How to Caulk a Bathtub
You will need:
|When the caulk around your bathtub starts to crack or detach from the wall, you know it is time to remove it and apply a new seal. If the caulking is detached or cracked, water will infiltrate the wall behind the bathtub. If the wall behind gets wet, mold and mildew (yuk!) will start to grow and eventually the entire wall will need to be replaced (we want to avoid that!!!)
That is why it is very very very important to maintain and renew the caulking in the bathroom.
Remove the old caulk
|The first step is to remove the old caulk with a small knife. Some parts will come off easily with your hand but other parts will require that you scrape them off with the knife. Make sure that all the old seal is removed before you start cleaning. Be careful with the knife!|
Clean up the area
Once you've removed all of the old seal, clean up the entire area with a clean wet cloth until it is perfectly clean. If there is mold or mildew, remove it from the area using a cleaner formulated for that. Then, wet the cloth with alcohol and swipe it over the entire area to be sealed. This will remove any residues to ensure the caulk will bind to the wall and the tub.
I know you are impatient to start, but you MUST let the area dry completely, for approximately 1 to 2 hours.
Prepare the caulk dispenser
Cut the nozzle of the caulk dispenser at a 45° angle. This will facilitate the application of the caulk. If you are using a caulking gun, then place the cartridge inside the gun.
If this is your first time, I highly recommend you practice applying the caulk inside a cardboard box. That way you will get a better understanding of how to apply it and avoid messes in your bathtub (caulk is not fun to clean!)
Fill the tub with water
|Now, fill 3/4 of your bathtub with water. A tub will sink ever so slightly when someone is standing in it or when it is filled with water. This step is really important because you want the caulk to dry at the lowest point possible so that it won't detach easily from the tub. If you fail to do so, when someone will step inside the tub, the tub will inevitably go down a few millimetres and with repeated uses, the caulk, which dried at the highest position, will eventually detach from the bathtub.
An alternative to filling the bathtub with water is to place a few sand bags inside (if you own sandbags, I personally don't!). You can do it either way.
Applying and beading the caulk
You can now start applying the caulk a a 45° angle. Move the tube along the surface to be filled. Apply in a continuous even streak on the entire length you are sealing. Always go at an even pace and apply even pressure as you are dispensing the caulk.
With a caulk beading tool (or caulk smoother), pass over the caulk, again at a 45° angle. Stop every now and then and wipe the back of the tool on a paper towel or cloth. If you go over the entire length without stopping, the caulk will build up at the back of the tool and it will start depositing on the wall. This will be annoying to clean so I highly recommend stopping now and then to clean the tool.
Within a few minutes the caulk will become more difficult to reshape, so I recommend you smooth it out as soon as possible to the desired shape. If you try to smooth out caulk that has been sitting there for 10 minutes, it will create little unsighty bumps.
Let it dry!
Once you are done caulking, wipe off any spills or messes and leave the caulk to cure for 24 hours.
After 24 hours you may empty the bathtub! Voilà! wasn't too difficult?! :)