How Do You Caulk a Shower or a Tub

One of the most important things a homeowner can do related to DIY plumbing and bathroom maintenance is to maintain well-caulked and sealed seams in bathroom, kitchen, laundry room – anywhere water is used frequently.

We often get questions about the best way to caulk a tub or a shower.  

Let’s do a deep dive on caulking:

Why do you caulk a shower or a tub?

Maintaining a tight water seal is very important to keep mold from growing and to keep wood from rotting over time.

Mold will grow in any humid environment, bathrooms being especially susceptible.  Even with the best ventilation systems available, it doesn’t take long for mold to begin develop in moist areas. When it does, you need to deal with it as quickly as possible. 

Unchecked mold can lead to respiratory problems and other illnesses, especially for those who are immunocompromised or who have pre-existing respiratory illnesses. 

Gaps between your bathtub or shower and the wall are the perfect place for mold to grow. Over time, old caulk wears away and the gaps grow. Moisture can work its way inside the gap over time – developing mold.

Tools needed to re-caulk a shower

Get yourself all set-up before beginning the project. Make sure you have the following items on hand:

  • A caulking gun.
  • A tube of caulk. Not all caulk is the same, so make sure you choose the right variety for your project.  Believe it or not, we are happy to help you make this decision.  We are here to help!
  • A pair of rubber work gloves.
  • A razor scraper with single-edge razor blades or a utility knife.
  • Denatured alcohol.
  • Paper towels or old linens for clean-up.
  • A cold beer (just kidding.  I wanted to see if you are paying attention)

Steps for caulking a tub or a shower

Step 1: Remove the old caulk

  1. Remove the old caulk using your razor scraper. Simply scrape using the razor, replacing the razor as necessary, until all old caulk is removed. Plastic blades are preferred, as metal can damage tubs that are made of plastic. The easiest way to scrape the old caulk is by using quick, sharp strokes with the scraper. Be careful!
  2. Remove the old caulk debris. Remove any leftover pieces using a broom or a vacuum to suck up any leftover pieces.  If you have a shop vac, this is best.
  3. Wipe everything down with denatured alcohol. This will remove any stray pieces that your other efforts have left behind.

Step 2: adding the new caulk

  1. Set-up your caulk gun. Load the caulk into the caulk gun. Cut the tip of the tube at a 45 degree angle then push the application gun through its nozzle to break the seal.
  2. Apply the new caulk. Take your time. If you are new to caulking or if you do not have a steady hand, you can use painters tape to aid you with straight lines as you apply. Hold the caulking gun at a 45 degree angle from your edging. You want to make as little mess as possible.
  3. Smooth the caulk. Caulk is initially applied as a long tube. Use a damp paper towel or rag and press it gently into the seam you’ve created with your finger. Run it along the caulk in a continuous line to create the clean look you’re going for.
  4. Remove the tape and let the caulk dry. Remove the tape before the caulk dries – so it doesn’t get stuck. Don’t touch the caulk or use your tub or shower for at least two days after application. 

Having trouble caulking your tub or shower?

Not to worry!  Our pros are excellent at caulking.  We can also do a thorough inspection to make sure there are no looming issues.  Contact Us – if you have a home or business in the Missoula, Montana area.  We’ll be happy to help!