Caulking a shower is a simple project that most home owners can do themselves. If your shower has peeling caulk or no caulk at all, take the time to get the seams sealed properly. To get the job done correctly, you need to use a caulk and tools that are right for your surface. Then with a bit of time and the right technique you will have a well-caulked shower that will keep water and mold out of your walls and will look great.
[Edit]Removing Old Caulk and Cleaning the Surface
Slice away any old caulk. There are a variety of tools you can use to remove the caulk, but it's most effective to slice it off with a razor scraper, utility knife, or five-in-one painter's tool. Using quick, sharp strokes, slice under the length of all old caulk beads. Go along each edge of the caulk with your blade to get it removed.
If you are caulking a new shower, there won't be any caulk for you to remove.
Note that metal blades and chemical caulk removers can damage plastic tubs. Use a plastic blade if your tub or shower is made of plastic.
Pull out loosened pieces old caulk. Once you have loosened the caulk with a knife, pull it off using your fingers. In most cases, if you sliced along both edges of the caulk thoroughly, you will be able to grab one end and pull a long strip out all in one piece.
If you can't get a section out easily, cut along the edges again and try to pry it out with the knife.
Clean out any debris and residue in the seams. After you slice off the majority of the caulk, there will likely be some small pieces left on the walls. Scrub the sides of the shower with a dry, nonabrasive pad or sponge to remove as much of the old caulk as you can. Follow that by wiping down the surface with rubbing alcohol or scrubbing it with a multi-surface cleanser to remove any remaining caulk, shower scum, or grease.
If your old caulk was made of silicone, use a pad or rag soaked in mineral spirits to break down any remaining bits of caulk.
Use a soft rag and not an abrasive one, so that the shower surface is not scarred.
Wipe the area down and then let it dry. Use a damp, clean rag to wipe all seams. This will remove any cleaner, caulk dust, and other dirt from the area. Then dry down the area thoroughly with a dry rag, hair dryer, or paper towels. You can also simply let the area sit until you are sure the seams are all completely dry.
If you leave debris or dirt on the surface, the new caulk will not stick as well and not last as long.
Line the joints with painter's tape. Place a strip of tape on either side of each joint being caulked. The lines of tape should run parallel to each other and be spaced roughly 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) apart from each other.
The tape is being used to help keep the bead of caulk straight and uniform.
[Edit]Choosing and Prepping the Caulk
Pick a caulk that is made for use in showers. When selecting a caulk for your shower, use one labeled "Tub and Tile" or "Kitchen and Bath," as these are chemically formulated to resist mildew and to stick to smooth surfaces like your shower. In particular, there are 2 types of caulk usually used for showers:
Silicone: This is a very flexible, tough, and waterproof caulk. On the downside, it can also be difficult to smooth and may require the use of mineral spirits to clean up. The color range can also be fairly limited.
Acrylic latex: This caulk is easier to apply, clean up, and smooth out. It also comes in a wider range of colors. However, it dries harder and shrinks more than silicone caulk does, so acrylic latex caulk will probably have a shorter lifespan.
Pick out a professional-grade caulk gun. Cheaper guns tend to be less predictable and may lead to sloppier application. A professional-grade gun applies more consistent pressure.
A cradle caulk gun will produce the best, most even pressure and is a better long-term investment than a frame caulk gun. If using the latter, though, get one that is labeled as being "dripless."
A professional level caulk gun typically does not cost a lot. Power caulk guns can be very pricey, but all you need is a professional hand-powered caulking gun, which might fit into your budget better.
Trim the nozzle of the caulk container. Trim it near the tip, cutting it off at a 45 degree angle. The hole should be smaller than the joints you are sealing. As a general rule, the hole of the tube should actually be 2/3 the size of the joint you are filling. The measurement for most showers should be about .
Use a utility knife with a fresh blade or a 1-inch (2.5-cm) wide, razor-sharp chisel to cut the tip off the nozzle.
Some tubes of caulk will even have a line on the nozzle to indicate the point at which you should cut.
Smooth out the edges of the tip after cutting it off, if necessary. If a piece of plastic remains hanging on the nozzle after being cut, pare it down with your utility knife or a piece of sand paper. Otherwise, this little burr can prevent the bead from being smooth.
Puncture the inner seal in the caulk tube. Push a nail or small dowel down inside the tip of the caulk to puncture the seal. The seal is at the back end of the tip where it meets the tube. This releases the caulk into the tip and allows you to apply it.
If a nail does not prove long enough, use a thin, stiff wire, such as electrical wire or a coat hanger.
