Need advice on caluking shower enclosure.

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Hardt, Nov 8, 2008.

  1. Hardt

    Hardt Member

    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Need advice on caulking shower enclosure.

    I installed a round shower enclosure kit a few years ago and it has always leaked at the sides. It is basically, two wall sides that join at the corner, a base, one stationary curved wall and one sliding curved door...it's footprint is a quarter of a circle. I started removing the caulking and realized that the caulking has separated from the plastic walls and it came out very easily in a long string. I think it is 100% silicone sealant because it is very rubbery. Obviously it was not providing a good seal. I reread the installation manual and it says NOT to use 100% silicone and to use latex/acrylic caulk with less than 40% silicone content. I searched the web and this site and I can't figure out why 100% silcone caulking should not be used. Whatever kind of sealant I decide to use, do you think it would be a good idea to fold a 80 grit sandpaper and then inserting the fold into the seam to roughen up the sides of the seam to provide better adhesion for the sealant? The seams between the base and wall pieces are between 1/8" to 3/16". All the other seams are snug.I hope someone can shed some light about the warning not to use 100% silicone!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2008
  2. Howard Emerson

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

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY

    When I used to build bathrooms for a living I had a particular job where the customers wanted to save money on the shower, so they have me put in plastic shower walls that were to be glued to the sheetrock.

    I don't know why, to this day, but nothing wanted to stick, and the stuff that would have stuck would have melted the plastic............

    It sounds like you might have to use the flammable stuff, the Lexel clear caulking, that can even be put on to wet surfaces.

    http://www.sashcosealants.com/Content/Files/lexel_brochure.pdf

    I think this would be the way to go as long as you don't run a ventilation fan that has a sparking motor or light any cigarettes while it's curing.

    Unlike silicone, this stuff can be applied over itself in the case of repairs, etc.

    Most good hardware stores carry it.

    Best of luck.

    Howard
  3. Hardt

    Hardt Member

    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Thanks Howard for the tip... after reading your post, I went out and bought a 5 oz squeeze tube of Lexel white. For those who might want to try this sealant, this stuff does not go on as easily as the latex/acrylic/silicone caulk...it is very sticky and you have to work a little quicker because if you try to apply several coats of it (my seams were very deep and I tried to push each coat deeper into the seams) the previous coat will start to set and will tend to pull up. If I had to do it over again, I would cut the nozzle for a thicker bead and I would not have had to make repeat passes. It took some effort with paint thinner to scrub the stuff off my fingers and if that is any indication of its stick-to-it-ness, it should last for a few years, I hope. The directions says cures firm in 2 - 4 days so I waited for the full 4 days to be safe. Used the shower and it does not leak!! Thanks again.
  4. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    They sell that at ACE, Howard. How does it stand up to mold? I have a similar situation and I have to replace the silicone caulk yearly, and I buy the best that I can get, 50 year warranty.
  5. Howard Emerson

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

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Glad to hear the stuff worked out!

    I don't remember if I've posted about it on this forum, but my technique for using caulks that are NOT water based (and therefore really hard to 'wipe in' cleanly) is this: I use electrical or painter's tape on either side of the caulking joint.

    The electrical tape is for caulking sinks or toilet bases because it easily conforms to all the curves. Same goes for shower control plates and the like.

    I do a line of tape on either side of the desired joint, and I make it as narrow as 1/16". I then squeeze the caulking in, and then, using a wet fingertip, I drag and press the joint all the way around, sometimes twice.

    I then carefully pull the tape one strip at a time, and always end up with a perfect line.

    On tile corner joints, I almost always cover the grout with clear so that it's always a match.

    By the way, I always hang a paper towel on the wall with a piece of tape, and there I 'roll off' the excess that's on my finger tip, and of course you end up with about 30 clean spots to do this, as opposed to using 30 paper towels to clean your fingers with every time you drag a joint.

    I used to build bathrooms for a living, so I've had some experience with this stuff.

    Be well,
    Howard
    http://www.howardemerson.com/
  6. Howard Emerson

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

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY

    S-Man,
    If you're replacing your 50year silicone caulk yearly, then there's something else wrong: It's the housekeeping!!

    And that says nothing about how well you and your family keep a house clean, by the way.

    When I used to build bathrooms I would tell the customers that if they wanted to keep mildew/mold away, then they had to make sure they had a good ventilation system, turn it on before they started the shower, squeegie the excess water off the walls and enclosure after showering and most of all: DO NOT CLOSE THE SHOWER DOORS AFTER YOU FINISH SHOWERING!!!!

    ...........and then make sure you open the bathroom door completely after you're done.

