Caulk At Bathtub Edge Not Holding

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Old 02-15-20, 05:01 AM
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Caulk At Bathtub Edge Not Holding

We had a contractor put in a new tub and subway tile wall, and he initially used grout for where the tub met the bottom row of tile, but after a couple of weeks it started coming out in places, so I called and asked him to come fix it. This time, he used caulk, but that only lasted a couple of weeks too, and was starting to come out again. I called him again, and he sent someone over again, putting another thick layer of caulk right over the top of everything.

About a week later, I can see that the caulk is starting to peel away from the wall and isn't going to last. (See picture) Any suggestions or ideas why I'm having so much trouble with this particular line? The other grout lines are holding just fine. By the way, we're in a 100+ year old house.

 

Last edited by haytrain; 02-15-20 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 02-15-20, 06:31 AM
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Picture is too blurry to really see anything.

What type of calk is being used?
Is the tile and tub top being cleaned with anything before calking it?
If yes then with what?

Is it pulling away or just peeling off?
There is a possibility that the tub is moving when being used.
Fill the tub with water do the calking using a silicone calk.
Let it cure for 24 hours then empty the tub.
 
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Old 02-15-20, 06:39 AM
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I don't know anything about the problem, however, I just want to say that I would not attempt to fix this myself or you might not have a case should this have to go to court or something.
 
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Old 02-15-20, 07:23 AM
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Attaching the picture here, as the other was too blurry.

I didn't see the specific type of caulking being used, but I could ask. I also didn't see him clean it with anything. As you can see, it just looks like the caulk is pulling away from the tub and tile. It's still intact. When he first attempted it with grout, it broke up in several places, cracked, and begin to come out in chunks.

Interesting idea about the weight of the bathtub causing the problem. I could try doing that, but am I better off asking him to come out for a third fix? I hadn't thought about having to go to court or anything. I don't want to be the customer that keeps calling him to come back a bunch of times, but at the same time, the job hasn't been fixed/completed properly yet.
 
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Old 02-15-20, 07:33 AM
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New caulking is never going to stick unless all the old is removed first!
Whoever does this job should be using silicone caulking.
Unless that area is 100% dry and clean, it's not going to stuck.
I use rubbing alcohol to clean it.
Any old house I've ever worked on had under sized, over spanned floor joist, so following the suggestion about filling the tub before caulking may help.
 
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Old 02-15-20, 11:45 AM
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Do not use silicon caulk, that krap is so outdated. The newer siliconized latex caulks with microban are the only thing that should be used in a shower.

I can not even begin to count all the showers and tubs I've spent hours scraping that nasty krap off!

BTW if you get caulk that matches your caulk, it's latex!

That being said, something's not right with the joint, it's either wet, got soap scum, or old caulk that needs to be removed, cleaned, dried, then redone!

Should be a pretty easy repair!.
 
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Old 02-16-20, 02:45 AM
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Besides needing to be clean, the tile needs to be good and dry before you can successfully caulk the tile to the tub. If the shower can't go unused long enough it can be helpful to use a hair dryer to dry it out. You want to make sure there is no moisture in the cavity, not just the surface.
 
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Old 02-16-20, 08:15 AM
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You also want to fill the tub with water so the weight presses down and the gap is the largest!
 
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Old 03-12-20, 03:55 AM
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Follow-Up

Unfortunately, I'm still dealing with this problem. I followed the advice here, (cleared out all the grout, cleaned the surface with rubbing alcohol, used fans and hair dryers to completely dry the area, filled the bathtub with water while caulking), and my caulk started peeling away from the tile/tub almost immediately after it got wet. I thought maybe I did something wrong, so I asked my dad to try to fix it, and he's done this sort of project dozens of times. His results were the same, within a little bit of getting wet, the caulk started peeling away.

