With so many home maintenance tasks that "should" be done, it's inevitable that a few go by the wayside for a bit longer than is ideal. Sometimes this results in nothing more than an area of your home that's dirtier than you'd like for longer than you'd like (hello, pocket escapees and pet fur between the couch cushions). Other times, however, neglecting even a seemingly minor home maintenance task can cause dangerous conditions or costly repairs.
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This weekend we're going to tackle one of those home maintenance tasks that's so much easier to do than it is to deal with the consequences of putting it off.
This Weekend's Assignment:
Re-caulk your tub or shower.
If you live too long with cracked caulking, water seeps in between the wall and the tub, which can lead to mold damage and rotting of the wood in the walls — which in turn necessitates tearing out the whole tub and shower to replace the wood.
Here's how to prevent this expensive mistake with a water-tight seal of new caulking:
Step 1: Gather your supplies
- Mold-resistant caulking specifically labeled for "kitchen or bathroom use"
- A high-quality caulk gun that "has a sturdier plunger mechanism to provide a smooth, even flow and a pressure release to stop the flow quickly." According to Family Handyman, this higher quality gun may cost more, but it's worth it for a nicely done job. We agree.
- A utility knife and razor blade
- Caulk remover
- Rubbing alcohol
- Masking tape to ensure a uniform bead of caulk
- Rags and/or paper towels
- Mineral spirits if you're using silicone rather than latex caulking
Step 2: Remove the old caulk
Don't skip this step. Remove old caulk by slicing it with your utility knife and scraping it away from the gap. You can also use a caulk remover to soften stubborn caulking and scrape away with a razor blade.
The DIY Network offers this handy tip: "When you are working to re-caulk a bathtub, fill the basin itself with water. The water helps to weight the tub and expand gaps."
Step 3: Clean moldy grout and prepare caulking area
Mold that's in the grout above the caulk line will easily spread to your new caulking. Prevent this by using a mold removing product on grout, especially grout adjacent to your caulking.
Once you've cleaned the area surrounding the gap, it's a good idea to clean the gap area with some rubbing alcohol. This will ensure a the caulking adheres without any interference.
Step 4: Mask your working area
If you're a pro at caulking, you can skip this step, but taking the time to line the gap between the wall and the shower floor or the top of the tub will ensure you get a nice, even line of caulking. Line both the horizontal and vertical surfaces that you will re-caulk.
Step 5: Add your caulking
Now you're finally ready to use your caulking gun. Especially if you've masked off your gap, there's nothing to fear. Hold the gun at a 20-degree angle (pointed almost straight on to the wall, but slightly pointed down), and 90 degrees from the gap, as pictured here.
Shape the caulk bead with your index finger (no need for shaping tools). Fill in any spots you missed and blend in the caulk with your index finger. Remove the tape while the caulking is still wet.
Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we've sent you, or tackle another project you've been meaning to get to. It's also completely okay to skip a weekend if you're busy or not feeling the assignment.