Introduction: A Filthy Guide to Recaulking Your Filthy Bathtub
Oh. My. God.
Becky. Look at his tub.
It's so... dirty.
It looks like one of those crap guy's bathrooms.
I mean that tub.
It's just so dirty.
I can't believe it's so brown.
I mean it's so gross.
I want a clean tub and I cannot lie.
All the other brothers start to cry.
When they walk in and show distaste
it makes me feel disgraced.
So Fellas (YEAH) Fellas (YEAH)
Has your bathtub got the smut?
Well, clean it, clean it, clean it, clean it clean it, clean that filthy tub.
Step 1: It's Filthy. You're Filthy. Everything Is Disgusting.
The reason I am recaulking the tub is because there is a small leak that seems to let water run outside of the tub. This is probably bad in the long term - bad enough to make me overcome my natural laziness because I imagine that the tub crashing down through layers of rot would be more work to clean up.
The REAL reason is because it is filthy dirty. Terrible. Don't zoom in on the pictures. You did, didn't you? Now you are tainted and must be purified. I warned you.
Let us chant the mantra of the ignorant and uninformed as we progress.
Step 2: Get Rid of Filthy Old Caulk
The instructions say: "Remove existing caulk completely." OK, got it.
I got one of those "all-in-one" tools. In my mind, I envisioned swiftly and deftly slicing the old caulk away.
What the blade is supposed to do, I have no idea. It stutters and skips along the surface of the rubbery caulk, gouging and tearing away chunks. They peel away fitfully, leaving behind pieces even on the good tries. "Blade" is a generous term, as they have no sharp edges. I get the sense that I'm using it wrong.
The caulk is fractal. Removing one piece reveals that it has left behind two. It is a Serpeinski's triangle of futility. It is a Menger Sponge of caulk. You can scrape and scrape, and yet there is more caulk. How is this possible? It is a veritable fountain of caulk, flowing endlessly from my disgusting tub. My bath tub is haunted by the caulk of Sisyphus.
This part of the process takes about three hours.
Step 3: Try Harder to Get Rid of Old Caulk
The instructions say: "Remove existing caulk completely."
"Some guy on the internet" (an unchallengeable source, unquestionable, unimpeachable) said that WD-40 can make the caulk wither and be easier to remove. Better living through chemistry!
Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. I SUPPOSE it makes the caulk more slippery and stop sticking to itself as I scrape at it. It also transforms the caulk remnants into slick, oily bits that tend to stick to everything else.
Maybe you are supposed to let the penetrating oil sit on the caulk and break it down over time, and that makes it easier to "remove existing caulk completely." I'm not a caulk scientist, I don't know.
I use a scouring pad to vigorously rub the caulk, as "Some guy on the internet" also said that heat from friction can remove it. That also kind of works. Instead of chunks, I can feel the caulk peeling up into tiny balls under my fingers as I scrub. Tiny, oily balls of filthy caulk.
Step 4: OK, That's Both Better and Worse
Let's assess the situation.
Instead of filthy caulk, I now have slimy remnants of filthy, oily caulk balls. Progress. We live in an age of wonders.
I use a wet/dry vacuum to try to suck this mess up. It mostly works. Mostly.
Now instead of filthy caulk staining my tub, it is merely oily. With a tiny bit of caulk remaining. Wisps of caulk. Ghostly caulk.
"Some guy on the internet" said I could clean both oil and caulk up with mineral spirits. What better way to get rid of ghost caulk than with mineral spirits, right?
Step 5: Give Up. Everything Is Terrible.
OK, so the situation is that I have a tub covered with tiny ghost caulk balls, everything is finely misted with penetrating oil, and the room now reeks of mineral spirits. The fumes are strangely alluring, which I assume is probably a bad sign.
It's fair to say that the tub is haunted. Cursed. I should heed the messages that form on the walls and say "Leave this place!" and then disappear when I try focus on them. It is the work of the evil spirits and ghosts.
Or fume hallucinations. Either way, I abandon this bathtub like a rat fleeing a sinking ocean liner with faulty caulking.
