When you look at the edge of your shower or bathtub, the base of your toilet, and around your sinks, the rubbery sealant you see is called “caulk”. This material is used to keep water and general moisture from damaging your walls and floors by forming a waterproof seal. Once applied caulk literally glues itself in place as it dries. However, as good as this product is today, it will eventually become discolored and deteriorate. When this happens, your walls and floors are vulnerable to damage from moisture and mold.
Getting Rid of the Old Caulk
Despite the fact your old caulk may be falling apart, the hardest part of replacing it, is removing it. Unless you completely remove the old stuff, the new caulk you are replacing it with will not stick. As with many things, the best results come from the right preparation. Once upon a time, you had to remove the old caulk using a razor scraper designed for the job.
Today, you will find there are several chemical caulk removers available. Once you have used one of these to remove the bulk of the old caulk, you can clean up any residue using nothing more than a putty knife. Finally, wipe the area down with paint thinner and allow it to dry fully before laying down beads of new caulk.
Installing the New Caulk
This is the part that most people dread. Especially when you have seen the beautiful “perfect” beads of caulk that were originally done by the contractor. Two things to think of before you become over-stressed. One, laying down perfect beads takes practice and two caulk is relatively inexpensive. So even if you do mess up, you can clean it all out and start again.
Before you get started, make sure you have a good quality trigger-type caulk gun (don’t rush out and buy a power caulk gun as these take a lot of practice and make big messes) and of course enough tubes to get the job done. I recommend you buy a couple of extras to practice with and in case you mess up the first time.
Cut a diagonal section off the tip of the gun leaving a diagonal opening that will lay the size of bead you need. Using a piece of cardboard, try laying down a few practice beads. The trick is to move the gun away from the caulk as you gently pull the trigger. You need to work the trigger to ensure the caulk comes out at a steady speed that matches the speed at which you are moving the gun.
Making It Pretty
The trick is to ensure you make the entire length of the run in one pass if at all possible. If your beads are not perfect, there are tools available at your local discount hardware stores. These tools have several different shaped ends that you can use to shape the final bead. These are used while the caulk is still very soft and are simply drug along the bead to remove any excess and create a perfect finish. Any excess or splatter can be removed with a damp rag before the caulk dries.
Although replacing old caulking with a beautiful bead of new caulking may seem to be very challenging. But in reality, all it takes is a little time, practice, and of course patience and you will soon be able to lay down beads of caulking like a pro.