An improper seal on your tub and faucet is not only unsightly, but can allow water to seep behind your fixtures and tile, damaging the wall, decreasing tile stability, and creating a breeding ground for mold!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Rag or paper towels
Caulk remover product**
* If applicable
Caulking should not be touched or get wet before it’s totally dry, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s suggested drying time. My experience is that it’s best to let it dry for at least 24 hours. Caulking should never be applied to a wet or even damp surface—it will never adhere properly. If the area around your faucet or sink is waterlogged, allow it to dry out. You can use a blow dryer to speed up the drying time.
While several diff erent caulking varieties exist, they can basically be broken down into two types—latex based and silicone based. Latex-based caulking is water soluble, so it can be cleaned up with water. Silicone-based caulking cannot be cleaned up with water, making it more diffi cult to work with. The upside of silicone is that it’s extremely durable. Whichever you choose, be sure to buy one that indicates it is waterproof and mildew resistant.
• Using the razor scraper, carefully scrape away the old caulking. Hold the scraper at an angle so as not to damage the tub or faucet surface (a). Score the caulk with a utility knife to break the seal if the caulk is diffi cult to remove (b).
• Make sure to scrape away all caulk and mineral-deposit residue.
• If there is considerable caulk residue that you’re having trouble removing with the razor scraper, try a caulkremover product. Wipe it on and let it soak in according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Note: If the old caulking is silicone based, this product won’t work. I recommend good, old elbow grease because the chemicals needed to break down silicone are highly toxic and nasty.)
• Wash the entire area with a disinfectant cleaner and let it dry thoroughly.
• Fill the tub with water and work in the tub barefooted so that the weight pulls the tub down and fully opens the joint. Just don’t splash around as you work.
1 Cut open the caulking tube at an angle, and pierce the seal inside the nozzle with the caulking gun’s provided piercer or the tip of a wire hanger if your gun doesn’t come with one.
2 Load the gun and push forward on the plunger of the gun until it hits the back of the tube.
3 Put the nozzle of the gun on one side of the sink or faucet and begin squeezing the trigger.
4 As the caulk fl ows out, drag the tip of the gun along the edge of the sink or faucet. Do this until one side has a continuous bead of caulking.
5 Release the plunger (so it doesn’t continue to push out caulking) and put the gun down.
6 Wet the tip of your fi nger with a few drops of baby oil. Run your finger gently over the caulking, smoothing out the bead.
7 As excess caulking accumulates on your fi nger, wipe it on a rag or paper towel and continue along the bead.
8 Repeat Steps 3–7 until all sides are complete, and then let the caulking dry thoroughly.
To purchase a copy of Norma Vally's Bathroom Fix-Ups, go to wiley.com.
© 2009 by Norma Vally. Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.