How to Re-Caulk a Shower

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Step by step instructions to re-caulk that moldy shower and make it beautiful again.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat razorblade scraper or sharp putty knife
  • Bleach and a empty bottle to mix a bleach water solution
  • A few washcloths that can be thrown away
  • Tub and shower caulk (I prefer the polyseamseal)
  • A caulk gun with automatic stop or buy the tubes that you squeeze
  • Safety glasses
  • Mask when bleaching
  • Getting the old caulking out. Start by taking the flat razor scraper and pushing down at a slant on top of the old caulk, start at the top and go all the way down toward the tub. It should start to loosen up. Repeat the same process to the bottom; pushing toward the shower wall. If the caulking is very old, it can sometimes be pulled out. Once it is loosened, work it out with the scraper or anything that you feel comfortable using. Make sure that where the shower and tub wall meet, there are no chunks of caulk; it needs to be completely smooth. Once the main line of caulk is removed, take a flat scraper and scrape off any caulk you can see. Getting it out is the most time consuming of the whole process. Then, take a small cloth or sponge depending on what kind of shower you have. Do not use anything too abrasive on a fiberglass shower, as it will scratch easily. Wipe it down well. Make sure that there is no caulk left on the tub or wall. If you have a fiberglass shower, you have to be very careful with the blade; you may want to use a metal putty knife with a sharp edge instead. There can be flying caulk depending on how hard you have to dig and push, so you want wear safety glasses.

  • I always clean the whole area with a bleach water solution every time I re-caulk because if there is any mold I can get rid of it. Mix the solution depending on how bad the caulk was. If it was not broken and blackened you could use a weak spray. If it is real bad you will want it a little stronger. Use your goggles and mask for safety and start spraying. It is good to let it sit for three hours or so; make sure to open the window for ventilation. Once you have waited several hours, go in and spray the area down with warm or hot water. Wipe it down with a cloth checking for any loose caulk. The shower needs to be completely dry before caulking. Usually overnight.

  • Getting ready to caulk. Take the tube of caulk, look at the tip. There are usually lines to guide you depending on how thick of a bead is needed. I usually cut the second line. Cut it at a slant and not a blunt cut. Sometimes you need to poke the protective seal inside, not all tubes have this. Sometimes caulk guns have a poker on them, or a real small skinny screwdriver will work. Pull the lever all the way back and insert the tube of caulk in the gun. Give the trigger a few squeezes to hold it in, not too much or it will come out before your ready to use it. Get the washcloths dampened enough to keep your finger moist. This step can be messy if you have never done it. Always start at the top, the walls first, top to bottom. The tip of the tube with the slant should be flat against the surface. Squeeze the trigger to get it going. Once the caulk is coming out, try to keep a steady bead without stopping going all the way down to the tub and let go of trigger. Take the cloth and get your finger moist not dripping water, just moist. Take your pointer finger or middle finger and very gently run the tip of your finger over the caulk all the way down. Try to do it in one steady action. Push hard enough to seal the edge. Practice on a small section first, if necessary. Do all the walls first. Start with one edge of the tub, one steady bead and wipe your finger off. Where the beads meet, keep wiping until it is a nice little cove shape. If you have to caulk shower doors or faucets, use the same process. Once caulked, allow the area to dry 24-48 hours before showering.

Tips & Warnings

  • It looks easy, but it is difficult in the beginning; it does become a skill once you've mastered it.
  • Make sure always to have a moist finger when smoothing caulk.
  • Always use caution when using bleach and razor blades.
  • When working with colored tubs and walls, be very accurate with the beading.

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  • Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons PD Images
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