How hard is it to recaulk a tub?

I spent the weekend immersed in home improvement projects* and am now feeling ambitious. How hard would it be to recaulk a shower/tub? The old caulk is icky looking, and I want to put shiny new caulk in there.

For a complete novice, how difficult will this be? Am I better off hiring it done? Any tips or recommendations would be welcome!

*In addition to some painting and wall patching, this weekend, I:
(a) held the flashlight;
(b) appropriately proffered the Philips head or flat head screwdriver when called upon; and
© (mostly) remembered to turn off the circuit ahead of time.

In my experience, it isn’t too difficult.

The key things are to strip off the old broken-down caulk, to clean, sand down, and dry the surfaces, and to use a proper caulk (i.e. something that says it’s formulated for tub caulking jobs). Apply an even consistent line of caulk and gently press it into place so that it sticks to both the tub and the surround without leaving any gap.

Note from a fellow inexperienced DIY-er: Do not put caulk in your hair. Do not put it on your arm and put your arm near your hair. If you do get it in your hair don’t just let it stay in there for a week while you walk around like an idiot with caulk in your hair.

Better yet…wear a hat.

I can do it, so it’s probably a 1 on a difficulty scale of 1-10. :smiley:

As SteveMB stated, the prep work is crucial. I use a TSP mixture to make sure that all of the old caulk residue was gone.

I also fill up the tub with water (not sure if it’s necessary or not, but I heard it once and it stayed in my brain, and I figured it couldn’t HURT the results). Plus it’s a handy way to wet my finger as I smooth the caulking out.

I press hard to get the caulking smooth and even. The last time I did it, I used painter’s tape to mask off the borders of the caulking line so that it would have nice, straight, clean edges.

It does help - The weight of the water will open up the joint between wall and tub, so when the tub is drained after the caulk has cured, the caulk will be compressed, rather than stretched every time you fill or get into the tub.

Use your wet finger to smooth the caulk before a skin forms. It will look great. Drip your finger in water. Keep the porn comments out of this.

Dude, as far as I can tell, home improvement projects are all about porn comments. Let me share with you what I heard when a light fixture was being installed:

“Don’t pull out. Don’t you dare pull out. You better stay in there until I tell you to move. Don’t pull out! Damn you, I said don’t pull out!

Of course, helpful homeowner that I am, I told her that there are better forms of contraception available. :slight_smile:

I recommend using silicone caulk if possible. It is mildew resistant for a MUCH longer period of time than latex, and it stays flexible, unlike most latex, which hardens.

To do the finger trick with silicone, however, you need to use a soapy finger, and not a wet one.

Definitely do the masking tape thing, and don’t wait too long before smoothing out the caulk…it starts to set up in just a few minutes, so if you wait it will get all icky looking instead of a nice smooth line.

To remove silicone caulk from your fingers, hands, or stray splatterings, a little mineral spirits or lacquer thinner will work wonders.

I couldn’t find an example to post, but we used a little tool we got at Home Depot that was basically just a plastic wedge to smoothe the caulk line and it worked pretty well – MUCH better than our bare fingers. I did find this tool set, though, which looks kindof cool.

Oh, and this site seems to give pretty good do-it-yourself instructions, including the recommedation to fill the tub with water.