How to re-caulk a bathroom

Re-caulking the bathtub, sink, and shower is a fast and convenient way to repair broken or cracked seals while also avoiding mold and water damage.


Although bathroom caulking renders a tub, sink, and shower impervious to water for several years, it is not permanent. Caulking can wear, crack, discolor, and shrink over time, which can lead to water damage. Maintain bathroom fixtures to prevent mildew, mold, and water damage. A fresh bead of caulk can also refresh the look of your space.



Check the caulk in your bathroom. The key spots to check are areas that are regularly wet, such as the corners and base of a freestanding shower and the end of a bathtub where a showerhead hits. Depending on the condition of the caulk, you may be able to free it easily with the help of a putty knife. A razor blade is also helpful, as you can use it to scrape the old caulk completely from the tile. A caulk softener can speed the process.

Work slowly and carefully. The surface of the tile is durable, but the old caulk needs to be removed completely from the tile surface. While some caulk spots may be in better condition than others, do your best to remove it all along each affected length. This way you aren’t forcing the old caulk to marry the new caulk, it won’t always work.



Remove excess caulk debris with a small vacuum. Using rubbing alcohol, dampen a paper towel. Clean the residue off the surface of the tiles where you’ll need to re-apply caulk with the alcohol. This move ensures a tight bond between the new caulk and the freshly washed tile.



Trim the caulk tube’s edge with a utility knife and puncture the foil sealing the tube with a long thin nail. To trigger the tube and release the caulk or silicone, use a caulking gun.

Drag the gun’s tip in a single swift motion that corresponds to the pace at which the caulk emerges. It’s still fixable if excess caulk occurs in some areas rather than others, even if some areas just have a thin line of caulk. Working slowly will help you get the hang of it.

After each length, wipe the caulk tube’s tip clean. Work your way around the circumference of the bathtub and shower, re-caulking all of the edges.



Dip your finger in water and run it down the caulk line to smooth out any extra globs of caulk and build even lines. When you clean each length of still-wet caulk, extra caulk is effectively pushed into the open gap between tiles or between the bathtub and its surround. If you use a paper towel to cover your finger, make sure you refold it several times to prevent transferring excess caulk to the tile’s face. If you’re just using your finger, make sure to clean it and re-wet it on a regular basis.

You can be able to wipe excess caulk from another part of the same seam if you come across a gap where not enough caulk was applied. If not, use the caulking gun to add a new fine bead of caulk and immediately smooth it out with a wet paper towel so that it blends in with the rest of the new caulk. Most silicones and caulks have a fast set time. If caulk dries on neighboring tiles, score the edge of the caulk close to the initial bead with a razor blade, then scrape it away from the tile face without disrupting the waterproofing seal.

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