Re-doing the grout around my tub/shower - help?!

We have your standard bathtub / shower set-up. The previous owners of this house used some kind of lino instead of tiles to cover the walls above the tub. Not ideal but it seems to work fine.

The issue is the grout (caulking?) that makes a seal between the bottom of the lino/tiling and the top edge of the bathtub. The lino seems to be slightly curving, away from the wall, and the seal of the grout is broken.

We tried re-caulking it a little while ago, using the appropriate bathroom stuff, but the fact that the lino is curling up a bit makes it hard to get a good seal.

Any ideas? We didn’t remove the old caulking before we re-did it, so I’m assuming that’s a big part of the problem.

a) how do I remove the old silicone/caulking stuff?
b) what is the best method and product to replace the caulking and create a new, watertight seal?
c) I think at Home Depot I have seen a kind of white “tape” for this purpose - has anyone tried it?

Any help is appreciated!!!


Well, first I’d like to say that caulk is different than grout. Grout is used between ceramic tiles. Grout is itself a morter.

What you seem to be refering to is caulk seperating itself away from the wall and linoleum. Believe me, I’ve had that problem. The thing to do is to scrape away all the old caulking material, and then re apply new. New caulk will almost never stick to old caulk, thats why you have to start anew.

My experience says to not scrimp on the prep work.

The old stuff should be scraped away as much as possible (all of it, ideally) and the site should be very clean and dry for the new caulk. Any bits of old caulk, soap residue, old mildew, or deposits from water will allow peeling and mildew to return. I use a scraper for the big work, a razor knife for the fine work, a 10% bleach wash, and a thorough drying before reapplication. I prefer to use a wetted finger and sometimes a wet sponge for the smoothing of the new caulk and I try to make sure the new stuff exceeds the old stuff’s margin by a tiny fraction.

It may seem tedious, but doing a good job now will prevent you having to repeat the job in a year or two.

Thanks - you’re right, it is the caulking. :smack:

Any hints/tips on removing the old stuff? Should I try to scrape it off, or is there a product or tool I can use to get rid of it?


Sorry- about the tape- I have never used it and probably would not use it if I saw it in the store. I have used a red tube labeled “bathroom tub and tile caulk” and have been very happy with the results.

Damn - simulpost! I was answering Moonlight.

Thanks Ca7399 - my man’s out of town for a few days and this is one of those tedious jobs we’ve been putting off for WAY too long - so I’d like to surprise him by having it all done when he gets home.

I’ll get to Home Depot tomorrow and grab some supplies … boy, I have a fun life!



This is a great little job (DH says a “girl job” :rolleyes: )- not to many complicated parts and a quick and noticable improvement. You can do it!

My favorite tool for caulk removal isn’t found at Depot. Go to a Pep Boys, NAPA or other auto parts store and ask for an inspection sticker scraper. They use single edge blades, but have a long hinged handle allowing you to get the right angle for peeling off old deposits.

Ca3799 has covered the remaining important points regarding prep.

New material falls under the old adage-you get what you pay for. The GE premium K&B silicone is over $5 per tube, but I’ve never gotten a callback owing to failure.

One final bit of advice-push when caulking-never pull. It does make a difference. Good luck.

Ca3799 - in my family we call them “pink” jobs (as opposed to “blue” (boy) jobs). :slight_smile:

Thanks all for your encouragement & advice - this will be my Sunday project!

Is the stall backing actually linoleum or its like, or is it that plastic coated fiber board crap I ripped out of my shower stall? If it’s the later, and moisture has gotten into the bottom and made it warp, you’ll have a hard time ever getting a decent seal again. The fiberboard will change shape as it dries out, and that’ll pop the caulk.
They do make rolls of plastic sealing tape for use in such situations, but, in my hands at least, that’s a temporary fix.
Head to the library, and look up bathroom repairs. You should be able to find out exactly what type of material you’re dealing with in your shower stall.

Squink - it is actually linoleum - just like you’d put on your floor …

It is warped especially at the ‘seam’ underneath the faucets. I wish I could think of some way to flatten it out … :frowning:

One more q - I remember hearing that when re-caulking, you should fill the bathtub up with water so it’s “heavy” … otherwise, if you caulk with an empty tub, the first time it’s filled with water or someone stands in it for a shower, the seal will break.


Just curious.

Oh - I’ve already removed all of the old caulking - yuck - 85% of it was frighteningly easy to remove. Should’ve had a glass of wine while I was doing it, to make the job a little more fun. I think I’ll leave the actual caulking until the a.m.

By the way, we do someday plan to buy a tub/shower insert thing for the bathroom, but because we’re both leery of the condition of the walls behind this lino, we’re putting it off until we have the time and the funds in case it turns into a BIG job (i.e. replacing the drywall etc).

Google is my friend.

Yes, I should fill the bathtub up and leave it full while the caulk sets. :slight_smile:

I cannot BELIEVE what an exciting Saturday night I’m having.

One more thing. If the lino is actually curling up, caulk may not be strong enough to hold it down. It makes a great seal, but won’t “glue” it down.

Smear a little water-resistant construction adhesive on the back of the lino to stick it down first.

The issue of filling the tub was good advice in years gone by owing to the degree of elasticity of the caulking material. I’ve never [knocks head] had a callback for a failed seal and I don’t bother filling the tub, instead I spring for premium spooge. :wink: