Re-caulking the Bathtub for a Fun Saturday Night

12 04 2010

I know, I’ve been a bad blogger lately. I promise that I’ve been diligently working on a number of home projects, but blogging instead on work-related subjects over at Zen and the Art of Legal Network Maintenance. So I’ve got a lot to catch up on!

I’ll start with my project from Saturday night – re-caulking the bathtub. I know you’re jealous that I spent Saturday night scraping caulk out of the tub.  Admit it.

I had bought a tube of caulk a while ago – I went with a bright white caulk (to match the bright white grout in my tub) and made sure it was for use in the bathroom.  The existing caulking in the tub was gross – admittedly, I should have done this a while ago (like, right after I moved in), but it was only something I noticed recently and finally got around to this weekend.  Caulking is important because it helps to keep the moisture out of the seams around the tub, which can lead to mold.  I may or may not have had some mold under the caulk in my tub.

See, it's grody.

The first step is to clean out the existing caulk. I’d bought a handy little tool for this, and although it started out working okay, I later ditched it in favor of a spackel knife, which worked much better.

Handy little caulk remover tool - careful, it's sharp!

Use the pointy end to scrape out the caulk (note: this picture is just for show since I had to use both hands to try to pull the caulk out while not injuring myself)

Then, use the flat side of the tool to scrap out any excess. If your last homeowner was like mine, there will be caulk glopped everywere.

You have to be careful not to scratch the tiles up (which is why I started with the plastic tool), but it took me about 2 hours to scrape out all the caulk and using the spackel knife was much more efficient! Making sure it’s very clean is important so that the new caulk will adhere properly to the tile.

Ah, so much better already!

Once it’s all cleaned off, the instructions on the tube suggested using rubbing alcohol over the surface to make sure it’s really clean. Since it was 10pm on Saturday night by that point and I didn’t have any rubbing alcohol, I first wiped it with a sponge and then one of those clorox bleach wipes and let it thoroughly dry.  (I also wanted a little bleach to get in there in case I DID have mold)

When I was finally ready to put the new caulk in, I found myself wishing for one of those handy dandy caulk guns that push it out easily – because let me tell you, caulk is not easy to get out of the tube. I ended up twisting the tube and squeezing it that way to push the caulk out.  I decided to do the tub in sections, so that it wouldn’t dry before I was ready.  I squeezed out a section of caulk, and then wiped it into the crevice with my finger, stopping as it glopped up (technical term) to wipe my finger on a sponge.  After I rinsed the excess off the sponge, I used that to clean up any mess I’d left behind.  According to the tube, you want to do this before the caulk forms a skin.

Just after squeezing out some caulk...

After wiping it with my finger (and finishing the whole thing)

Once the entire tub is finished, you have to wait 36 hours to expose it to water or moisture. So if you don’t have a second shower or bathtub, you’ll have to visit a friend’s house or suffer through being dirty for a day and a half.  But the process is worth it – whenever I go into the bathroom, I’m so happy to see how clean my tub looks!


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