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How To Recaulk A Bathtub

Are the caulk lines on your bathtub cracked, peeling or discolored? It may be time for you to recaulk! Learn all of the in’s and out’s of this simple DIY in this tutorial for how to recaulk a bathtub.

Thank you to DAP for sponsoring this post! All opinions are entirely my own. This post also contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t recommend wholeheartedly. Read my full disclosure here.

With homeownership comes the ability to renovate, paint walls however you want, and add special touches that make your house feel like home (like a cute little reading nook in your living room). But with homeownership also comes a lot of extra responsibilities…and most of them aren’t that fun. 

Ya know, things like adding a garbage disposal to your kitchen sink…or restoring your wood deck….maybe even refinishing hardwood floors. One of those not-so-fun homeowner type things is making sure your bathroom areas are sealed and not getting damaged by water – which leads to mold and mildew…and then it REALLY turns into a not-so-fun thing. 

A few months ago, when we were sharing all about our bathroom renovation, I talked alot about waterproofing your shower when we shared shower tile tips and tricks. That post is filled with so many great tips, but most of them only apply if you are doing shower tile from scratch. 

If you are dealing with an old house or maybe fixing someone else’s mistakes (like we were….more on that later), there comes a time when you may need to recaulk your bathtub. 

Cracked and peeling caulk line between tub and flooring with arrow point to caulk line and text overlay that says EW! Below the text overlay says how to know when it is time to recaulk

How do you know if your bathtub needs to be recaulked? 

Good question! You definitely need to recaulk your bathtub or shower if the caulk lines are:

  • discolored
  • cracking
  • peeling
  • have gaps

Caulk line at the base of a bath tub where the flooring meets the tub that dirty and cracked and needs replacing

Close up shot of a caulk line at the base of a bath tub where the flooring meets the tub that dirty and cracked and needs replacing

Caulk line at the base of a bath tub where the flooring meets the tub that dirty and cracked and needs replacing

When we started working on this recaulk projects, we figured out that the line where our bathtub meets the floor was grouted and NOT caulked, which is a big mistake. You may be wondering…

…why should you caulk the line where your bathtub meets the flooring, rather than grout it? 

  • First of all, this is an area of the bathroom that may get regularly exposed to water splashes from a messy toddler in the bathtub or even someone taking a shower without the shower curtain  blocking the water splashes. 
  • If water sits on grout, the grout will soak in the water over time (even if you seal it). 
  • When you use the tub, it will expand and contract due to the heat. Grout is brittle and will crack in these instances and not flexible like caulk.

Bright white new caulk line on bathtub with tan marble looking flooring with a tube of caulk in caulk gun laying on floor with text overlay that says how to recaulk a bathroom

Supplies for how to recaulk bathtub:

Man's hand scratching old caulk line with a razor blade to remove it

Removing old caulk in bathroom with a razor blade before recaulking

Remove old caulking or grout. 

Start by using your utility knife to remove any old caulking/grout that may be present between the bathtub and flooring. We, unfortunately, had grout here – not caulk. See above to find out why you should always caulk the line where the bathtub meets flooring instead of grouting.

Hand holding bottle of rubbing alcohol in front of bathtub in bathroom

Man in bathroom in front of bathtub pouring rubbing alcohol on a towel getting ready to clean before applying caulk

Man's hand scrubbing caulk line with a scour pad and rubbing alcohol to remove old caulk before recaulking in bathroom

Clean area. 

After the old caulking is removed, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the area with rubbing alcohol and a scour pad. The scour pad helps get rid of any stubborn caulking and other residues that might not have come off during the scraping. Rubbing alcohol also leaves a extremely clean surface as it evaporates. 

Wait until it dries.

Wait until everything is perfectly dry. This may not seem like a step, but it is really important that everything needs to thoroughly dry or else the caulking won’t seal and grab the surfaces properly. This is crucial and part of the prep work to ensure a good seal or water will get under the floors, leading to rot. 

Man in bathroom adding a line of painter's tape in front of bathtub before recaulking the area where the tub meets the flooring

Man laying down on floor in bathroom and applying painter's tape to the area where the floor meets the tub to recaulk the area and waterproof the bathtub

Tape off line. 

Once everything is perfectly dry and clean, you can get out the painter’s tape and put down a straight line along the edge of your flooring. Try to leave a sliver of your flooring…we’re talking about a really small, visible sliver of following when you lay out this line. Then run a line of painter’s tape along your tub with the tape. There really isn’t any reason to go high off the ground just try to be a little bit higher than your flooring.

Man hands holding a tub of caulk and opening the tip with a utility knife held at a 45 degree angle

Hand holding a tube of DAP Kwik Seal Ultra in an orange caulk gun in front of a bathroom floor

Open caulk and loading caulk gun. 