    If you don't give it anything to feel on, mold and mildew can't get an easy foothold.

    Also, regarding Lexel caulk: The stuff I suggested can be re-applied over itself at any time after it has cured, and it can be scrubbed with cleaners, so that may be the way to go in your case.

    They have several different products including water based caulks that are mildew resistant with a 7 year warranty of some sort. It's also suppose to be very stretchy to boot.

    Check out their site for the particulars.

    http://www.sashcosealants.com/Home_Improvement/Did_You_Know.aspx


    Best,
    Howard
  7. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Thanks for the advice Howard. This particular shower is a stand-up type, thick plastic "boards" (for lack of a better term), a one piece floor pan with 4" curbs, and a glass panel and door on the 4th side. It has 3 white caulk joints: 2 vertical between panels, and a horizontal one at the base of the panels and top of the curb. There is clear silicone between the panel and glass frames, but they are very tight joints and never been replaced. The house is 15 years old.

    The vertical seams have never been replaced. I've only had trouble with the lower, horizontal. In the first few years that I had the house I replaced the caulk about once/ year. There was a nasty red-black spot that just would not go away and I tried several different types of caulk on it, always removing the old stuff completely and cleaning the area with an old toothbrush and bleach. I even mixed up powdered chlorine with hot water into a syringe and injected it in there. Finally I used a pick tool and identified the problem, ten cut it out with a saws all blade held in pliers- it was a small nail that had been dropped behind the panel and was bleeding rust into the back of the joint.

    Anyway that stopped that. My last replacement was with a 50year GE pure silicone, and that's last three years. I clean it once/ week with a bathroom cleaner, various types. It always starts to "mold up" at the same two spots, and they're starting to get worn down. When I clean it they don't get completely clean until I hit them with bleach cleaner a second time and let it soak in. I know its time to replace it again and am wondering if this other product would be more durable.

    It's obvious that moisture is the problem but we do run the vent fan to reduce it. I know that closing the door after the shower traps a layer of moisture near the floor but I bang my elbows on the door if left open so my elbows are going to rule out.
  8. Howard Emerson

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

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY
    Hi S-Man,
    It sounds like you're doing everything right, but that this one corner is crux of the problem in terms of being the 'last outpost' in the drying game.

    It sounds like the Sashco product, Lexel clear or white, would be your best choice due to its ability to self-bond a new layer over old, and resist damage due to hard scrubbing, but you'd first have to remove the old silicone caulk.

    The cleaner that is used to remove silicone, McKanica, would work, although I've never used it myself. They do mention it somewhere on the Sashco site.

    http://www.acehardware.com/sm-mckan...a-silicone-caulk-remover-gel--pi-2151182.html

    As a last resort, perhaps a really small wall mounted oscillating fan pointed at the shower base?

    HE
  9. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    So Far I've not had difficulty cleaning off old silicone with a DAP product, but when I pick up a tube of Lexel white I'll look for this other brand. Thanks.
  10. Howard Emerson

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

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY

    I just received a reply from the Sashco company regarding the mildew resistance of certain products they make:

    "Howard,
    They are mildew resistant. Our Big Stretch, which is a water based, is not recommended for bathroom applications. Lexel is perfect for bathroom applications. Excellent when using strong abrasive and scrubing. Will not tear or crack.

    We do have a new product called Mildewfree resistant tub and tile. This comes with a 7yr guarantee. Excellent against mildew if applied correctly. All items can be purchase at Ace hardware, True Value and Do It Best stores.

    If you have any other questions please call us at 1800-289-7290

    Peggy"

    HE
  11. Phil Clemence

    Phil Clemence New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Thanks for spreading the tips on caulk, Howard.
    Do you ever feel like standing in the local hardware, steering customers away from inappropriate caulks for their projects?! LOL

    I am glad to hear about the Lexel - the only thing I have been able to recommend is silicone, which is fine if prepped and applied right in a stable system, but .... typical surrounds can be frustrating for the average homeowner, and i never felt they should have to become experts at stripping and recaulking!
  12. Howard Emerson

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

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Huntington Station, NY

    Hi Phil,
    Actually I did work, for time, in a really, really good local hardware store, and the advice the customer was given had only to do with doing it right. However, if they did not want to spend the extra dime or do the extra time needed for that to happen, that was their choice.

    Lexel, except for its flammable nature and concentration of fumes in a small area like a bathroom, is a no-brainer due to its ability to be re-applied over itself if needed.

    Once silicone is cured, that's the end of it unless you do hard labor.

    HE
    http://www.howardemerson.com/
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