Caulking a bathroom is a DIY project that goes either really well or ends up in a mess. If you live in a home that is older or, if you’ve been in a new home for over five years, then you are going to have to recaulk a bathroom at some point. Here are the bathroom caulk guide 8 dos and don’ts to remember.
While doing caulking is one of the more common bathroom projects, it can turn into a mess if it is not approached properly. Many of us have seen bad caulking jobs that make the whole bathroom look like it has an unprofessional finish.
If you are going to tackle bathroom repair projects that include caulking, then they must be done so the work looks seamless. It is not a job that can be ignored, as caulking is a sealant that will protect bathroom walls, tiles, windows, and drywall from excess moisture and water.
Protecting the areas that may have direct water on them, such as a shower, bathtub, toilet, and sink, along with general areas affected by humidity, is important. Knowing the differences between caulk, how to avoid improper application, and encompassing the dos and don’ts of a caulking project is a must.
Important Dos and Don’ts for Caulking a Bathroom
Whether you are taking on larger projects or just a singular bathroom caulking project, you still need to do it right. Here are some of the standard dos and don’ts for when you get started. Caulking can make or break a bathroom’s clean, linear look, so follow these tips to make sure yours looks professionally done.
1. Types of Caulks
Choose the right caulk. When you are looking for caulking, there are many. It can be confusing as you head down the aisle at the local home improvement store. Make sure the label states that the caulk is for bathroom use. You need something other than a general-purpose sealant. You want a product that is water-resistant and has multiple bathroom applications. It should be a silicone caulk or latex to make sure bacteria, mold, and mildew are deterred. Silicone will offer better protection and moisture resistance, but latex is a more flexible sealant. There are combination caulks that are both, as well as being better than standard caulk. The ideal sealant will stop mold growth and water issues while being easy to apply. You can also look at:
2. Use Quality Materials
Don’t use cheap caulking tools. Make sure you have a good caulking gun or the application will be messy. Managing the flow of caulk is important, or you will have excess material that will leave a big bead of caulk. A good caulk gun will also have a strong plunger and a pressure release that stops flow fast. You don’t need a vast array of materials for caulking, but the gun is critical.
3. Cut the Nozzle at a 45° Angle and Load into Caulk Gun
Cut and install the caulking into the gun properly. The goal to clean caulking is to squeeze a bead of caulk out easily and evenly. Cutting the tube at the proper angle and making sure the width of the bead works is important. You are better to aim for under 45° if you want something smaller so you can move up. You can not put a tip back on. Make sure the tube is set well so the job goes smoothly. Read the instructions before the application of the caulk.
4. Keep it Fresh
Don’t apply new caulk over old caulk. Doing this will reduce the glue materials’ bond and you will get leaks and cracking, leading to future moisture infiltration. Rather than take the chance of the bathroom seals being exposed to moisture, remove the caulking that is already there and then apply the new coat.
5. Get Organized
Have everything ready to go before you apply the coat of caulk. Painters use tape to keep edges neat, as well as a caulking gun, caulk, and whatever else is necessary. Paper towels are a must to make sure surfaces are dry for optimal bonding. You should also fill the tub with water if that is where you are working. Doing this makes sure the tub won’t pull away with added water weight later on. Be careful that the water won’t touch the caulk and leave it in for the full drying time.
6. Use Backing Material
Don’t fill large areas with caulk alone. If a gap is more than a ¼”, then use backing material such as a caulking rod. It can fill the gap, and then the caulk can be applied. If not, the caulking will just drop into the back of the gap and there will also be no moisture resistance.
7. Use Good Technique
Apply caulk properly. You don’t need to be strong to do this. Just gently squeeze the gun until the caulk starts. Maintain even pressure so the caulk is at the tube tip. Once you have lined it up with where you want to apply, then gently increase the pressure to push the caulk out. Keep it even as you run it along the joint with sealant. You can do this from both ends of the line and meet in the middle. Once this is done, wet your finger with water and you can take off extra caulking.
8. Be Patient
Don’t use the area until the caulk is cured. Don’t touch it or paint over it. While it can feel like it dries quickly, it can still get bumped and dented until completely cured. It is important to wait at least a 24-hour dry time for it to cure. Some caulks will offer a Dry Time Indicator, which can be helpful, but you really want to abide by the 24-hour full-cure time unless the assured timing can be shorter.