Is it possible I have the wrong kind of caulk, or a defective tube? I'm attaching pictures of the type of caulk I'm using, plus what it looks like now with it peeling away. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 
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Old 03-12-20, 04:25 AM
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Besides needing to be clean, the tile needs to be good and dry before you can successfully caulk the tile to the tub. If the shower can't go unused long enough it can be helpful to use a hair dryer to dry it out. You want to make sure there is no moisture in the cavity, not just the surface.
Latex caulk is sure to fail on wet surfaces since it usually wont stick to anything wet. My guess is that if it failed quickly, the substrate (cement board?) Is wet... or maybe your grout is not sealed and is letting a lot of moisture wick behind. Or if this is ONLY happening beneath a tub spout or shower valve, water may be getting behind the tile.

It's also possible that the gap is just too small. Caulk will not perform well unless the bead is a certain size (read the label). With most caulk its supposed to be 1/4" gap or it cant stretch as advertised. If it can't stretch, it cant bond to both surfaces and one side or the other will fail. It's also harder to push the caulk into a tight gap, which can leave voids of thin caulk which will fail.

Not much will stick to a wet surface... so the solution may be three part. 1) be sure after you clean the grout out that the space is dry... this isn't going to happen in 15 minutes... think days. Impatience will kill you here. Put a box fan in the tub after you remove all the caulk and move lots of air. 2). Clean off ALL the old caulk. 3) use 100% silicone. I would recommend Gorilla brand Silicone. Mask with Frog tape, (leave 1/8 of tile exposed) caulk, then spritz with a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol, tool with a finger wet with rubbing alcohol, then immediately remove the tape.

But as stated, the small gap may be what's killing you here.
 
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Old 03-12-20, 06:33 AM
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Look at the photo and discussion here about the hourglass shape of a caulk joint. This is what you want to be doing, not trying to fill the joint.
https://extremehowto.com/caulks-seal...r-application/
 
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Old 03-12-20, 07:46 AM
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Chance of the caulk being bad is so rare we can rule that out.

This would be my first choice.

https://kwiksealultra.dap.com/?gclid...QaAubDEALw_wcB

If the caulk is not sticking then something is not right with the tube/tile, or it's not being applied correctly, I have never seen caulk fall out of a joint.

Any chance there was ever any silicon grout sealer used?
 
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Old 03-16-20, 06:15 AM
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Iíve started the process of cleaning out the caulk (again) and now Iím questioning what my best option is for moving forward. Given that the gap Iím trying to fill is 1/4th inch or less, should I try grout again instead of caulk? Iím wondering if the reason the initial grout line cracked was because the tub wasnít filled with water...When should someone use caulk vs grout on this line where the tub and tile meet?

Additionally, I can push the ruler in 1.25 inches from the face of the tile before I hit the back of the wall, is that normal? (see third attached picture) Am I supposed to be filling this cavity completely with grout/caulk? I know someone recommended a foam backer rod, but given the small space in some places (less than 1/8 inch between tub & tile), I didnít think they made any backer rod that small.
 
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Old 03-16-20, 06:35 AM
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Grout will fail here. You need a flexible seal. Again, the tub will move somewhat when loaded with water and a person. Grouting is rigid or inflexible.

I am am not the guru of tub caulking but please read the article I referenced. If you fill that joint full with caulk it will not flex correctly. Hold your thumb and forefinger about 1/4Ē apart and imagine trying to put a caulk joint between them. If you put a plug or a thick blob between your two fingers, let it dry, then try to move your fingers together or separate them you will break the seal between the caulk and your fingers. But, if you put a backer rod between your fingers and then made a small bead of caulk between your fingers and let that dry. It would then flex allowing you to move your fingers slightly.

THAT is what the hourglass discussion explains.

i am done here.
 
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Old 03-16-20, 06:36 AM
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You don't want to use grout anywhere the tile changes direction or meets another substrate [tub in this case] at another direction. Caulk has a little bit of flex, grout has none.
 
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Old 03-16-20, 07:07 AM
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There is nothing, absolutely nothing unique about the caulk situation you have! But something is going on that is not clearly obvious to me why the caulk is not holding!

If it's clean, dry, and you have good caulk it should be a simple procedure.

You do not need any kind of backing rod.

Your cutting the tip off at 45 degrees, using the long side to help squeeze the caulk into the open seam?
 
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