I seal the door, never to return. This room can be unearthed by archaeologists in the distant future, when we have evolved past the need for bathrooms and caulk.
Step 6: Don't Caulk Too Hard.
Some time has passed, and I feel braver. I can do this. The fumes have dissipated and it should be safe to re-enter. Everything will be OK.
Time to start caulking!
I immediately fail again.
It seems that even if you follow the instructions on the tube, and prepare the gun and pierce the seal, you can still end up with caulk going out the back instead of the tip. Caulk is everywhere (again) and now I have to clean up new liquid caulk instead of old solid caulk. Theoretically, the mineral spirits are good for this, but it is mostly the work of too many paper towels.
This game sucks.
Step 7: Clearly, I Have Too Much Caulk.
OK, time to buy a new tube. A more expensive, classier tube. You get what you pay for, and if you try sometimes, you get what you need, and I deserve some expensive caulk in my life. A once-in-a-lifetime splurge.
The instructions say to cut the tip to the "desired size" but nowhere do they say what that is. They nicely marked the sizes on the nozzle, which is clearly a mark of how classy this tube of caulk is, but I still have no idea what the right size is.
Halfway, I guess? Can't go wrong there, right? Split the difference.
It's not too bad to squeeze out a semi-semi-continous line of caulk around the tub. That part actually goes like the instructions say it would. I just keep dragging and squeezing, dragging and squeezing. It takes just a few minutes.
It's way too much, in retrospect.
Step 8: We're Back to Getting Rid of Caulk.
I use the other end of the tool to wipe off the surplus caulk, and lay down a smooth finish. It seems to work tolerably well for this (better than the metal caulk remover end), but I have way too much caulk for it to handle. It's caulk overload.
I have to wipe off the caulk from the rubber when it builds up, because it smears and makes a mess. Hooray - time for more mineral spirits and paper towels!
"Some guy on the internet" said I should put painter's tape down to make a channel to keep the caulk contained. This was great advice, and I wish I had remembered to do it. I blame mineral spirit fumes. Are they addictive? Am I subconsciously sabotaging my work to keep coming back to the spirits?
Anyway, I remove at least half of the caulk I just put down.
Step 9: Let It Sit in the Corner and Think About What It Has Done.
Not too bad. But it needs a certain something...
Step 10: That's It.
NOW that's what we needed all along.
Just cover it up. Hide it away. You can't leak if you can't be seen. (I call this "The Schrödinger's Snowden Seepage Scenario.")
Step 11: Dramatis Personæ
Red Devil 3224 Mini Glass Scraper - The MVP of old caulk removal, and the tool I ended up using most.
ALLWAY TOOL CT31 3 In 1 Caulk Tool - Not bad. I don't recommend it strongly, but I have nothing negative to say against it, either.
Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Smooth Hex Rod Cradle Caulking Gun with Gator Trigger Comfort Grip, 1/10 Gallon Cartridge, 10:1 Thrust Ratio - I have absolutely no strong feelings about this whatsoever. I used it for 5 minutes, it did what was expected, OK.
A wet dry (shop) vac. - I'm pretty sure using the good vacuum to clean up the mess would have resulted in long-term problems. Perhaps not mandatory, but helpful.
- This tube, unlike the first one, did not spew caulk out the rear, so that was a plus. Also, it was FAR less smelly.
- I exaggerate the fumes from the mineral spirits for comedic effect. But "odorless" isn't entirely true, either.
WD-40 110057 Multi-Use Product Spray with Smart Straw, 8 oz. (Pack of 1) - Did it work? Tough to say. I might have been able to just use mineral spirits to the same effect.
Ten Thousand Paper Towels.
Instructions I followed:
1) Remove existing caulk completely.
2) Cut nozzle to desired bead size.
3) Puncture seal and load tube into gun.
4) Fill gap with sealant.
5) Smooth bead.
6) Allow to cure completely before exposing to water.
7) Clean uncured sealant from surfaces and tools with mineral spirits.