Load the tube into the caulk gun. How you insert the tube depends on what type of gun you have. In most cases, you will start by pulling the plunger of the gun out to its fully extended position. Then put the tube in the chamber of the gun and push the plunger down into the core of the tube until it stops.
In some cases, once the plunger is in place it will put enough pressure on the tube that caulk will start coming out of the tip right away. Just be prepared for this and catch any caulk coming out with a moist rag.
Give the handle a little squeeze. After placing your caulk tube in the caulk gun, give the handle a slight squeeze to begin the flow of the caulk. Release the pressure off the handle once you see the caulk at the tip and clean off any excess with a moist rag.
This brings the caulk right up to the tip of the caulk tube, so it will be ready when you bring it up to the shower joint.
[Edit]Applying Caulk to the Shower Joints
Position the caulk gun tip at the top of the seam you're starting on. The hole in the tip should be pointed at the center of the joint and should be in contact with the joint. Also, position the tip at a 45-degree angle down the line of the joint so that the tip is pointing slightly in the opposite direction of how you will be moving down the joint.
Apply even pressure as you move the caulk gun along the joint. Press the trigger gently to release the caulk bead into the joint. As you move the caulk gun along the length of the joint, continue applying even pressure to create an even line.
You can either push or pull the gun. It is entirely a matter of preference, so do whichever option feels most comfortable to you.
If you are right-handed, try bracing the nozzle with your left hand and squeezing the handle with your right. For left-handed individuals, try the opposite.
Match the speed you move the gun to the speed the caulk is flowing. As the caulk starts to come out, keep moving the gun along the seam you are filling. If the rate at which the caulk is flowing differs too much from the rate at which you move the caulk gun, you could end up with too little or too much caulk along the seam.
If you move the caulk gun too fast, the bead will become too thin and will break into chunks along the seam.
If you move the caulk gun too slow, you will end up with excess caulk in the seam, wasting caulk and making smoothing out the seam cleanly more difficult.
Smooth the caulk while it is still wet. Use a dampened finger or a moist, lint-free cloth rag to smooth out the bead of caulk immediately after applying it. If using a rag, press it into and along the caulk with your finger to apply enough pressure to make the bead smooth. If using your fingertip, clean your finger off periodically with a damp rang to prevent the caulk from smearing beyond the seam.
You can also press the bead down with masking tape to create an even line. Just be sure to pull the tape away before the caulk starts to get tacky.
Work in a continuous motion to avoid inconsistencies and to create a smooth, concave line.
If you can do the caulking and smoothing at once, you will save yourself time. Place the tip of your index finger over the joint as you caulk. By applying a small amount of even and consistent downward pressure, you will be able to apply and smooth the caulk at once.
Smoothing is essential for both aesthetic and practical purposes. During the smoothing process, the caulk is forced to adhere more securely to the surface it fills and the finished product looks more neat and professional.
Wear a disposable nitrile, latex, or vinyl glove to protect your fingers from wear and tear and to keep them clean. Wearing gloves makes the process much easier to clean up afterward since the glove can simply be removed and thrown away.
[Edit]Cleaning up after Caulking
Clean up with a damp rag or mineral spirits, if necessary. Clean up any areas where caulk has accidentally gotten on the shower surround before it dries. For acrylic caulks, use a damp rag to clean up mistakes. For silicone caulks, wipe down any excess caulk with a soft cloth rag soaked in mineral spirits.
Remove the tape before the caulk is dry. Peel the tape off slowly and do not let it touch any of the fresh caulk. If the tape left ridges of caulk behind along the edge, clean these up by smoothing the area out again with a damp rag or damp finger.
Pull the tape off at a downward, outward angle. This will keep the removed tape away from the bead, minimizing the chance of messing it up.
Let the caulk cure before using the shower. Look at the label on your caulk tube for curing times. In most cases, it's a good idea to wait at least 24 hours before running the water or using the shower.
If you run the water over the caulk before it finishes curing, you might rinse some of it away or cause it to smear and run, creating a big mess and weakening its seal on the seam.
Some quick-curing caulks only need to cure for about 30 minutes before you can get them wet.
[Edit]Things You'll Need
Utility knife or other sharp blade
Nail, small dowel, or wire
Mineral spirits, if necessary
Disposable gloves (optional)
Keep in mind that caulk won't make your shower waterproof, so if you have a leak anywhere, you need to address that before you caulk.
↑ [v161452_b01]. 14 August 2020.
↑ [v161452_b01]. 14 August 2020.
↑ [v161452_b01]. 14 August 2020.