Angie's List: How To Caulk Your Shower

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There's no expiration date on caulk, but when it begins to peel and turn different colors around your bathtub or shower, you'll know it's time. Luckily, caulking requires just a few tools and materials, making it an easy DIY project for handy homeowners of every skill level.
Time: 2 HoursDifficulty: Medium
Tools & Materials:
Caulk scraper
Chemical caulk dissolver
Caulk for bathtubs and showers
Utility knife
Antibacterial dish soap & sponge
Painter's tape
Caulk gun
Paper towels
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Remove Old Caulk
If you decide to use a chemical solvent (optional), apply the chemical and wait as long as the instructions recommend. This might require a few extra hours before scraping. If you don't want to use chemicals, cut a line through the center of the caulk with your utility knife. Scrape away the rest. Take care not to scratch up your tub or shower wall.
  • how to caulk your shower, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, how to
Clean Surface and Let Dry
Make sure the edge where you will caulk is clean and smooth. Scrub any mold or mildew with antibacterial dish soap. Wait until it dries to continue, or else the caulk will have trouble adhering.
*To speed drying time, set up a fan or follow along the edge with a hair dryer.
  • how to caulk your shower, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, how to
Tape Edges
When the tub and wall have dried, tape along the edges of both. This ensures the caulk line looks uniform and makes less of a mess.
Keep the tape on the tub about one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch away from the wall and the same distance up the surface of the wall. If you have a tile shower with a gap between the tile and the tub, measure from the bottom of the tile, not the tub. Also, tape beyond any ridges on the tub you can't scrape off to hide them.
  • how to caulk your shower, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, how to
Apply Caulk and Smooth
Cut open the tube of caulk (usually a silicone caulk labeled kitchen and bathroom) with your utility knife, being careful not to cut the hole too wide. Run a bead of caulk between the tape. Smooth the caulk with your finger. Wipe your hands and any excess caulk with a wet paper towel.
*If the caulk is too thin, it won't fill the gap. If it's too thick, it will make a mess. If you're unsure, do a small stretch, smooth it down with your forefinger and see if it covers from tape to tape.
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Remove Tape and Let Dry
Starting at one end, peel the tape from the tub. Do the same with the wall. After pulling off the tape, you might notice edges where the caulk doesn't sit on the tub's surface. Without disturbing the bulk, smooth down the edge with your finger.
*Fresh caulk needs to cure for at least 24 hours, but check for your product for specific directions.
--by James Figy, Angie's List

Suggested materials for this project:

    • Bonnie witlam
      Bonnie witlam Lusby, MD
      on Nov 13, 2015

      Really great idea to use the tape! I've caulked a lot and the finished look was sometimes, how do I say this, less than professional! Inspired to redo the shower this weekend! Thanks!!

        • Angie's List
          Angie's List Indianapolis, IN
          on Nov 13, 2015

          @Bonnie witlam You're right. The tape helps give it that professional look. Let us know if you try it again some time. Thanks, Bonnie!

        • Connie Mar
          Connie Mar United States
          on Nov 15, 2015

          This makes it look so easy! We just finished re-caulking our tub and it took quite a few attempts to scrape off all the old caulk. There was a mix of grout and caulk in some places, too, or caulk on the grout. Used denatured alcohol to soften, but still took a lot of elbow grease and time. Maybe now that we have a clean surface underneath it will be easier next time?