What Type of Caulk to Use in Shower
I’m a home improvement geek. It’s what I do. And I’ve learned through the years this one thing about keeping a home in tip top condition: We take so many of our home’s features for granted, rarely thinking about or appreciating them … until they need replacement or repair.
Caulk for your shower is one of those things so often left unappreciated. If you’re wondering what type of caulk to use in shower, it’s likely you’ve experienced some sort of leak or a cosmetic issue that comes from aging or improperly installed caulk. I feel your pain.
A shower should be a refuge, a place where you can start your day and wake up under a hot stream of water, or a place where you can relax and unwind after a long day at work or a long afternoon of mowing the yard. To make sure this refuge remains a place of relaxation, here’s a look at what type of caulk to use in shower — plus some other information on replacing and installing caulk throughout your home.
Your Caulk Options
When choosing what type of caulk to use in shower, you’ll face three main choices. Here they are in no particular order:
- Silicone or Latex: Most caulks are made of either silicone or latex. Silicone is a little more durable and will last longer, while latex is a little easier to use and clean up. You can also find new blend products that are often labeled as “latex plus silicone.” Which is better? I prefer silicone’s durability, but you may prefer the easy application of latex.
- Tube or Gun: You can apply directly using your tube or caulk, or you can choose a caulking gun that allows for bit more in the way of precision. I’ve found that caulking guns often aren’t worth the squeeze (pun intended) for small jobs like showers and tubs. If you’re doing a larger, home-wide project, a gun might be worth the investment.
- White or Clear: You’ll find caulk in two basic colors: white and clear. You can paint over white caulk to match the surrounding area. Clear caulk is just what it sounds like: You hardly notice the color. Just be careful with clear caulk as it can leave unfinished portions of a tub or shower visible through thin layers of caulk.
You don’t have to get too fancy with the type of caulk you use. As mentioned, I like a silicone option, and I also prefer white caulk — something I can use as is or something I can paint over if needed.
This Silicone Caulk from GE is a good option that dries quickly and that is ready for full use in just a matter of minutes. That is, you don’t have to let it sit overnight before the shower is ready to use. Also, I also tend toward major brands that have a track record of success, which is why you see big-time companies like GE and 3M in my recommendations.
Why Do You Need Caulk in the First Place?
Caulk can be messy and frustrating to remove and replace. When you’re in the midst of a caulking project, you may find yourself wondering why you need it in the first place. Let me assure you — caulk is essential to your home.
Think of the things you caulk as lifeboats. When you’re in a lifeboat, you don’t want any cracks or poorly sealed seams where water can get in. When you caulk a shower or bathtub, you’re preventing water from leaking out and pooling in areas seen and unseen. If water leaks out of a bathtub or shower and pools on your floor, that’s an inconvenience. But, if water leaks out of a bathtub or shower and pool somewhere you can’t see, you have a major problem. That small pool of water can grow over time and turn into a moldy water damage disaster.
You also use caulk around doors and windows. Why? Same lifeboat concept: You don’t want conditioned air seeping and you don’t want unconditioned air seeping in. Each will make your air conditioner or heater run longer and less efficiently, and you’ll notice a rise in your heating and cooling costs if aging or ineffective window and door caulking goes unaddressed.
That’s why you need caulk, messy as it may be.
How to Remove and Replace Caulk
There’s one simple trick that makes removing caulk easy: You need a caulk-removing solution — a chemical one. You can find caulk-removing solutions online or at your local hardware store. This caulk remover from 3M is one that I often order for jobs, and I’ve found that it gets the job done with ease.
When you use a caulk-removing solution, simply apply a few hours in advance of your work. The solution will begin to loosen and break down the caulk. When you go to remove the caulk, it will be far easier to pull away from the shower or tub. Use a blade to cut away the caulk at the toughest spots. Use the blade or knife to rid your tub or the biggest pieces of caulk, and then use a brush to work on the smaller portions.
But also be careful. When using a blade or a similar caulk-removing tool, you don’t want to damage the shower or tub. It’s always better to move slowly and carefully than to try and rush through the job. I use this 3-in-1 Caulk Tool from Allway, which has 3 different removal blades for different types of surfaces and different types of caulk. It helps you quickly remove caulk without damaging your tub or shower.
When it’s time to add the new caulk, use tape (special caulking tape is available) to cover the areas that you don’t want to caulk. I highly recommend this step, because it makes everything else easier. When you use a quality caulking gun and quality caulk, you’ll also enjoy easier application and better results. Once the caulk is applied, you can use a caulk tool to shape and smooth out the caulk that you’ve applied. Wait until the caulk has dried fully until you remove the tape.
How to Know When Caulk Needs Replacement
This is the easy part. First, there’s the visual test. When you begin to see your caulk wearing away from the edges of your shower or tub, that’s when to replace it. As mentioned above, you don’t want water creeping down into the cracks beneath your tub where it can grow into mold.
Second, there’s the time test. Caulk should last between 5 and 10 years. The exact amount of time will depend on your climate (higher humidity can affect caulk) and how often you use your shower or tub. For example, a guest bathroom should need re-caulking less often than your master, assuming you don’t have house guests every night.
Final Thoughts on Why Type of Caulk to Use in Shower
Your home is a precious asset, and so much of its value is tied up in things that are easy to overlook — things like shower and tub caulk. If you haven’t looked at your caulk lately, check it out to make sure it’s still in good shape. It might need attention. And, if it does, use the tips above to make sure you do a professional-quality job. This is a perfect do-it-yourself project for homeowners who aren’t always comfortable with do-it-yourself work.
Have questions about caulking a shower or tub? Share them in the comments below, and I’ll answer them ASAP. You can also use our contact page to send a direct message.
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