Friday, July 18, 2014

Fresh Caulk: How to make your tub and sink look new

Be honest, do you have a shower that looks like this? Or maybe a sink? Maybe you have some missing pieces of caulk like my shower.

I'm here to tell you that you can do something about it. Really. I promise. It will take a little elbow grease, but really, only a little, and you will have a new fresh looking tub.

The first thing you'll need to do is remove the old caulk. All of it. I know, yuck. This is the toughest part, I promise. And once you get some of the caulk removed, the rest comes up pretty easily. You'll need a utility knife or a putty knife to run along behind the caulk and the tub. Then you can use the corner of a paint scraper or a 5-in-1 tool to scrape the whole bead of caulk out. It should come out pretty easily in one long strip. If your caulk is seriously moldy, I'd suggest wearing a respirator and gloves and disposing of the old stuff ASAP. 

Once you get the majority of the old caulk removed, you'll need to go back over the area with a scraper and get the rest of the little pieces scraped away. Vacuum the area so that you don't have any leftovers to ruin your pretty new caulk. After you've gotten all of the area cleaned up, you'll need to wipe the tub, sink or tile clean with bleach water or rubbing alcohol. I used rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. The key here is that you want as clean and dry of a surface as possible for your new caulk to adhere to.

Now you're ready to apply the new caulk line. Don't be scared. You can do it. Get the needed materials at your local hardware store. Depending on the area that needs to be recaulked, you may need more than one tube of caulk. Measure your space and read the tube to determine the linear footage it will cover.

You'll need:
Tub and Tile Caulk (You have a choice between clear and white) $5 
A caulk gun $2
Masking tape $4
(All prices are approximate)

I know that the pros don't even need tape, but for us DIYers, tape is our best friend. Run tape along both sides of your future caulk line. It's up to you to decide how wide your caulk line will be right now. The further apart you put your tape, the wider the line. (I know, duh!) Please, please don't worry about making the tape perfectly straight. I promise, if you do your best, it'll be just fine.

Once you get the tape set, cut open the caulk tube and put it in the gun. The nice people at the hardware store will show you how it works if you really can't figure it out. You'll need to pierce the end of the tube before any caulk will come out, but there is a little piece of metal on the gun designed just for that. Once you get it set into the gun, you're ready to run some caulk. It's going to look messy and awful. Don't despair. You'll clean it up at the end and it'll be just perfect. You will want to have a wet rag on hand though to clean up anything that hits areas that don't need caulk. :)

Here is where you actually squeeze the trigger on the gun. You'll probably have to stop at some point to release the trigger and restart. That's normal. Just one tip, unless you want caulk to keep oozing out, disengage the trigger and reengage it when you are ready to start. 

See what I mean. It looks like a hot mess right now.

To get that nice clean line, you'll use your finger. I've tried the tools that say they are made for cleaning up caulk lines and using my finger has been absolutely the nicest most even finish. Have a tissue and trash can ready to clean up your finger at the end. Get your finger a little wet and then just run it along the caulk line. You'll pull a lot of caulk up with you. That's good! 

See what I mean

Still looks pretty bad, doesn't it?

At this point, you may be doubting that this will look okay. It will. Now you will pull the tape away right away. You don't want to wait for this to dry at all. Just pull the tape away at an angle and throw it in that trash can you have ready.

You should be left with a beautiful straight line of fresh mold-free caulk! Follow the directions on the tube to see how long it needs to dry before you use the tub or shower. If you don't let it dry properly you'll get adhesion issues and then you'll be in worse shape then before.

Do you have any tips on running a clean caulk line? If so, please let us all know with a comment below.



  1. 7 Mile is awaiting to apply your newly honed DIY skills.

    1. I'd love it! Maybe some day. :-) I'm sure that it's in very capable hands right now though.