Bathtub caulking problems

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by robertcrowder, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. robertcrowder

    robertcrowder Retired engineer and do-it-yourselfer

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Virginia
    I am a new subscriber to this forum and am looking for some help. I have been recaulking bathtubs my whole adult life and have never had a problem before. But now, in recaulking my two tubs, the caulk starts peeling up after a couple of uses of the shower. I have caulked each one three times so far. I have used three different new tubs of caulk (All DAP Kitchen and Bath Adhesive Caulk - not the 100% silicone type). I have cleaned out the old caulk really well, scraped the surfaces with a razor blade, cleaned with Tilex mold and mildew cleaner (only on the first try), cleaned that up with water, wiped with laquer thinner (only the first time), wiped with rubbing alcohol (didn't have denatured type), dried with towel and air for 30 minutes, then caulked. Waited 24 hours to use. Peels up after two uses. Once I even dried with a hair dryer, but it also peeled up. I don't think I'm doing anything different than I have done previously countless times. Why does it come up? When I take it out again, the part that is buried somewhat deep under the tile is still soft and gooey. Any ideas? Thanks. Bob
  2. rjboykin

    rjboykin New Member

    Messages:
    16
    I'm not a pro. I have only caulked both my tubs, each time I used the GE 100% Silicon II and have never had an issue after hundreds of showers. I picked it up at HD.
  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,443
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    For constant water like that, the Silicone.
  4. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Use the real stuff!

    Hi Bob,
    Water based caulks are really easy to use and the line can be wiped-in with a damp sponge, so that's why everyone uses them. However they tend to yellow with age, don't have much flex to them, and they're really terrible when setting cast iron sinks where, eventually, rust leaches out around the edge.

    So what's a guy to do?

    Get the real stuff: GE Silicone, either the original stinky stuff or the newer Silicone II.

    'But I can't wipe it in with a sponge and it's a mess to work with', is the typical response.

    Here's where a good fresh roll of green painter's tape and/or electrical tape comes in.

    If dealing with straight seams, the painter's tape is just fine, but when going around a sink, toilet base or shower controls, electrical tape can just about follow any curve.

    You want to mask each side of the seam, leaving about 1/8" to 3/16" gap.

    Cut the tube so the nozzle opening is pretty small so you'll have better control.

    Oh, yeah: Before you start caulking, tape a paper towel to the wall in the shower area.............Just hang it by a strip of tape so it's hanging flat.

    Now..........With all the joints masked, caulk your first vertical seam, and then using whatever finger you like, push the caulk in while 'drawing' your finger down the seam.

    Wipe your finger on the hanging paper towel by 'rolling it' off. Now you can see where the excess is, and then use a clean spot for the next time, and so on. You won't need a whole roll of paper towels this way.

    If you need to, repeat the push and draw on the same seam, clean your finger, and then, carefully, pull the tape, one piece at a time, but pull it away from the seam instead of across it.

    You'll have a perfect seam every time.

    It sounds like a lot of work, yes, but a whole lot less than doing and redoing it twice like you've gone through.

    "Why is it that there's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over?"

    That's a quote I saw hanging on a sign in a hardware store I saw many years ago.

    If the silicone peels, by the way, it very well may be that the surface was contaminated with silicone spray somehow, and that's not good.

    Best of luck!

    Howard
    PS-Did you spray a grout sealer on these tile areas? I've never used them, but they may be the culprit regarding the peeling problem.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Reguardless of which caulk you decide to use the most important part of caulking is preping the surface that is to be caulked. It must be clean down to the tile / surface to be caulked with nothing left of the previous caulk. If the surface is clean and dry the caulk will adhear to the surface. Also allow the caulk to cure 2 days before exposing to water, for the best results.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Old caulk? Silicone, and even the latex based, do not age well. Probably 1 year max in an UNOPENED tube, 1 month in an open tube.

    Check your tubes for expiration date.
  7. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Regarding grout sealer and caulk

    Just to add a little to my earlier posting: It sure seems that grout sealers contain the 'bad kind' of silicone; the stuff that auto body shops and finishers in general do everything to keep away from their premises because nothing sticks in its presence.

    Generally the instructions appear to tell you to grout, let dry at least a couple of days, then caulk and then apply the grout sealer when the caulk is cured.

    The problem then becomes evident when you try to re-caulk at a later date.

    I would never use a grout sealer. There's never a substitute for good maintenance, but if bad water causes excess staining, then you can use epoxy grout to start with, but it's a real pain to work with, and you'd better be quick about it!

    HE
  8. robertcrowder

    robertcrowder Retired engineer and do-it-yourselfer

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Virginia
    Thanks for all your replies. I have never used any grout sealers before. And as you can see in my original post, I have cleaned the surface really well each time and even allowed overnight drying before I caulk. This last one I redid for the third time I allowed 48 hours for the caulk to dry and the first time we used it this morning, it peeled up again. Oh, and all the three different tubes of caulk I have used were all bought new. I think my problem is that I must have used silicone caulk previously and didn't remember. We have been redoing our bathrooms (granite, new fixtures, paint) which is the reason I have been recaulking. The plumbers came back this morning to fix a leak from their previous installation and I mentioned the problem to them. With no hesitation they were certain I had used 100% silicone before. They've seen it before. So I'm going to try the GE Silicone II that one of you suggested. If that doesn't work .... what, new tile and new tubs because I'm at a loss. I'll let you know in a few days if the silicone works. If it is the silicone, even after all my cleaning, how come in all the on-line "how-to-do it sites they don't mention this potential problem? Thanks.
    Bob
  9. Tub Refinisher

    Tub Refinisher Tub refinisher

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    You probably still have some residue from the old silicone caulk. Believe me, it is very difficult to get it all off - I run into it all the time. And if you don't get every speck of it off, even the new silicone won't stick. Nothing will stick to cured silicone, not even more silicone!

    What I normally do is remove all I can with a sharp razor blade, then you can still feel along the edge to see if there is a film. If you look closely at the right angle, you can see it. Try sanding it with 80 grit sandpaper, then clean with acetone. You may have to repeat the process a number of times. It's no fun, but you have to get it ALL off!
  10. robertcrowder

    robertcrowder Retired engineer and do-it-yourselfer

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Virginia
    Thanks. That must be the problem ... I still had some residue even tho I really cleaned it. I recaulked a couple of days ago with GE Silicone II. It was easy to work with and after two showers, it seems to be sticking real tight. I also found a website
    (www.topoftheline.com/silicone-wax-remover.html) that has a silcone remover that auto paint shops use to remove the silicone that might be of interest.
  11. MKallusky

    MKallusky New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Alberta
    Hello,
    We've been having problems with the caulking in out bathtub - it doesn't seem to dry (the stuff further back in the seam is still gooey) and keeps cracking. I noticed during a bath that the seams separate about 2 mm - and this was after we had already re-done the project twice - which obviously results in the cracking. Does the water in the bathtub while caulking trick actually work? Does the humidity from the water interfer with the curing process? We're going to have to re-do this project for the THIRD time here pretty soon and I'd really like it to work!
  12. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,863
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Sounds like your tub is flexing M. I would use a fresh tube of silicone and cross your fingers....
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