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SPECIAL REPORT:    CAULKING


Caulking around the bathtub and shower area is a regular household maintenance chore often neglected by many homeowners. If the joints between the tub, shower base, and ceramic tile walls, are not properly sealed, water can enter creating leakage below or deteriorating the tile backing and loosening the tile.

CAULK SELECTION
Silicone and urethane caulks are the most durable and have the best elasticity. These types of caulk are best left to the professional and should be avoided. They are difficult to use.  Acrylic caulks such as DAP Tub and Tile Caulking or Polyseam Tub and Tile Caulking are a much better choice for the average homeowner. They come in handy, easy to use plastic toothpaste-like tubes large enough to do one bath area.  The acrylic caulk can be smoothed or wiped off with a damp sponge until they start to cure and are nearly as durable as silicone and urethane. Many professionals choose the acrylic caulks for their working characteristics and smooth appearance.

INSTALLATION
First the old caulking should be removed. A sharp putty knife works well for this. You should wear heavy work gloves when doing this. After the old caulking is removed, the area should be scrubbed clean and sprayed with chlorine bleach to kill any mold or mildew. Fill the bathtub full of water. This added weight will settle the bathtub to it's lowest position. After the area to be caulked has dried, it is ready for caulking.  The tip of the caulking nozzle should be trimmed at a 45 degree angle. Start at the corners and work toward the center with long, smooth, continuous strokes. Any irregularities can be smoothed out with a wet finger or a damp sponge.

Be sure that all horizontal areas such as window sills and ledges are well sealed.  Any open spaces between ceramic tile should be grouted or caulked.  Seal around faucets, tub spigots and inside corners. Once this caulk has dried, it should have very good water and mildew resistance.  Allow the caulk 24 hours to cure before using the bath or shower.

When the water is drained out of the tub, the tub will actually rise slightly, compressing the caulk for a good, tight, durable seal.


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