As homeowners, one task that we tend to put of as long as humanly possible is that of re-caulking the bathtub every few years. No matter how you spin it, this is among the least exciting jobs one can take on. But alas, fair readers, ya gots to do what ya gots to do. Bear with us through the boredom and there just might be a surprise at the end! And please keep your snickering to a minimum; I’m about to say caulk. A lot.
Here’s how our disgusting tub has looked for (seriously) six months or so, and this is after a good cleaning:
Corners are the worst. Gross. Sorry if you’re eating as you read this.
As many of you know, we’re huge advocates of having the right tool for the job. The right tool for removing old caulk is, you guessed it, a caulk removal tool. Ours came in a kit and also included the caulk smoothing tool you see in the link. It was $4. It might save you from pulling your hair out or yelling at your significant other. So yeah, It’s worth it for sure.
The use of this tool is pretty straightforward. Simply line up the two “wings” with the 90 degree corner over the caulk you’d like to peel up. The center spike is actually pretty sharp, considering it’s only plastic, so just jab it through the caulk and start a-peelin. The gnarly caulk will roll right out of the joint.
Of course Kim made me hold this slimy bit up for a photo. Then I washed my hands.
After you’ve peeled all the caulk that needs replacing (our verticals were still in great shape, so we just did the horizontals this time around), use blue painters tape to keep the cleanup to a minimum. Our overall gap between the two pieces of tape was around 1/4″.
If you don’t have a caulk gun, grab one when you get your caulk removing and smoothing kit. A cheapie is around $5, or a nice Dripless model can be had for around $10. I’d spend the extra coin personally. The last thing you want is dripping caulk. (zing.)
A steady pace is key. Too fast and you’ll have to reapply. Too slow and you’ll use too much. This is one of those things you might need to practice a bit. Maybe test your skills on a cardboard box until you’re completely comfortable.
Remember that smoothing tool we talked about? It turns out it’s pretty handy.
The smoothing tool helps to remove any excess material from your wall/tub junction.
Once you’ve worked your way around the entire tub, peel the tape while the caulk is still damp. If you end up with a bit of a harsh line from the tape edge, take another pass or two with your smoothing tool. The overall goal here is to eliminate any lips or edges where water could pool.
Here’s how your corners should look when you’re finished. I was unhappy with a section or two, so I waited for the caulk to dry completely (I find it easier to work with), then touched things up with a razor blade. In the end, that’s some nice caulk, eh?
So there ya go. Now you can caulk a tub! So, surprise!, here’s a picture of Jackson McDogg lazing around in the reverse frog dog pose. Your reward for reading up on caulk.
We hope we’ve helped motivate you to get that tub sparkling and water-tight. Has anyone else tackled this project lately, or are you putting it off as long as us? Or, maybe, you’ve got your own tutorial on a similar, boring but necessary task?