Open your tube of caulking at a 45 degree angle with the utility knife.  Try to keep the opening as small as you can. By leaving the opening small you can reuse the tube later and you ensure that you don’t squeeze too much caulking out at once.

Next, you can put the tube of caulk into your caulk gun. Start by swinging out the little stick on your caulk gun and sticking it in the top of the tube. This pierces the seal (if any) to get the caulk flowing. Then simply place the caulk tub into the gun and you’re ready to go. If you gently pull on the trigger, the caulk should start coming out. 

Man applying caulk to the area in the bathroom where the bathtub meets the flooring in between two strips of blue painter's tape

Man holding DAP Kwik Seal Ultra bathroom caulk in gun and applying in between painter's tape to caulk the bathtub and bathroom floor

Man smoothing or tooling the bead of caulk with his finger on the floor in a bathroom at the base of the bathtub in between painter's tape

Apply caulk.

Holding the caulking gun at a 45 degree angle, run an even bead along the gap in between the tape. Immediately run your finger to push in the caulking in so that it fills the gap completely and grabs both the tub and flooring. If it is at all sticky, you can try wetting your finger slightly. 

Man's hands removing painter's tape from bathroom after applying new white caulk at the base of the bath tub

Remove painter’s tape. 

Remove the blue tape. You’ll want to do this fairly quickly. The longer you wait, the more likely the caulk will bond with the tape. 

Smoothing a fresh bead of white caulk on the front of a bathtub in bathroom

Smooth caulk again.

Right after you remove the tape, quickly run your finger along the caulk bead again to push down and seal any caulking that may have lifted when you removed the tape.

Clean up. 

Clean up any caulking that may have spread and all your tools and equipment and let your caulking dry.

If you are going to be using the caulk tube again soon, you can put some painter’s tape around the top, so it doesn’t dry out. 

Fresh new white caulk lines in bathroom where the flooring meets the bathtub

Close up image of new caulk line in bathroom with tan flooring and tan bathtub

Corner of bathroom flooring and new caulk lines on bathtub

You are done!!!! Be sure to allow the caulking to dry according to the specifications are on the tube. DAP’s Kwik Seal Ultra recommends that you wait at least 4 hours before its exposed to water. If you don’t wait 4 hours then water may wash out the caulking and you’ll have to start the project over. So be sure to plan around this before you begin the project.

Even if you don’t have much DIY experience, learning how to recaulk a bathtub is pretty simple. Even with drying time this project should take you less than 1 hour and shouldn’t cost you more than $10. After you’re done, you’ll be left with a waterproof bathtub and fresh looking caulk lines. 

Ready to see those before and afters??

Before and after image of caulk in bathroom along the edge of bathtub after it gets redone

Before and after pictures with a bright which new caulk lines where the bathtub meets the flooring with text overlay that says how to recaulk a bathtub

Do you need to recaulk your bathtub too?? 

Let me know how it goes in the comments below! 

 

How To Recaulk A Bathtub

How To Recaulk A Bathtub

Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $10
Are the caulk lines on your bathtub cracked, peeling or discolored? It may be time for you to recaulk! Learn all of the in’s and out’s of this simple DIY in this tutorial for how to recaulk a bathtub.

Materials

Tools

Instructions

  1. Remove old caulking or grout.
  2. Clean area with rubbing alcohol and scour pad. Wait until it dries.
  3. Tape off line.
  4. Open caulk with utility knife at 45 degree angle and load caulk gun.
  5. Apply even bead of caulk along the gap in between the tape. Run your finger to push caulking in.
  6. Remove painter's tape.
  7. Smooth caulk again.
  8. Clean up.

11 thoughts on “How To Recaulk A Bathtub

  1. Gosh, what a great idea for one of my worse ‘love doing this’ jobs. Thank you so much. Simple to follow along and I appreciate this idea. Amazing how osmething as simple as painters tape can be used or various jobs.

  2. Hi, this is actually what I was looking for this. So, I found you with helpful. Thanks for the coming to me at the right time. I need to recaulk my bathtub. Already bookmark this site for future reference. Hope so it will be helpful to me.

  3. This was so helpful! Thanks. I also need to paint my bathroom. Would you suggest painting or caulking the tub first ?

    1. Definitely painting, it’s a lot easier to naturally get a fresh line with caulk vs paint. Also if you are using painter’s tape to ensure your caulk line is straight – it doesn’t bleed under the tape like paint sometimes does.

    1. We actually do not recommend ever caulking around the base of a toilet. You actually “want” to know if water is coming out from the bottom of the toilet because if so you’ll need to fix the leak ASAP. If you do have caulk at the base of your toilet, you can remove it with the steps we showed in this tutorial. Let us know if you have any more questions 🙂

  4. This is perfect! I already fixed my leaking tub faucets and now I’m going to fix some tiles that have fallen. Then I’ll re-grout in a few places that need it and caulk around the tub inside and out. I’m also installing a new toilet. I love being retired! Lol

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