How to Re-caulk Your Shower and Tub

You’ve seen the ominous signs of aging caulk in your bathroom. First, it was the tan hue along the edges between your caulk and tile. Now, the once smooth bead joint is cracked, opening the way for stubborn clusters of mildew or for water to seep through and damage the wallboard. Whether it’s around your sink or in your shower, it has to go!

Fortunately, caulk is inexpensive and applying it is a simple repair. All you need is an hour and a few common tools from home or a local hardware store.

Remove Existing Caulk

Be sure to completely remove the old caulk – even the residue you can’t see – before re-caulking. Use a utility knife or razor scraper to cut away the old material. Don’t be too aggressive when scraping around granite, marble, slate or plastic as these surfaces tend to scratch easily. If you have a stubborn spot that just won’t come up, you can purchase a caulk-softening product at your local hardware store to aid with removal.

Say Goodbye to Mold and Mildew

After the old caulk is removed, clean the joint edges with isopropyl alcohol and dry with a clean, soft towel. If you notice any mold, apply a mold-killing product and thoroughly rinse with water. Once you’ve removed the caulk and any mold, clean all surfaces one last time with mineral spirits and allow the area to dry.

gloved hands holding a caulk gun

Tape and Caulk

Be sure to read the label of the caulk and utilize a waterproof option, as this is key in an area exposed to water. Prep the area by applying parallel strips of blue painter’s tape about 3/8-inch apart to the joint area being caulked. Cut the plastic tip from your caulk gun to match the size of the joints – typically 3/16-inch. Then, apply steady pressure to the trigger as you move the gun smoothly along the entire length of the seam. As soon as its filled, press a damp, lint-free rag or paper towel into the joint with your finger and pull it along in one continuous motion to shape the fresh caulk into a concave bed. Immediately remove the tape, one strip at a time, and smooth again to eliminate any tiny ridges left by the tape. Wait at least 24 hours for the caulk to cure before exposure to water.

Following these simple steps will give your bathroom a fresh, new seal!