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Home Maintenance

When and How to Apply Caulking to your Bathroom

When and How to Apply Caulking to your Bathroom

A solid, bright white line of new caulking on a shower or bathtub adds a sharp, fresh look to it. Applying caulking to your bathroom is a simple project that will not only freshen up its looks, but also protect your home from potential water damage. Bathroom caulking is specially designed to protect from the humidity and water in the bathroom, but if it is left unmanaged for too long, water can start to seep in and down into the bones of your home.

So when is the right time to reapply the caulking in your bathroom? And what are the steps to take? Follow along and you'll be set to remove the old caulking and reapply new caulking in no time.

When to apply

The best thing you can do for your existing caulking is to clean and take care of it. You should regularly clean your caulking with a store-bought cleaner. This will help it maintain its appearance and strength for a longer time. However, caulk generally has a limited lifespan and over time, you may start to notice stains that won't come clean anymore, or pieces that are missing or loose. If you notice your caulking has those kinds of issues, it's time to start from scratch and reapply it.

Remove old caulking

Before you can apply new caulking, you have to fully remove the old material from the area.

A caulk softening agent will make getting rid of the old caulk much easier, which usually comes in a gel form. Apply it directly to the old caulk line and follow the manufacturer's directions to determine how long to let it sit. This will soften it so you won't have to spend as much time prying and pulling.

After the caulk has been softened, it's time to remove it. Use a utility knife to cut a line along the length of the old caulk, cutting it away from the surfaces it's bonded to. Make sure not to scratch the surfaces you're cutting the caulking away from. After you've cut away the majority of the caulk, use a putty knife to scrape and peel away smaller pieces that remain there.

After you've removed it all, clean up the area with a vacuum to remove the debris between the joints. If there is residue on the surface, you can use a cloth and a solvent such as rubbing alcohol to clear it up. Do one last wipe before applying the new caulking.

Apply new caulking

To get the straightest line possible, prep the area with painter's tape. Do this by putting one piece of painter's tape on each side of the joint you're going to apply the caulking to.
The most important thing you can do when you're caulking your bathroom is to choose the right product for the job. Bathroom caulking is made to withstand a damp environment. Other caulking will deteriorate much faster if applied in this kind of environment. A caulking gun is essential to ensure you apply the caulk evenly along the entire length you're covering.

Open the tube of caulking with the utility knife. Cut the tip at a 45-degree angle. You want the width of the hole to be about 1/8 of an inch but it doesn't need to be right on. After the tube is cut, load it in the caulking gun.

Apply the caulking in a straight line along the joint between the pieces of tape from beginning to end. Once applied, wet your finger with water or use a caulk applicator to smooth the length of the bead into the joint.

After you've smoothed out the caulk to your liking, remove the painters tape immediately at a 45-degree angle. Allow the caulk to set for a few hours. Be especially particular about following the product's timing instructions if you're planning on taking shower or bath in your newly caulked tub shortly after.


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