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Caulking a Bathtub

Updated on August 31, 2018

If you just seen the new addition to your honey-do-list, “Please caulk tub”; this would be a perfect time to use those skills of procrastination (yes it's a skill) I know you would like to drop this task to the bottom of the list because no one looks forward to caulking a tub on their day off. Don't worry,I will try to help you make this job a little less daunting.


First, choosing the type of caulk is important. One type is Acrylic the other is Silicone. Acrylic cleans up nice with just water and is easy to apply and work with, but it tends to have a shorter durable life span, and also has an inability to resist mold, even if it says it has mold resistant additive it still isn’t that great for the most part; 100% white silicone on the other hand is gooey and sticky and needs to be cleaned up with mineral spirits or something similar. It is difficult to work with but holds up for a long time once it dries, and many 100% silicone caulk brands will dry rather quickly now-a-days despite popular belief.

I suppose in the apartment maintenance business I prefer Acrylic in a “tube” for the fact maintenance personnel can get in and out and cleanup quickly, and if for some reason six months later it becomes ruined or moldy we can simply just go back again upon request. Now for home owners, if you really don’t want to caulk for at least another year or more and have good mold resistance I would opt for the white 100% Silicone, don’t accidentally purchase “clear” that’s generally for exterior windows. If this happens you will probably not want to take another trip back to the store for the right color; unless of course you need an excuse to tell your significant other why you can’t complete the job today, in that case purchase the clear. YOU DID WHAT! Anyhoo…The tube type is easier to handle compared to the cartridge style. You will need the proper cartridge squeezer “gun” thingy if you do purchase the large cartridges. I can use both rather well because I am really awesome, (sound of crickets). Here are a few choices and pictures of tubes, cartridges and caulk guns.


So what you should have is a good roll of paper towels or some old rag towels, small trash bag, a good sharp 1” or larger chisel, a utility blade, some good work gloves,and little bit of patience.


Start first with your chisel at either end of the tub. Put some work gloves on, or some form of hand protection, because if you slip there will be blood! Slowly start scraping the old caulk out without forcing the blade, let the sharp edge do the job. Forcing the blade through too hard and uncontrolled can cause the blade to bite through the tub surround and gouge it, YOU DID WHAT! That is of course if it is a plastic type tub surround, if you have tile then no need to worry. Use the utility knife to get in the corners if need be. Cut out everything the best you can, clean and dry completely.

TIP: if you have a plastic/fiberglass type of tub, you can use 200 grit sand-paper to clean up some of the old left over caulk and spruce the tub up a bit. These types of plastic tubs stain easy; and they really do not look too great after many years, fine sandpaper works great. Don’t use sandpaper on any other type of tub, Yikes!

Now when you’re ready to spread the caulk on, how you cut the tube open is somewhat important and will give you a nice even spread of caulk. So go ahead and cut your tube about halfway down from the tip at an angle, a nice clean cut with no burrs. I like to start in the corners of the tub and move towards the end of the tub, then save the middle for last. Put the tip down and squeeze it till you just start to see the caulk coming out, now slowly and non-stop drag the tube all the way to the end of the tub. Complete the whole tub like this .Don’t worry about imperfection and mistakes, just leave the mess-ups alone and clean up the mistakes when you are completely finished. There is a handy cheap tool that will make your wife/husband think you are a natural artist.

When you are ready to squish the caulk into place you can use two different handy items, one is a plastic bread clip, yes! That little square plastic clip that keeps your bread bag closed. The other is a set of small square plastic guides you can purchase at any hardware store from 3 to 25 bucks. Both are basically the shape of a square with one of the corners snipped off. Both will squish and shape the fresh caulk right into place and give you a fairly straight line.

As you push the tool down make sure it is square against the wall and when dragging go very slow and deliberate non-stop. As you’re using the “squisher thingy tools” the excess caulk will build up on your hand as you drag it, do one side of the tub clean and dry your hand and squisher thingy tool off and do the other side.

TIP: You can also put a fan aimed directly at the bathtub to cut drying time in half.
Now you’re complete! Clean up your mess let dry for

about 6 hours, or most the day if possible, and you're good to go! Some caulks have an extremely quick dry time of 2-3 hours.

Now go show your significant other how awesome you are..

What is your opinion?

What do you feel best describes most apartment maintenance Technicians?

See results

© 2011 Charles Webb-it


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    • Charles Webb-it profile imageAUTHOR

      Charles Webb-it 

      8 years ago from Edmonds,WA

      Thanks bkcreative. i love to hear other peoples viewpoints about my hubs and if it was helpful at all. thanks for taking the time to comment and thanks for the vote!!!!

    • BkCreative profile image


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I always used to get the caulking gun because I saw my father do it perfectly. Well, he was a master at everything while I truly hate loading that stupid gun - means a whole other step then I have to store the thing and how often am I going to use it...and yes, there is so much left in the tube and that is wasteful so...

      Ah, but that stuff in a tube you have listed looks good and makes sense. I've been planning to caulk around my tub for more than 2 years now. Perhaps your hubs of handy tips will inspire me to get some preventive maintenance done.

      Thanks and rated up. Yay!

    • Charles Webb-it profile imageAUTHOR

      Charles Webb-it 

      8 years ago from Edmonds,WA

      Thanks for commenting Giselle,

      Well Its always handy to have a cartridge gun in the garage.Many products are sold in cartridges nowadays like glues and grease.i guess it could be left to preference.some can handle the gun type easier and lay a nice bead of caulk.I work on a a 11 acre apartment complex with a bag of tools over my shoulder all day. so i prefer carrying a light weight tube in my tool bag.Also with the cartridges there is always a lot left over in the cartridge after the job is complete that will generally go to waste,because the tubes are so basically your paying around 6-10 bucks to caulk your tub with a cartridge when you don't need that much caulk.A small tube of caulk is usually around 2-3 bucks and you can toss it in the trash when you're done rather then let it sit in your garage for another year and get hard thinking your might use it again.Thanks again!!!

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 

      8 years ago

      My husband has the larger kind of caulk cartridges with the blue 'gun' type of dispenser. Should he switch to the easier-to-handle tube kind when they are empty? He doesn't caulk often. I think that he thinks these are the only ones available. At least, *I* thought this was the only way to buy caulk until now. He mainly caulks around windows, I think. Is that better suited to a tube-style or 'gun'-style of caulk? Sorry about all these questions. But there is so much here about caulk that is new to me, I would really appreciate any advice you have. Thanks!


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