Bathroom Caulk. Sealing your bathtub, tile shower or sink may be a hassle. But trust me, it’s much easier and less expensive than spending thousands on mold and water damage repairs.
Failed Bathroom Caulking Causes Mold and Water Damage
Bathroom caulking’s contribution to mold and water damage in your bathroom is usually a result of one of two failures. Understanding these two failures will help you take the appropriate action to avoid an expensive home repair to your bathroom.
First, is the failure of old caulk that needs to be replaced with newer, more advanced products. Maintaining your shower, sink, tub and counter top caulking is a critical home maintenance task, as caulk typically has a lifespan of no more than 10 years.
Second, and more common, is the failure to use the correct type of caulk designed specifically for bathrooms. Vinyl and latex-based products are often incorrectly used in bathrooms because they are inexpensive and readily available. But they aren’t nearly, flexible, durable or waterproof as silicone based caulk. In almost all instances, you should use a silicone-based bathroom caulk for showers, tubs, sinks and any other fixture in the bathroom.
You Might Need to Caulk Your Bathroom If…
- If you see mold or discoloration along the sealant
- The caulk shows signs of cracking
- Any section of caulk is missing or damaged
- Any part of the bead of caulk no longer adheres to the surface
Taking action quickly of you note any of these signs will prevent water damage from water intrusion behind the gaps and seams in your fixtures.
What Type of Bathroom Caulk Should I Purchase?
There are many great brands of silicone-based bathroom caulk on the market today. I prefer GE products, but many are similar in price and quality. You will want to make sure to use silicone caulk that is water and mold resistant and rated for bathroom use.
Silicone bathroom caulk comes in a variety of colors to choose from, including clear, to match your decor. You can even find “grouted” shower caulks sold at tile supply stores that are designed to match perfectly to an associated tile grout. In either case, use a caulk that is less noticeable and blends well with your bathroom’s surroundings, as it will provide a more professional and pleasing appearance.
A typical tube of silicone-based bathroom caulk costs around five dollars. In addition to caulk, you are will also need a caulk gun which will run you about another five dollars. $10 and a few hours of your time is a small price to pay to save you thousands of dollars in future repairs!
Follow these steps to properly caulk your sink, shower or tub:
- To apply a new bead of caulk, you must first remove the existing caulk. You can use a screwdriver or plastic putty knife; anything that will get in the crack and remove the scraps.
- After you remove the caulk, rub the area with isopropyl alcohol to get a clean workspace. Cleaning the crevice to be caulked with alcohol is essential to obtain a proper bond between the new caulk and the surface.
- Next, tape off the area to avoid getting caulk in places where you don’t want it. In addition, it will give you a sharp bead of caulk like the professionals do.
- Then apply the caulk with the gun starting closest to your body and working away. This will help push the caulk further into the joint.
- After you apply the caulk, use your finger to smooth and compress the caulk and remove the tape before the caulk begins to dry.
- Finally clean up any mess you may have made and allow the caulk to dry. Silicone caulk takes anywhere from 3 to 24 hours to dry, so plan accordingly!
Replacing the caulking in your tub or shower can brighten up your bathroom at a very affordable cost. Inspect the caulking around your shower or tub and determine if the caulking has began to turn dark with mildew. If it has it is time to replace the old caulking with fresh, new caulking. The main purpose of caulking is to protect your walls from water damage but it will also greatly enhance the appearance of your bathroom.
Choose a caulking that is formulated for a bathroom and is mildew resistant. Don’t purchase caulking that is made for use on exterior surfaces since it will not hold up well when used in a bathroom. Whenever you buy your caulking don’t buy the cheapest caulk that you can find. A quality caulking will have a good moisture barrier and will last much longer. It will also resist mold and mildew better.
To complete this project you will need a caulking gun if you do not have one already. You can purchase a caulking gun cheaply at any paint or hardware store. You will also require a utility knife, a putty knife and some old rags to clean up.
Begin by removing all of the old caulking. Using a utility knife cut along the edge of the caulking away from the surface. Usually after you began cutting the caulking, you can pull it off in large sections. Use a putty knife to remove any stubborn caulking which still remains.
Thoroughly scrub the areas where the caulking has been removed using bleach. This will kill all mildew that may still remain. Let the area dry completely before you begin to apply caulking.
Next, fill your tub with water. Water weighs eight pounds per gallon. Once your tub is full of the eight pound gallons of water in addition to your own weight, the tub will flex which will drop down and away from the wall which will cause the caulked joint to open. It is important to caulk the joint when it is as wide open as it possibly can be so that the new caulking will last much longer. After you have filled the tub with water, cut the tip off of your tube of caulking and apply a fresh bead of caulking directly to the joint where the old caulking was removed. Once you have applied a bead of caulking to the entire area, use your finger and run it along the fresh caulking in order to even it out. You may wish to wet your finger first as this helps to keep the caulking smooth.
Allow the new caulking dry for a minimum twenty four hours before you use your tub or shower so that the new caulking can cure. If you need to clean up any excess caulk you can use a wet rag.
You need to inspect the caulking around your tub or shower and also around the sink on a regular basis. Water can cause a great deal of damage when the caulking is not replaced after it has began to deteriorate.
Re-caulking your tub or shower will require a little time and hard work but it is worth the effort.
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