Mold can and will grow in any humid environment. Case in point: bathrooms. Even with the best ventilation systems available, it’s all too easy for mold to begin developing. When it does, you shouldn’t leave it alone. Unchecked mold can lead to respiratory problems and other illnesses, especially for those who are immuno-compromised or have pre-existing respiratory illnesses. Nobody wants to put themselves or their families at that sort of risk.
Gaps between your bathtub or shower and the wall are the perfect place for mold to grow. As old caulk wears away and the gaps grow, more moisture can work its way inside the gap over time. The more moisture seeps into that dark, secluded place, the better mold can develop. So, what do you do if you notice mold developing in the seals on your bathtub? Recaulk it, of course. Here’s how you can do that right now:
What tools do you need?
Before you caulk a tub, you’ll need the right tools. Here’s a comprehensive list you can use when preparing for your project. Make sure you have the following:
- A caulking gun.
- A tube of caulk. Not all caulk is the same, so make sure you choose the right variety for your project.
- A pair of rubber work gloves.
- A razor scraper with single-edge razor blades.
- A utility knife. This can act as a stand-in for the razor scraper if you either a.) don’t want to buy one or b.) can’t find one.
- Denatured alcohol.
- Paper towels or old linens for clean-up.
How do you caulk a tub?
Step 1: Removing the old caulk
- Remove the old caulk. This is where your razor scraper comes in. This is the tool you’ll use to cleanly remove existing caulk. You’ll just scrape using the razor, replacing the razor as necessary, until all old caulk is removed. Plastic blades are preferred, as metal can damage tubs that are made of plastic. The easiest way to scrape the old caulk is by using quick, sharp strokes with the scraper. Be careful!
- Clean the old caulk away. Wipe things up. Remove any leftover physical pieces. You can also use a vacuum to suck up any leftover pieces.
- Wipe things down with denatured alcohol. This is the final step toward cleaning in preparation of applying new caulk. It’ll remove any stray pieces that your other efforts have left behind.
Step 2: adding the new caulk
- Add your new caulk. Make sure the caulk you purchased was formulated for the sort of tub you use. Then load it into the gun. Cut the tip off of the tube at a 45 degree angle, push the application gun through its nozzle to break the seal, and get ready to work.
- Apply the caulk. There are a few things you’ll want to do to make sure this goes smoothly. First, take your time. Second, use painters tape to aid you with straight lines as you apply. Third, hold the caulking gun at a 45 degree angle from your edging. You want to make as little mess as possible and leave as little room for mistakes.
- Smooth the caulk. Caulk is initially applied as a long tube. Use a damp paper towel or rag and press it gently into the seam you’ve created with your finger. Run it along the caulk in a continuous line to create the clean look you’re going for.
- Remove the tape and let the caulk dry. Remove the tape so it doesn’t get stuck as it dries. After that, let it dry. Don’t touch the caulk or use your tub for at least two days after application. After that time has passed, though, your re-caulked tub will be ready for action.
What should you do if you have a problem while caulking your tub?
Caulking a tub is a mid-level plumbing project. While the process itself is fairly simple, it still poses challenges. There’s no shame in having trouble with any part of the process. If you do run into issues, it’s better to defer to a professional than to keep pushing on on your own.
A professional plumber will be able to help you fix anything that has gone wrong. They’ll also be able to figure out why you ran into trouble and help you fix your technique for future projects.
We have to give you a warning. We’re sorry to say, but now that you know how to successfully caulk a tub… everyone you know is going to ask you to help with theirs. Can you blame them? It’s a pretty impressive skill that you’ve picked up.
If you don’t have the time, you can send everyone asking you for help our way. Tell them to call the team at Mike Diamond for help with any part of their home’s plumbing. Including re-caulking the tub.