Guest Author - Dale Y the Maintenance Guy
Talk of caulk, and you are talking about one of the most common bathroom maintenance projects there is. It seems easy enough on the surface, but unfortunately, badly done do-it-yourself caulking jobs can lead to severe water damage and thousands of dollars worth of wall and tile repair. Now donít be frightened, there are some very easy things to keep in mind when caulking. The preparation, the types, the application, and the finish. If you follow these simple steps, you will be able to caulk like a pro, and have it look a million bucks!
The prep: Around bathtubs, sink basins and toilets, the area to be caulked needs to be clean and dry. Clean means scrape out any old existing caulk, lightly sponge off the area and allow it to dry. Completely dry, bone dry, Sahara desert dry!! Get the picture?? ANY remaining moisture will not allow the new caulk to adhere to the surface fully, this will cause a gap and moisture will leak through. Moisture that leaks through now is big trouble in a few years time.
The types: There are 3 basic types of caulk, silicon, latex, and a mix. A silicone caulk has the highest durability of anything, but that does not necessarily mean it is right for every job. Latex caulks are pretty durable in their own right, but their biggest advantage is ease of application. Not that Silicone caulks arenít easy, but finishing the surface with a latex based caulk beats silicone, hands down.
Silicone caulk will claim that it lasts for 50 years, and while that may be true in a lab, a bathtub is a different story. Constant moisture, soaps, abrasive surfaces, bathroom cleaners, anything that comes in repeated contact with caulk will eventually wear it or pull it away from a perfect seal, and that even includes a settling house. Which means the reality is, expect to re-caulk every 5 to 7 years no matter what you use. With that information, I prefer latex caulk. It is easier to work with, will last as long as anything else in the real world, and you can find it in a variety of matching colors.
The application: Caulk either comes in preloaded tubes for guns, or plastic squeeze bottles. Either one works well, just cut the end off of either tube, then moving slowly along the seam, squirt the caulk inside leaving a rounded bead protruding outwards. Do the entire seam and be as even as possible.
The finish: Dip the tip of your finger in a small bowl of water and gently smooth over the top of the bead, or, as they say, walk the caulk, about 5 inches at a time. Your finger will slide over the top, and you can push it into deeper crevices and completely smooth the bead down forming a nice flattened professional looking finish. Use a dry sponge to soak up excess moisture and square off the edges.
Allow to dry for 24 hours, pat yourself on the back, and talk the talk because now you can walk the caulk!