Updated Oct 17, 2022
Updated Oct 17, 2022
An unsung hero of bath construction, the caulk in your tub or shower provides an important barrier against water damage in your home. If allowed to seep behind waterproof finish materials like acrylic, tile, or enameled steel, water can reach the wood framing and subfloor materials in your bathroom, leading to rot, mold growth, and even damage to finish materials in adjacent rooms.
Keeping a reliable seal on the seams of your bathtub or shower enclosure with appropriate caulk is a simple but essential maintenance task.
Caulking a shower is a manageable project for most homeowners, but the job could put your shower out of service for more than a day. Be sure to plan ahead to allow adequate time for preparation, application, and drying or curing.
Also, choose your caulking products carefully. Select caulk designed for use in wet environments that will inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. These products can be found in stores and home centers, are typically labeled for use in the kitchen and bath, and are generally available off the shelf in just a few colors: clear, white, and almond.
Finally, consider whether you’d prefer to work with silicone or latex caulk. Silicone is preferred by pros, as it lasts longer and remains more flexible and effective over its lifetime than latex. However, latex is easier to handle and clean up—a good option for caulking amateurs. In either case, a standard tube of caulk provides more than enough product to seal a typical shower. Practice your application technique on a sheet of cardboard or other scrap material before getting to work.
While caulking a shower is a relatively simple project, keeping a few factors in mind can help you pull the job off flawlessly.
Though not the most glamorous step of most home improvement projects, preparation is often the most important step. Caulking a shower is no exception. In order for new caulk to adhere properly and provide protection from water infiltration, the application site must be completely clean and dry. That means all existing caulk, along with any residue, mold, or other gunk must be cleaned from the tub or shower surface. This can be a tedious process and will likely take much longer than the application of new caulk.
Applying caulk is a simple process but getting a crisp, clean line takes a bit of finesse. Even the pros swear by different methods, so take the time to get familiar with the tools and products involved to determine what works for you.
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