Prepping To Caulk Bathtub

Bathroom Renovation: Replacing Old Caulk Around Your Bathtub

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Screwdriver and Scraper

Have you seen the movie Dennis the Menace?

There’s a part in the movie when he’s staying with the Wilson’s while his folks are out of town. Mrs. Wilson is helping Dennis with his bath. He starts out playing nice enough. But, by the end of his bath time, he’s twirling around and splashing water all over the floor.

Well, that’s what bath time is like for our two kids. We’ve tried keeping the shower curtain inside the tub while they bathe, but it does no good. Water gets everywhere. We lay at least 3 towels on the floor just to prevent accidental leaks through the flooring.

We only have one working shower/tub in the house right now. And, it was in pretty bad shape. Whoever had installed the bathtub made a mess with the grout and tile. Most of the caulking around the tub was cracked or chipped away.

With two kids who act like they’re the next Sea World stars in the bath, we made fixing all this mess a top priority.

We finished this project in just a few hours, counting the time it took for the caulk to dry. Replacing your tubs old caulking is a relatively inexpensive project. If we can do it, so can you.

Before you start, make sure you pick a time when it would be ok for the bathtub to be off limits.

The Tools You’ll Need:

Screwdriver or small paint scraper


Razor or something sharp for cutting

Large tube of caulk…we used DAP Kwik Seal Ultra in White

Painters tape

Caulking Gun

Plenty of paper towels

Cracked Caulking Around Bathtub

Removing Old Caulk From Your Bathtub

To be honest, I’m not really sure what type of caulk had initially been placed around our tub. There were holes and gaps in some areas, so we thought it would be an easy removal. We were wrong!

The caulk itself was really hard, almost like dried grout. I tried to pull an area out, and it wouldn’t budge. So, I found the largest crack in the caulk and used my screwdriver to pry it away from the tub. Once I got that piece loose, I used my screwdriver to continue loosening the caulking, section by section.

Jared had the bright idea to use the screwdriver as a chisel and tapped the end with a hammer. This worked so much better (and faster) at removing entire lengths of the old caulk. You’ll want to be careful with this technique. If you tap too hard, you could chip pieces off of your tile.

When we were finished, we did notice a few marks on the tub from the screwdriver rubbing against it. You could try wrapping some painters tape around the end of your screwdriver to prevent this from happening. Fingers crossed the marks come off our tub.

Cracked Caulk Around Bathtub

Once the big pieces were gone, we went back to remove the smaller pieces stuck behind the tile. You’ll want to make sure you get every bit of the old caulk out before putting new back in. It makes the job easier and prevents any cracks or gapping areas from forming as it dries. To remove the dust left behind, we used a rubber dust-removal tool. If you don’t have one on hand, use a hairdryer or small brush instead.

Removing Old Caulk From Bathtub
See what a mess it was!

Prepping The Area

Once we had all the old “stuff” removed and cleaned out, we started prepping the tub for new caulk. As you can see in the photo below, we had a wide gap to fill. Some areas were really wide, like in the corners and the edges on the outside of the tub. This can be normal in older homes because of the settling and changes that take place over time.

Removing Caulk From Bathtub
So much better already!

The first thing you’ll want to do is tape off the areas you DON’T want to caulk. If you’ve never done this before, it can be a very messy job. We learned this the hard way…which I’ll share in just a minute. As you tape, make sure your lines are straight, and the tape is smooth.

Next, fill your bathtub with water. This may sound crazy, but it’s actually an important step. The water will weigh your tub down, making the gap between it and your tile the largest it will be. If you skip this step and replace your new caulk, you may notice cracks the first time you fill your tub for a bath. So, make sure you fill it up first.

Also, make sure you fill it up AFTER you place your tape. We didn’t do this and, let’s just say, the full tub made taping more difficult than it needed to be.

Bathtub Prep

Replacing The Caulk Around Your Tub

This is the messy part I was telling you about. You’ll want to have an entire roll of paper towels on hand and ready to go. Jared took over this part…and I’m glad he did! To get your new caulk ready, place the unopened tip into the crack you’re wanting to fill. Mark a line on the tip where it stopped. Now, cut (on a diagonal) the end off.

DAP Kwik Seal Ultra Gloss White

Load the tube into your caulking gun by pulling the plunger back. (The plunger is the metal piece on the end of the caulking gun). Once you have the tube in place, squeeze the trigger a few times until the plunger makes contact.

BEWARE: when this happens, caulk will start coming out of the cut tip. It will not stop unless you release the pressure from the plunger. Make sure you have the tip in place and ready to go. Otherwise, you’ll lose a ton of caulking on the floor, bathtub, your hands, etc. We know from experience!

Starting in a corner, place the tube into the space you want the new caulk to go. Squeeze the trigger. Carefully run the tube along the space towards the opposite corner. If you skip a spot, just keep going. You can go back and fill that spot in later. Make sure you fill the space entirely so there won’t be any cracks once it dries. This was our first time caulking around a bathtub, so we took our time with this part.

Once you have caulked a line from corner to corner, take your finger or smoothing tool and smooth it out. Don’t use too much pressure, just enough to smooth any bubbles or uneven areas. Again, you’ll want to have plenty of paper towels on hand to wipe off the excess. Continue caulking and smoothing until you’ve made it all the way around the tub.

How To Caulk Around Bathtub

Our Final Thoughts

This is definitely a project anyone can do themselves. The most time-consuming part of all this was actually removing the old caulk. In total, we spent under $10 and about 2 hours total to get everything done. The type of caulk we used was completely dry and waterproof within 4 hours.

How To Caulk Around Bathtub
Now it’s time to give the tile a deep clean and paint the grout.

Stay tuned for more bathroom updates like this one. If you want to see some of the other DIY projects we’re working on, check out what we did to our fireplace.

Our next steps for the bathroom are to clean up the tiles and paint/seal the grout. I’m thinking of going with a darker grey color. What do you think? Go dark or stick with a clean white?

If you’ve painted your grout before, let us know what brand you used and how it went!

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