if it is going to last. No skimping here, buy a good quality caulk with a long durability are essential if you don’t want to be doing this again in six months.

The cheaper and less quality caulks will not last as long and will get that growth inside it that is mold and mildew from the moisture quicker than a good quality one. You need to purchase a more expensive brand name caulk here. DAP and GE both have very good caulks that are both water cleanup and they come in handy tubes like large toothpaste tubes.

These are easy to use and can be resealed for later use. You can get white clear or almond colored according to your preference of color.

I also recommend you buy a little tool that helps spread the caulk into the corner. One kind is made by Homax and is only about a dollar. It is a small plastic tool that has a large groove on one corner and the tip has a small groove. The small groove on the tip when pushed along the corner of the tub and wall with the large groove facing out will spread the caulk into the crack and remove the excess.

There are other brands and all of them have instructions for their use. You will also need a small 1″ putty knife or scraper and a utility cutter or other sharp knife.

We begin by cutting out the old caulk using the knife and scraper. I start at one corner and cut parallel to the tub and make one cut down the whole length of that part. Then I go along the wall parallel to it and make a cut. Then using the scraper pull out the piece of caulk.

Using the scraper scrape any pieces that have adhered to the tub and wall until all the old caulk is out. You need to get out all the old caulk or the new stuff will get mold or mildew from the old stuff and not last as long. Once you have all the old caulk out and scrapped completely you need to clean the whole area with some bleach and water. Just a capful in a small bucket of water and scrub the whole area the caulk will be going into with a small scrub brush. Then rinse, you do this to kill the mold and mildew to prevent it from coming back.

Let dry for a good two hours, this will ensure there are no water deposits in the crack before you add the caulk, or you could use a fan and direct the air toward the tub. This will dry it out faster but still let it sit for an hour at least if you use a fan.

You need to caulk the tub using the tube of caulk and the tool. Have at hand several pieces of paper towel, even the whole roll is handy to have sitting nearby as you will be getting a lot of it from the corners if you have not done this before. Don’t worry about wasting some of the caulk, you will have to do the job properly.

Start by cutting the tip of the tube after you take the cap off. Just cut off a little bit of the tip according to the marks on the tip. About a quarter of an cinch is the most you need to cut off.

Then get in the tub and start somewhere, slowly squeezing as you move the tube along in front of the bead your are leaving behind the tube. Do not push the tip of the tube toward the unfinished portion of the corner. You want to be going with the back of the tube toward the unfinished areas.

Leave a bead of caulk thinner than a pencil behind. If you miss small sections don’t worry about it. You’ll get them filled in when we use the plastic tool. Do the whole tub that you removed the caulk form. Don’t stop and finish one part, it is easier to do the whole job a step at a time.

When you have a bead of caulk in all the corners you need to use the plastic tool. On the one with the large groove from Homax you push the tool along the corner at and angle so that the small groove is pushing into the bead of caulk and pulling the excess into the large groove.

This will leave a very even bead of caulk in the corner of the tub that does not need to be smoothed or touched up if it worked well. Sometimes you may need to go back and touch up an area but you’ll get the knack of using the tool quickly.

If you purchase another tool read the directions on it and follow them. Using a tool like this is so much easier than going by hand and smoothing out the bead with a wetted finger. If you have areas that you cannot use the tool this is what you use to smooth it down.

Using your finger and some water will get the areas smoothed out. Use a lot of water though. The caulk does not need to stick to your finger only the wall and tub. Once you are all done make sure the rest of the occupants of the house know not to use the tub or shower for a day. The caulk should dry at least for 12 hours to dry completely, if the tube says to wait longer you can but the surface will be dry pretty well overnight.

If you start this whole thing in the morning you can have it done by noon and it will be dry and ready to use by the next morning. Enjoy a better looking tub.

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