How to Caulk in the Bathroom

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In the bathroom, caulk is needed around sinks, tubs and shower stalls to keep hazardous moisture out of the joints between surfaces. When the existing caulk becomes brittle, stained and cracked, its time to replace it. Damaged caulk will let water into the joints and create a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Avoid the hassle of cleaning up this dangerous growth by keeping the fixtures in your bathroom properly caulked. Regular maintenance and replacement of caulk will keep the bathroom clean and beautiful.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Mildew cleaner
  • Painter's tape
  • Scissors
  • Sponge
  • Select the best type of caulk for your project. Acrylic latex is the easiest option for do-it-yourself application. This type of caulk can be cleaned up with water, is easy to smooth and comes in a wide range of colors. Silicone caulk may last a little longer than the latex alternative, but this type of caulk requires mineral spirits to clean it up and is more difficult to smooth. Silicone is available in clear, white and off-white colors only.

  • Remove existing caulk with a plastic putty knife. Silicone caulk will need to be softened with a heat gun or hairdryer first. Some commercial cleaning products can also be purchased for the express purpose of removing caulk.

  • Clean the surface with denatured alcohol. Follow this with a cleaner designed to remove mildew. This should take care of any stains and growth on the surface. If the previous caulk was seriously damaged, you may have mold or mildew beneath the surrounding tiles. If this is the case, you will need to remove these tiles completely to clean beneath them.

  • Line the area to be caulked with painter's tape on either side. Apply the tape slowly to ensure that it is in a straight line. Leave approximately 3/8 of an inch between the two strips of tape for the caulk.

  • Snip the tip off of the caulk container with clean, sharp scissors. You should cut the tip off at a 45-degree angle. Keep the opening small. You can always cut back farther if you don't get a thick enough line of caulk, but you can't repair an opening that is too large.

  • Aim the nozzle of the caulk container at the taped joint and squeeze to begin applying the caulk. Move the nozzle slowly and evenly along the joint, caulking as you go.

  • Dampen the tip of your finger with a wet sponge. Run your finger over the caulk to smooth it. Apply additional caulk in any uneven areas and smooth again.

  • Remove the painter's tape as soon as you have smoothed over the caulk. Leave the caulk to dry for at least 24 hours before using the area you have just caulked.

Tips & Warnings

  • Complete the entire caulking project in one sitting. Leaving in the middle can result in uneven joints.

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References

  • Photo Credit bathroom image by Vonora from Fotolia.com
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