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5 Steps to Re-Caulk Your Bathtub for less than $30. A Step-by-Step Guide for DIY

December 29, 2016

Re-caulking a bathtub, shower, or sink can be a messy job! Over the years, One and Done Handyman has re-caulked their fair share and it's time to pass along what they have learned to you so you can save yourself some time & money. Here are 5 steps to re-caulk your bathtub for less than $30 and to have done in about 1 hour.


Step 1: Determine why you need to re-caulk your bathtub

Here are a few reasons as to why you would want to re-caulk your bathtub. 

  1. Black Spots behind the caulk. Let's face it. You've tried everything to clean those blacks spots off the caulk and they won't come off! That's because water has gotten behind the caulk, creating a rich food environment, and mold has grown. 

  2. Caulk is rubbing off, pealing away, or missing in some areas. Caulk will wear out over time and loose it's adhesiveness to the tile. When this happens it starts to peal away.

  3. Caulk looks dingy or is starting to crack. When you see this, it's time to re-caulk


Step 2: Remove old caulk.

Removing caulk from your bathtub is a time consuming task. To do it well and effectively it requires the right tools and some attention to detail. This is a very important step in the process and should not be rushed. 


If you leave any old caulk on the tile or bathtub, the new caulk will adhere to the old. When the old breaks away, then there is a gap for water to get behind the new. It is imperative to remove all the old caulk. Here is how you do it.


Tools & equipment required: 

To remove the old caulk start by using the metal point end of the 3 in 1 Caulk Tool. Simply press firmly in the corner where the caulk is and pull it towards you, making sure it stay's in contact with the corner. The caulk will peal off immediately. This should remove a large percentage of the caulk.


With any remaining caulk on the tile or bathtub, use the Razor Blade Scraper and or Painter's Tool to remove any stubborn caulking. This is the most difficult part of the entire process and it's vital all of the caulk is removed. 


Simply press the razor blade firmly on the tile and move it up and down, making sure all the old caulk has been removed. Run your finger along the corners to make sure you feel the smooth tile and bathtub. Repeat using the razor blade or painter's tool as necessary.


Step 3: Clean the corners

After the old caulk has been removed, clean the corners by first using a shop vac or vacuum along the edges, then spraying 409 or the equivalent. Take an old toothbrush and scrub the corners. Then a paper towel to wipe up the cleaner and dirt.


You will need to give it several minutes for the tile and bathtub to dry. If you apply the silicone caulk to wet tile, it will not adhere.



Step 4: Apply Silicone Caulk

There are a few ways you can apply the silicone caulk. Before going into the different methods, it's important to have the right tools and product.


Tools and product required:

  • Caulk Gun - $3.00 - prices range from $3.00 - $20.00

  • Silicone - $6.00 - You will want one that is waterproof, mold proof, and made for bathtubs. White is most popular color. If you have colored tile, you may want clear. One tube should be enough for one bathtub.

  • Painter's Tape - $6.00 - Optional

Loading the Caulk Gun: You will want to take the razor blade and cut the tip of the Silicone Caulk at an angle. Be sure not to cut too far down! It's better to trim just the tip off and then trim a bit more off as you find the right amount of Silicone Caulk to apply. Place the Silicone Caulk in the Caulk Gun and pull the trigger until you see a little bit of caulking come out of the tip. Then release the trigger and pressure in the Caulk Gun. 


To watch a video on how to properly use a caulk gun, click here.

Apply Tape: For Easy Cleanup apply Painter's Tape on both sides of the corner, leaving between a 1/8th to 1/4th inch gap from the corner to the tape. When you smooth out the caulk, the excess caulk will be on the tape. Then when you peal the tape away, you don't have to worry about creating finished lines with your finger, tool, or wet towel. The $6.00 for painter's tape is well worth the investment!


Applying the caulk: Simply apply the caulk in the corner by squeezing the caulk gun trigger and drag it along the corner, keeping firm pressure. Once you have made it to the end of the corner, it's time to give it a finished look by using one of 2 methods. 


 Method 1: Finger application

This is the most common, but messy form of caulk application. You will want to have a wet towel handy. Make sure it's an old, beat up rag.


After you apply the silicone caulk, take your finger, press firmly and drag it along the corner. Your finger should be at a 45 degree angle. Too steep and too much pressure will remove the caulk from the corner.


Once you have accumulated too much excess caulk on your finger, wipe it off and then run your finger along the corner to smooth out any other areas. 


Method 2: 3 in 1 Caulk Tool

This tool will allow you to choose the right curvature or seal for your bathtub. The rubber side will allow you to apply firm pressure as you drag the tool along the corner.


You will see the tool acts like a finger, pulling away excess caulk and creating a firm seal in the corner. To clean the excess off, simply use a paper towel and wipe it off the tool.


 Step 5: Clean up & Allow for proper curing time

Once you have completed all the corners, clean the area around you and any tools you may have used. If you used Painter's tape, clean up should be extremely easy! 


You may have to clean your finger or caulk tool off from time to time with any excess caulk. Use a wet towel or rag for best results.



Allow for up to 24 hours of drying and curing time. You don't want any water or moisture to get on or behind the silicone sealant. If it does, you will be right back to removing caulking that is peeling away, has mold growing behind it, or cracking.





In all, this process should take between 1 to 2 hours for someone who has not done this before, not including time at the hardware store for materials or curing time.


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