Caulking Your Tub and Shower

Caulking the connection between your shower walls and tub prevents leaks and reduces mildew buildup. Removing old caulk and recaulking joints between tiles and your tub is an annual bathroom maintenance job.

If you have tile shower walls, as the house moves (a natural process that occurs in every home), a hairline crack can occur that allows water to get into the joint. Therefore, it is a very good idea to maintain the caulk in your shower. There’s another good reason to recaulk. If you’ve tried to remove the black mildew stains from caulk, you know the blemishes are often unbudging. That’s because the stains are often behind the caulk — between the caulk and the wall.

Here is the step by step process to re-caulking your shower:

  • Remove the caulk.
    • There are products available at your local hardware store that can be applied to the caulk to facilitate the removal of the caulk.
    • After the caulk has softened (it may take a few hours), remove it with a plastic putty knife. Clean the joint with paint thinner and wipe the area dry with a clean rag.
  • Then clean the joint with this mildew cleaner:
    • Add 1 quart of liquid chlorine bleach to 3 quarts of warm water.
    • Add 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent.
    • Mix thoroughly and place in a spray bottle.
    • Spray the mixture onto the mildewed area. Let it sit until the black mildew turns white. Rinse with fresh water.

    Warning!! Although this mixture is mild, don’t forget to wear gloves and eye protection and make sure the area is well ventilated. Make sure the detergent you use is ammonia free. Mixing bleach with a solution containing ammonia can release a dangerous gas harmful to your lungs.

  • Immediately after removing any mildew, use a hair dryer or a hot air gun to thoroughly dry out the area. The joint can now be re-caulked.
    • Use a roll of blue painter’s masking tape for a professional looking job.
    • Apply the tape to either side of the joint, making straight lines.
    • Apply the caulk into the joint and smooth it with your finger, and old teaspoon, or caulking spreader.
    • Remove the tape. (Be careful not touch the caulk).
    • Let it dry.

Voila! Re-caulkign complete!