Submitted by MindClimber t3_10jxfl2 in DIY

So I just got my first condo. One of the little things the inspector found was that there are sections in the caulk around the bathtub where it’s curled up at the edges, enough for me to get my fingernails under. I’m assuming this is bad and needs to be repaired before I can use said shower, so that I don’t let water in through the curling.

However, there are a few factors I’m trying to figure out that I’d like some thoughts on, especially since this would be my first time doing anything like this.

First, the caulk generally runs not only around the top rim of the tub, but down the sides of both the tub and shower walls, including around a soap tray in the corner. Will I have to replace all of that?

The caulk is also an unusual color to match the grout. It would bother me aesthetically to use white, but how much trouble would you go through to find the “right” color, especially if it delays your use of the shower?

Then there’s just the usual nervousness over being a first timer, especially if I have to replace all of the caulk. I’m aware of the consequences of unknowingly not doing it right, and it’s a bit intimidating. Procedures also seem to differ slightly, depending on who’s giving the advice, especially between removal and reapplication.

At the same time, I understand that this experience would be useful to have, and would be cheaper than having a pro do it. So I’m evaluating my options, especially with my inability to use the shower until it’s resolved. Any advice appreciated.

Thanks in advance!



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KofFinland t1_j5nro8l wrote

There is no single answer.

Like others have said, caulk (silicone) is available with many colours. It is available from same stores that sell tiles and grout (and other stuff for building the shower room from scratch).

In a normal bathroom, the stuff (grout) between tiles is porous and let's water flow through it. It is not for sealing at all. Usually the caulk (silicone) is used on "moving seams" where grout would crack. This is seals between walls, between walls and floor etc.. Most times, caulk is not sealing anything. Water has path around it via the porous grout. Depends on place what the purpose of the caulk is. Most times there is polymer "water insulation" layer UNDER the tiles/grout/caulk in shower rooms, ending up to sever hole. This polymer water insulation has been added before the tiles to floor and walls (it is fiber enforced polymer stuff that solidifies into flexy rubberlike plate). Caulk is in this case for visual esthetics and mechanically protecting the actual water insulation layer.

I have built my shower room and sauna myself for my latest house, so I have practical experience. The best way for caulking has been to put painters tape next to the seam on both sides (leave a few mm from edge of tile), put the caulk in place with the tool (pushing it out from the tubular container), and use a silicone tool to form the caulk seam (the silicone tool has several radiuses - and remember to put water or soap water on the tool - you could use finger instead of tool, but tool is cheap and you have always same radius with tool). Then remove the painters tape (don't wait for silicone to harden, you have to remove tape after applying silicone) and you have a perfect seam with no smears.

I know pros do it without the tape, but I have made the best seams with the tape. It looks always perfect like that with no smears.

Try it out first somewhere else. If nothing else, take a cardboard box and make seams to the inside corners to try!


mynaneisjustguy t1_j5p9647 wrote

Negative to the tape is the edges of your seam have a lip. It will be shallow but it IS there.


barbarian818 t1_j5n9wch wrote

Mechanically speaking, you only need to replace the sections that have failed.

But aesthetically you may be better off replacing all of it. But from the description, it sounds like you only really need to replace the bead running around the perimeter of the tub.

There's really not that many possible colors for caulking. Transparent, white and almond are the most common. But other colors do exist. Colors do shift as the caulk ages and gets bleached by cleaning chemicals, so you will not be able to perfectly match the colors.

But getting at least close in color should be good enough.

My advice about installation is

  1. Cut away all the failed caulk, don't caulk over failing caulking

  2. Use a plastic caulk scraping tool to make sure all caulk has been removed.

  3. make sure the tub surface and surround surface is very clean and dry.

  4. use your finger to smooth over where the new caulk joins the good caulk. You want to make sure there is no gap there.

  5. remember: you can't ruin it with a bad caulk job. At worst, you have to scrape clean and try again.


khartster t1_j5n8qg6 wrote

They sell multiple colors of sanded caulking to match grout lines. Check in tile area of big box store or a tile store.

Its gonna suck the first time. Do it once but dont worry if its not perfect. You'll have plenty of time to redo it.


ObiDan71 t1_j5n9erj wrote

Remove it all and re-caulk or you'll be chasing the issue for years to come.

The one trick that contractors do is to fill the tub before caulking around the tub.

The weight drops the tub. Otherwise, the caulk will separate from the tub later in when you fill the tub for a soak.


69Dankdaddy69 t1_j5n9yuh wrote

Colour matching shouldnt be a huge issue. Plenty of suppliers have tons of colours and most retailers can order in the colours you need.

You will not be able to match caulk colours perfectly. They vary batch to batch even if you get the same colour from the same supplier. Existing caulk might also discolour over time and not match new caulk. However, if there are no direct joins, you should get away with doing one separated section, such as around the lip of the tub, in a replacement colour without doing everything else.

As for waterproofing, caulk in bathrooms should basically be a first line of defence. Grout and most tiles are porous and water will get through them. The bulk of the waterproofing should be a membrane under the tiling.

If its just the ends of your caulk that are tipping up, id personally just try sticking them back down again with some glue or whatever. Removing caulk can be easy or very painful, depends on access, thickness, etc.

Putting down a nice bead is also sometimes very easy and sometimes very difficult. If your surfaces meet, then it will be quite easy, but if youre filling in a 10mm gap with caulk, you will have a very shit time.

The easiest process ive found is to have some paper towels or rags ready, lay the bead, spray the area with soapy water, spray your finger with soapy water, and then shape the bead with your finger. Clean the excess onto a rag, and continue. If you dont use soapy water, you will have a shit time cleaning up. A very shit time.

Tldr this is not a big problem and you can choose to leave it or repair it for cosmetic purposes, the real waterproofing should be under the tiles.


alabasterwilliams t1_j5njxlp wrote

First step is cleaning the grout. It’s likely a lighter color than what you’re seeing, unless you purchased a brand new condo.

And then, follow the rest of the advice. I like to use a wet finger to smooth the caulk, spending money on a tool is unnecessary.


danauns t1_j5om01z wrote - watch this please.

This is the definitive guide. He's uploaded a couple of follow ups to this one, but start here.

This is the state of the art, nobody has done it better. Anyone still smearing their fingers, or using tape or soapy water ......simply put, is doing it wrong.