Learn How The Pros Caulk Around Showers And Other Fixtures
It's easy, fast and fun. Don't pay a pro, do it yourself!
Caulking a shower stall doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, if you knew how the profesionals did it, you'd be amazed at how simple and fast it actually is. Chances are, you're making the process much more difficult than it needs to be. So sit back and check out this very short tutorial on making a pro caulk line around your shower, tub or anything else!
Step 1: Clean The Surface
Using a wet cloth with a mild detegerent solution, wipe the area that you're going to be caulking. The cleaner, the better. This step alone will make a huge difference in the success of your caulking job, as any loose dirt might not let the caulking seal properly, which could actually let water and moisture in. Believe me, that's a BAD thing. So take the extra minute or two and wipe down the surface you're about to caulk. Then wipe over it with a dry cloth and let it dry for a while.
Also, if you're caulking over an old caulk, now is the time to pull the old stuff off. Before wiping the area down like I mentioned before, tear the old gunk out. It's super easy if you use a utility knife to score a corner and then start pulling. It should have the consistency of rubber or even dry glue, and will come off fairly easily with a good, firm, consistent pull. If the "string" breaks, simply rescore it and start again. Then wipe down the surface.
Step 2: Use Tape As Trim
This is the one trick most home DIY folks don't know, and it's the number one reason why the pros get such straight, perfect caulk lines.
Get a roll of masking tape and mask both sides of where you're about to caulk. The only gap between the two pieces should be the space you want the caulking compound to end up. In most instances, you only need about a half of an inch or less between the two pieces of tape, enough to include the gap between the drywall and the shower stall and a little bit on each side for the compound to stick to.
Before I learned this trick I tried caulking by eyeballing a straight line. It never worked. It'd get gooey in some spots, thin in others and it never looked even or professional. And considering a roll of masking tape only costs a dollar or two and will provide more than enough tape for your shower project, it's probably the best investment you'll ever make.
Step 3: Prep The Caulk And Gun
Cut the tip of the caulk cartridge with a utility knife, and cut it at a 45 degree angle for a better application. Then use a long nail or stiff wire to break the seal further inside the "nozzle" of the cartridge.
Put the cartridge in the gun and you're ready to rock.
Step 4: Apply Caulk
With the gun, squeeze the caulking compound into your project line. Try to use a consistent, steady hand; avoid overly thin or thick spots as much as possible. But if the stream does get uneven, don't worry about it; we'll fix it in the next step. The most important thing here is to make sure that you get the product securely in the gap between the shower and the drywall.
It's a good idea to have a damp cloth handy to wipe off any buildup on the cartridge nozzle. Believe me, silicon caulking is VERY messy and it sticks to just about everything. You will use the cloth, no matter how much experience you have!
Step 5: Smooth Out The Line
Take your finger or another damp cloth and smooth out the caulk line. Try to keep it is even as possible without and bumps or gaps in the seam. Think of this step as the "finish" step. The more attention you pay to detail here, the sharper your job is going to look.
Also, it's a good idea to look around for any stray caulk that may have gotten past the trim tape. This stuff is a lot easier to deal with while it's still wet, so don't assume you can make any clean ups later.
Step 6: Remove The Tape
Pull back your tape and: BAM! You should have an excellent, sharp and professional looking line. It will easily look much better than if you tried to manually control the caulking gun by hand.
My general theory is to treat caulk like paint. If you mask it off and spent plenty of time prepping the surface, the actual process of caulking a shower or any other surface is not only easier, but more professional looking as well.