(or “what they don’t tell you in caulking class”)
I spent a considerable time this past weekend learning a new skill – one that I think puts me on track to being a homeowner: caulking a bathtub. So I’ve come up with a list of 6 tips that should help you out, should you decide to follow in my footsteps.
1. Purchase the proper caulking gun. Here’s what it looks like:
What you do is get a tube of caulk, insert into gun and pull the trigger. This gives you really good control over where the thing squirts. I did not buy a caulk gun, instead I opted for the “self gunning” version of caulk that looks like this:
What you do here is cut a little sliver off the top, take your finger and push on the tip (like those Readi-Whip canisters) and squirt where you need it to go. The only drawback (that I can see) is that a) it doesn’t go where you want it to, and b) it also squirts off the bottom of the tip, producing a massive (and I mean MASSIVE) glob of caulk. Now if you really want the big glob of caulk, then this is the way to go.
2. Once you get it squirted in the vacinity of where you actually want it to go, use your finger to push it into all the little nooks and crannies. This worked well for me. Seriously, don’t waste your time buying a “caulk pushing into the crack” tool.
3. If you have a finger (or other caulk pushing appendage) that has a cut on it, use it. The caulk will provide a nice sealer for the cut and when it dries also becomes waterproof. Fingers, toes and elbows should work fine.
4. Once all the caulk is pushed into the cracks, the experts recommend wiping away all excess caulk. Don’t use your finger for this one. You need something a little more abrasive that will actually remove the caulk and not just thin it out. And do it before the caulk dries. Otherwise the excess caulk that you try to remove looks like real caulk that you don’t want to remove and then you’ll end up back at the beginning.
5. I also recommend not using the shower (or just-caulked) area until it dries, otherwise you’ll get a gloppy caulk area that will need to be redone, and if you’ve just spent 2 days on the bathtub, then time is of the essence, since bathing is something that people generally prefer one to do. (READ: don’t prolong the project by having to spend another day preparing the caulking surface and then another day caulking – ’cause now you’ve spent 4 days with no bath/shower instead of 2).
6. If you live in an apartment or other arrangement where the maintenance is not your responsibility, then PICK UP THE PHONE! (highly recommended)
So, those are my tips. The project went fairly well (except for the glob of caulk that I kept squirting out of the can) and the bathtub should be usable by tomorrow. I’m really glad that I did this little project, as it taught me the lesson that you need proper tools to do a job properly (like I didn’t know it already, DAD, but it is nice to reinforce that concept occasionally). And the bathtub actually looks nicer.