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No More Moldy Showers: How to Caulk a Shower

How to Caulk a Shower

Cleaning your home’s well-used spaces is an easy way to stay healthy year-round, but it’s often easy to forget about the shower. Running back and forth between work, school, errands, and more can make it hard to find the time to get rid of all of that grime lurking underneath your shower’s caulk lines.

But the grime isn’t going to go away until you attack it, which is why we built a quick guide to help you remove the residue, clean the dirt away, and then recaulk your shower properly.

Recualking your shower can add new life to your bathroom.

Here’s what you need to know.

Tools Needed:

Let’s start with a few tools that you’ll want to have on hand before you go full “Operation Recaulk.” Having everything on hand ahead of the project reduces the number of times you have to run to the local big box store down to a blissful zero, and anything we can do to stay out of heavy traffic is a good thing.

How to caulk a shower: all the tools you need.

Here’s a quick list of what you need:

  • Silicone bathroom caulk (latex will also work)
  • Caulking gun
  • Utility knife
  • Painter’s tape
  • Mold cleaner
  • Other cleaning supplies as you see fit.

Everybody has a different list of cleaning supplies they like to use in the shower, so we’ll leave that up to you. The important part is that you have caulk, a caulking gun, the knife, tape, and the mold cleaner. It’s going to get grimy, but we might as well keep going.

Step One: Choose the Right Caulk

Are all caulk products created equal? Not at all. Some caulk ends up crumbling quicker over time, requiring you to come back with a better product that will seal things properly. The ideal caulk we’d recommend is a good silicone-based caulk, but hybrid products on the market are designed to give you more flexibility than just silicone alone.

Time in the house also plays a role, too, as a higher-quality product means that it’ll last longer; but if you’re moving soon, you may not want to sink as much money into this project. We advise you to use your best judgment and pick a product that doesn’t break the bank and is designed to last.

Step Two: Remove the Old Caulk

One of the hallmarks of a bad caulking job is trying to rush through the removal of the old stuff. When you don’t remove the old caulk, the new stuff doesn’t have enough surface area to attach correctly.

It’s a sealant, so you want it to be able to do the job of actually sealing the cracks and blocking out the ultimate enemy (moisture).

Step Three: Clean the Mold

This is the icky part, but mold is problematic in a bathroom. Mold spreads, causes respiratory issues, and gives a downright awful smell to a bathroom, which certainly doesn’t need any help in the dreadful smell department.

Break out your mold cleaner and make sure that you work it in. Let everything dry before you move forward so the cleaner has time to do the job.

Step Four: Use the Painter’s Tape as a Guide

Painter’s tape is one of the most versatile pieces of any toolkit, and we can use this tape to mark exactly where we want the caulk to go. The last thing you want is to get caulk all over somewhere it’s not supposed to be, so this step is an absolute must.

Step Five: Get to the Caulking

It’s time for the main event: caulking the shower. Get the caulk and make thin, slow lines with the caulking gun. While some guides suggest that you can use the caulk right from the tube, the best applications do come from using the caulking gun.

The caulking gun lets you control the flow better than just squeezing from the tube, and control is everything when it comes to a great shower re-caulking project.

Step Six: Smooth Away, Clean Up, Let Things Rest

This is the last step, but it’s pretty important: you need to smooth the caulk down. Bubbled caulk does not seal well, so using the knife to cut away any excess is important. It’s also important to let the caulk set a full 24-hours before anyone uses the shower.

This means that if you need to get a shower in, you’ll have to use another bathroom or head down to the gym for that cleaning session.

As Alton Brown says, “Your patience will be rewarded.” We agree.

Final Thoughts on Your Fresh, New Caulk Job

After the shower rests for 24 hours, you get to step back and admire your new caulk job. How long does the caulk last before you have to start over again? Generally speaking, caulk lasts roughly five years. Of course, if you see mold creeping in or cracks, you may need to replace the caulk sooner. Use your best judgment but taking your time replacing the caulk will yield great results, every time.