Bathroom caulking is an important part of any repair or renovation in your bathroom. Moisture will penetrate your bathroom walls and cause mold, mildew and rotting and can lead to expensive damage to your house, unless you take precautions with your shower enclosure and/or bathtub. All points of moisture entry or seepage should be sealed, for example, between the tub and wall, surrounding sinks and faucets, and the area where the toilet touches the floor. Here are some tips to keep in mind while applying bathroom caulking.
1) For a smooth, clean caulk line, use masking tape each side of the seam you are caulking. Leave a gap between the two pieces of tape the size of the bead you want. Put down your bead of caulk. Use your finger to push excess caulk onto the tape. Then remove the masking tape.
2) A sharpened flathead screwdriver works good for removing old caulking if you do not have other tools. Take care not to damage the underlying surface.
3) Silicon caulk is extremely sticky and will not easily clean off your hands, so wear latex gloves when applying silicon caulk.
4) For minute gaps like those around sink faucets, use caulk from squeeze tubes, rather a cartridge.
5). For smoothing caulk, a paint stick makes a handy tool.
6). To unplug a used tube of caulk, cut off the nozzle end off of the tube so that the hole is slightly larger than the ole hole. Then screw a screw with coarse sized threads into the nozzle through the hardened caulk. Now you can use the screw to pull the hardened caulk out of the nozzle. A drywall screw will work great for this.
7). To seal your half-used caulk cartridge, put a 2 inch nail into the nozzle. Wrap up the whole nozzle in Saran Wrap® to keep the caulk in the nozzle from hardening.
8). Never use oil-based caulk around thermal-pane windows. The oils in these kinds of caulking will attack the polymer sealants on the windows, causing the window to fog up and lose it’s insulating properties.
9). Avoid the self-adhesive caulking strips sold as replacement for tube caulking around tub enclosures. They are next to useless for sealing against water seepage, and at best will protect the underlying surface against only the most benign humidity.
10). Elastomeric latex caulks require from one to three days to fully cure before painting them. Elastomeric caulks are, as their name would indicate, more elastic than paint that is laid over them. Your paint will not be able to stretch enough to avoid cracking during the caulk’s curing and resultant shrinkage.
photo by A. Godber / CreativeCommons