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How do I Caulk a Tub?

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  • Written By: Chad J. Smith
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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While some home improvement jobs are better left to the experts, learning to caulk a tub or sink is an easy do-it-yourself project that can save you a lot of money in the long run. The process of caulking a tub is just a matter of cleaning the surface, buying the right products, and then using a few easy techniques to get the job done.

When you are ready to caulk a tub, you will need to pick up a few things from the hardware store. For beginners, acrylic latex caulks are recommended for bathroom sealing, because they are east to work with and to clean up. They come in a variety of colors to match your bathroom tile or paint, and they don’t have as strong an odor as silicone caulks. Be sure to buy a caulk made for tubs and sinks or bathrooms and kitchens.

The first thing you must do to caulk a tub is remove all the old caulk. You have to start with a fresh, clean surface so the new caulk can adhere properly and provide the best barrier against water. A painter’s tool, a razor scraper, or any type of scraping tool that does the job and doesn’t damage the surface will do. Be sure to get all of the old caulk, including the residue and any dust. Then make sure the area between the tub and wall are dry before trying to apply the new caulk.

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Painter’s tape, which doesn’t damage the paint on the wall and comes off clean, and your caulking gun will be needed for the next step. Tape off the area you want to caulk to protect the walls and tub, so you don’t get caulk where you don’t want it. Trim the nozzle of your caulk tube at a 45° angle and so the resulting hole is just big enough to fill the joint where the caulk will go. With smooth, even pressure on the gun, put down a path of caulk along the seam; try to keep your gun moving at a smooth pace so your caulk is uniform along the joint.

Next, smooth the joint by using a damp paper towel or rag to press along the caulk you just put down. You want to press the caulk into the joint and smooth the surface all at once. Do your best to make the joint is as uniform and smooth as possible. You can even try a small plastic tool with a curved edge to help you with this process, but many people will just use their finger and a little water to do this with greater control. Carefully take off the tape and wipe off any smudges you may have made. Wait at least 24 hours after you caulk a tub or sink before using it so the caulk has enough time to dry and harden.

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