Re-Caulking the Bathtub for $15 & Lessons Learned for the First Timer


I have to admit, as I have been taking down Halloween decorations, I have been chomping at the bit to start Christmas decorations. I’m blaming it on the new house feeling and it being our first Christmas here. To distract myself though, and come back to Earth that we’re still weeks away from even Thanksgiving, I jumped into re-caulking the bathroom tub.  I warn you, the following pictures are graphic.  They feature crumbling caulk, 1950s color bathroom tile, and a floor begging to be redone.  This bathroom will most certainly be the feature of many posts to come of quick updates you can do if you can’t gut a bathroom entirely.

I digress.

Caulking is super easy (with a little bit of practice) and cheap way to make a big difference in the bathroom.  Removing the crusty, moldy old caulk and replacing with a fresh white strip is hugely satisfying.  Other than just for looks, it is important in a bathroom to seal up holes to prevent water damage beneath the surface.  No one wants to rip up floors and find a nasty moldy mess where water has crept through for years.

Enter in the weapons. Here is the caulk gun and caulk I used. Since it is in a bathroom, I chose a  white waterproof silicone.  Note that there are many different types of caulks and silicones, this would NOT be the kind to use if you were adding trim to a room, for example, since this cannot be painted over. Here is also the tool pack below, one piece for removing and one piece for creating a smooth line (more on this below).

Total cost of the tools below?

$15.71, and the toolpack is really optional.  You can surely use razor blades, screw drivers, and other items you already have bringing it down to

$10.74 for a clean, fresh bathroom update


Removing the old caulk

As a first time caulker, this step was about as difficult as I expected.  It took some fiddling and I ended up bringing in a razor blade to help.  What I found to work was slicing the caulk every 6 inches or so along the tub to allow me to get an edge under and try to pull it up. Using the tool from the pack (shown above) I wedged the piece in to help loosen. For $5 for the two pieces, this was entirely worth it. It had many different edges I could use from all different angles to pull the caulk out.


It was super satisfying when long strips pulled out together. In total this process of removing all the old caulk along the tub took about a half hour.  Once I cleaned all the little pieces I took a damp cloth to wipe along the edge and make sure there were no small pieces of dirt and grime and the surface was as clean and dry as it could be for the new caulk to adhere to.


Prepping for new caulk

Ahh, the old caulk is out.  I sat back for a bit and admired my hard work. Not for long though, time for taping! No cost incurred here since we already had the painters tape. I lined the floor and the side of the tub to edge where the caulk will go.  Caulk is pretty forgiving as long as you are fairly quick. I played a few times with the caulk gun getting a feel for how fast it comes out and how hard I have to pull the trigger. It does not shoot out fast, in fact it went slower than I expected which is good to prevent mistakes!


Here come the lessons learned as the first time caulker to share with all of you who haven’t done this before either.  Honestly, I’m almost ashamed to admit I didn’t think to pull the tape up right after I caulked and before it dried.   When you pull the tape up after, the caulk doesn’t stick to the tape, the tape just comes out from under it.  So any overflow stayed on the tub and floor.  I tried correcting this by taking the razor blade and running a straight line down but it didn’t work well.  Here is the first after picture. #caulkfail


As you can see, way too jagged.  Where is my pretty caulk line!? Needless to say, I ripped it up again.  Another lesson learned? New caulk doesn’t come up nearly as easily as chipping old caulk. I retaped and tried again.  Another key difference this time was I used my finger instead of the caulk edger to create a flat edge. My mom visited yesterday and made the suggestion (thanks mom who is reading this). To help your finger glide over, fill a small glass of water and dip your finger to just be slightly damp then run it right over the wet caulk. Although I didn’t have a problem with the edger from the pack at all, my finger was easier and more precise.   Plus, the gap between the tile and tub was a bit larger than the tool but the perfect size for my finger so it covered it just right.

Caulk attempt #2


Well would you look at perfect straight line.  It really sings to me. A before and after to really show the difference in removing the tape while wet:


Caulking Lessons Learned

Fingers work just as well or better than a tool you buy (save yourself a few bucks!)

New caulk does not remove as easily as old, dried up caulk

Always ALWAYS pull your tape up when the caulk is wet


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