Shower surround caulking - Caulk only lasts for a week and splits

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Old 02-13-16, 07:20 AM
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Shower surround caulking - Caulk only lasts for a week and splits

I have recently been having issues with attempting to re-caulk my shower surround. It seems that the caulk begins to split on the long wall of the surround after 1-2 weeks.

This will be the 3rd time in a month and a half that I have had to re-caulk this surround.


The last time I re caulked this, (last week) there is a rather large gap between the surround on the back wall and the tub ~ 1/2 ". So, I got some foam backer rod to assist in filling in the gap before caulking. Each time I re-caulk the surround, I leave it set for 24-36 hours.

Any assistance on how to caulk this correctly would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
 
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Old 02-13-16, 07:48 AM
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Use bathroom silicone, Clean the surfaces to be caulked with denatured alcohol. If the surround walls have any flex, that's probably why the caulk is failing.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:03 AM
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The last time I caulked it, I used mineral spirits and a razor blade to get all of the old stuff removed. Once this was done, I used alcohol to clean / prep the surface.

Currently, I have tried 2 different brands of the adhesive silicone tub & tile caulk.

The primary area (where the failure happens first) is the back or the long wall of the shower surround. In this area, there is roughly 1/2 " gap between the bottom of the surround and the top edge of the tub. In the middle part of the surround, there is also some flex there, where the surround appears to be bowed outward.

Once I installed foam backer rod in to fill in the gaps, the play on the back wall of the surround is less, but there is still some play. The caulk in this area also seems wet as though its either not curing enough, or it's flexing and water is getting in behind it.

Thoughts?
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:16 AM
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Are you saying the wall has some give? are you sure everything is good and dry before you caulk?
 
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Old 02-13-16, 09:18 AM
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Depending on the type of surround, it may not be glued or secured to the wall in the problem area, causing the problem. Or it could be that the tub is unsupported and is sinking under the weight. If either the tub or surround is flexing, thats likely the problem. A surface bead is not going to fix an inherent problem with a bad install.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 05:58 PM
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As said, the liner should not flex and you will continue to have problems.
I would consider removing all three walls and reinstalling. You can get help here on proper installation. There's some risk of trying to remove the liner, but it can't be much worse than what you have.
It sounds like the installation was so bad that the walls might come off easily.

A 1/2" gap is extreme, but let's say you want to caulk a normal gap.
If the liner/surround is acrylic you should or need to apply a silicone caulk primer. The primer acts as a deglosser and you have to be careful to apply it only where there will be a caulk bead.

I attended factory training for acrylic bath liners and the deglosser is one step that cannot be skipped.
 
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Old 02-13-16, 06:26 PM
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Everyone -

Thank you very much for all of the great advice that has been offered up.

Here is a little back story -


I bought this house back in 2009, and it was a house that someone had "flipped". That being said, I have found numerous areas throughout the house that have had less than professional workmanship. That being said, everything looked good on the surface.


As for this particular issue, I believe that the shower surround had initially been secured with adhesive, but over time (especially in the problem area), that some of the adhesive had began to come loose.


Handyone -

The information that you have provided is awesome information. One of my subsequent questions was (" am I fighting a losing battle, and better off removing the surround and starting over")

As for removing / reinstalling the surround I have a few questions:

1. For re installation of the surround, what type of adhesive should be used to secure it?

2. I am familiar with many of the different types of caulk that are out there, but I have never seen a silicone caulk primer. While this make a ton of sense, could you provide an example of a good product to use?

Thanks everyone for the great advice.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 11:54 AM
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After some further checking around, I cannot seem to find the silicone caulk primer that was previously mentioned. Is this a "professional use only" product, or is this available in any hardware store?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 12:09 PM
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Here's one source online. Not real practical for the DIY'er.

CRL Primer for Silicone Sealants
 
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Old 02-14-16, 07:49 PM
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yeah, I had found that one as well. My other thought was to use a scotch pad to scuff or degloss the surface to be caulked as well. Now that it has been mentioned, it makes complete sense that it cannot be a smooth shiny surface for the caulk to stick to.

I had also found this source as well, but from the bit of looking I have done, the big box stores dont seem to carry anything of the sort. My thought is that I am going to check the plumbing supply houses / specialty shops tomorrow.
 
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Old 02-15-16, 05:49 AM
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Plumbing supply store might be a good place to check. If nothing else, they might know of a different chemical that will serve the same purpose.
I mentioned this primer knowing it would be difficult to find but I think it's worth the effort. The primer my guys use is provided by the factory (and a can lasts forever).

I would still try to replace or reinstall the surround though, the 1/2" gap is going to be a problem no matter how well you prepare the surface.
 
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Old 02-18-16, 12:01 PM
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Brian,

Thanks for the follow-up. I was able to remove / reinstall the surround. You were correct, and the surround did come out pretty easy. I had more trouble removing the shower doors (that I installed) than removing the surround.

After some further research, and checking around I was not able to find the primer that you had mentioned. However, I did find a very good caulk for the job:

GE 10 oz. Silicone Cartridge-GE-55 - The Home Depot

I found a video demonstrating the use of this sealant on plastic. It will basically glue plastic and acrylic panels to other plastic, metal, etc.

After installing the surround and caulking, I attempted to separate a seam that I caulked with this stuff. Upon pulling on the seam, it would pull on the entire surround, and I could see the surround was pulling at the drywall. So, it appears that the surround is now in much better shape.

One other question that I do have (more of a nuisance than anything)

After I reinstalled the faucet (the trim ring is caulked to the wall, and the faucet hole with the pipe is caulked as well)

The faucet is now leaking water from the set screw hole. Any idea for the cause of this? I checked the o-rings on the faucet parts and they appeared to be OK.

Thanks for the useful advice.
 
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