Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to re-caulk your shower or tub

There really are only three times when you should use caulk in a shower. Where shower doors attach to the wall and floor, where a solid surface meets the shower pan, or when you are going to sell your house and you do not want to keep up on the grouting. Especially in Chicago, when the temperature and humidity fluxuate throughout the year, your house WILL move. If you have tile in your shower... one of the spots where it shows is where the tile meets the floor. It is tempting to just hit that sucker with caulk, and call it a day when those cracks appear... but once you caulk it... it will move at that spot. And water WILL get behind the caulk. The best solution is to keep some grout on hand in a tupperware container. Take a screwdriver and carefully loosen and remove any grout that has cracked and let go. Mix a handful of grout and spread it with your finger and wipe it clean with a slightly damp tshirt. Waterproof and beautiful in 24 hours! YES you have to do it every year or two... but I will walk you through the alternative... RECAULKING.

Caulk does not stick to caulk. Never has, never will. ESPECIALLY not silicone. ONLY put 100% silicone in the shower. No additives, no paintability, and not even the stuff at the big box store that says bath and shower. Read the label!

Next get all the old caulk out. ALL OF IT. This job sucks. Its you, a screwdriver, a razor blade, some tunes, and at least 2 hours.

Take your time... and many breaks too! Go outside every 20 minutes... 'cause this job sucks... Carefully scrape at the caulk at an angle where the old caulk comes free, and you dont scratch the wall or the base.

On this job, there was 3 additional layers of different types of caulking over the years. The walls are solid surface (think Corian) and the shower pan is fiberglass. The original layer was 100% siliconce done professionally. Next was a product similar to this one... which has NO silicone... Its grout glue. Next layer was a silicone with mold additive... notice the mold. It took about two hours, but its clean.

Next with a bunch of papertowels... clean the area with acetone. Then clean it again. Acetone works on everything except some plastics. Test a small area... and if the papertowel sticks... DON'T use acetone... use mineral spirits.

Now we are ready. Even for a novice... this will take only a few minutes. Its all about the tools here. Get some silicone spray. Got to get it online cause its a professional secret. So if you have been doing this as you are reading, this next step will take 7 to 10 business days for shipping... Get a garden hose, hula hoop and a kiddy pool and you can bathe in the basement while you wait for the spray to arrive (pictures of this forthcoming.)

This is the stuff I use, Caulk-EZ, and it looks like LOWES might have a similar product by GE, although I have never tried this stuff. This spray is what makes the shaping tool work. Mine is a smaller one made for doing marble countertops, and I can't find where to get a similar one.

Guess you have to be a contractor for 20 years to get that bad dog!

Moving on... With LOTS of papertowels handy, spread on a bead of caulk. Make sure it is not too heavy... you won't need a lot. Do one wall at a time.

Next spray the caulk tooling spray over the caulk, but not too much so it runs.

Next run the tool over the corner to get the best look you are going for... the less the better. If you took off too much, just add some more on top and do it again. You have about 2 minutes of workability before it starts to set up.

Let it dry for at least 24 hours... and you are good!

Call for a free estimate to have your caulk re-done if you live in Mokena, Lisle, Lemont or in the Chicago area. Call 708-479-4570 or visit for more information!

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