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Old 12-07-2011, 03:47 AM   #1
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Tile to tub problems.

I'll try and make this short, so you'll actually read it. I moved into a remodeled house recently that has a new bathroom. The original contractor's tile/grout/bathroom guy installed tile around the bathtub, and grouted where the tub meets the tile. It started cracking after about 3 months so I called the contractor, and he sent out a different guy who really had no clue what the hell he was doing. He reomved the grout and replaced it with a cheap caulking, doing really shitty job too. Of course, the caulking became moldy and gross looking very soon.
So, my questions are, what can I use to remove the old caulking without damaging the tile? Do I have to worry about water flowing through the space there, and ruining the wall or tile, etc? What should I use to replace the caulking? Will the clear silicone work? I'm looking for something easy to apply that will stay at least fairly clean. Thanks is advance.
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Old 12-07-2011, 04:53 AM   #2
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At a Home Depot or Lowes you can find a caulk removing tool. It's basically just a plastic piece with a hook looking thing on the end. If you're careful, you can remove it with a utility knife and a putty knife (careful scraping on your tile). Caulking is the best bet for the base where the tile meets the tub. Look for a caulking that is specifically made for that purpose and it should resist mold growth. He may have not used the correct caulking when he installed it. Also, caulking color makes no difference, you can probably find caulking in white, tan, gray and clear so pick the one that matches the best. Before applying the caulking, strip the old out, clean the area well and make sure it is dry. If you can, let it sit for a day or two without water to make sure it dries, then apply your new caulking. You can get caulking joint 'tools' so you can get a consistant joint or just went your finger and run it down the caulk to make a nice, rounded joint. You can not leave this joint open because water will get behind the tub and cause all sorts of problems.
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:23 AM   #3
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You can get sanded caulking from Mapei that is matched to their grout colours . I would use that .
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OZ-T View Post
You can get sanded caulking from Mapei that is matched to their grout colours . I would use that .
this^^^^^^^^ get that old crap out and use sanded caulk
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:50 AM   #5
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Its not a good idea to just have caulk waterproof your wall surround to the tub. There should be a lip around the tub that the wall laps and keeps the water from leaking. Caulk will help but caulk is not permanent.
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Old 12-07-2011, 08:11 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by mr2r6 View Post
Its not a good idea to just have caulk waterproof your wall surround to the tub. There should be a lip around the tub that the wall laps and keeps the water from leaking. Caulk will help but caulk is not permanent.
Presumably that is there behind the tile , it is after all part of the tub
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Old 12-07-2011, 08:54 AM   #7
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The best luck that I've had in dealing with this condition is with POLYSEAMSEAL caulking products.
I've had other popular caulking products side-by-side and POLYSEAMSEAL would consistently have the most resistance to mildew.

Their Tub & Tile ULTRA is the closest to their excellent, original formulation.
For best performance, wipe down the tile after each use and maintain ventilation.
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:01 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies, I figured a caulking would be best, i just don't know the type to use, acrylic, latex, etc. The clear silicone that runs around the shower door seems like it holds up very well, and is mildew resistant too, but it would probably look funny in that gap. I am going to try and find the Mapei stuff.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:03 AM   #9
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It is necessary to have a slight gap (about 1/8"-1/4") above the tub where it meets the tile to allow for settling/shifting or the tiles may come loose or crack down the road.

Flexible caulking is the best material to seal the gap as mentioned above. I have not tried sanded caulking so I can't advise you on that. I find that acrylic caulking tends to mildew faster than high quality silicone. However, acrylic is easier to clean up during the install procedure.

Silicone can be messy if you have not used it before. As mentioned above you can get a tool to make a clean edge, but I have not tried it. I have a feeling that it might get messy. Other options are putting 2 lengths of masking tape to delineate each edge of the caulked joint, or just running a consistent bead of silicone and smoothing it after with a wetted finger (saliva works well, but don't lick your finger with silicone on it- probably poisonous and leaves a film on your tongue (lol). The key is running a consistent bead the whole length of the tub. If you have to stop a lot it will make an uneven bead.

Typically beginners lay too thick of a bead and then have trouble smoothing it down. Have lots- I mean lots of paper towels handy to clean up any spills or smears. Remember that if you leave the caulking gun under tension when you put it down, it will continue to ooze. Use the best mildew resistant caulking around. No point in scrimping here- you will have to recaulk a few years earlier. I have used GE Silicone- comes in 3 grades- get the best grade if using this product.
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OZ-T View Post
You can get sanded caulking from Mapei that is matched to their grout colours . I would use that .
Quote:
Originally Posted by pudge151 View Post
this^^^^^^^^ get that old crap out and use sanded caulk
He can use unsanded too if its smaller than 1/8 gap.
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OZ-T View Post
You can get sanded caulking from Mapei that is matched to their grout colours . I would use that .
Sanded caulking? Cool.

Another tip is to fill the tub before you caulk and keep it filled until the caulk cures. If there is any movement in the tub it wont be disturbed the first time someone fills the tub, again leading to the water problems suggested above.
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:01 PM   #13
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On a similar note: who pulls and who pushes?
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:18 PM   #14
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if the tub is moving, there are other issues. the chalking really is just a moisture barrier. most of the protection is really that lip, and a proper tiling job.

i tried sanded chalk, and it formed small cracks the first time i hit it with that foaming tub cleaner. i cut it out, and bought the most expensive, mold resistant stuff i could find. it is still clean looking now. been about 4 months.
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 84Hilux View Post
It is necessary to have a slight gap (about 1/8"-1/4") above the tub where it meets the tile to allow for settling/shifting or the tiles may come loose or crack down the road.

Flexible caulking is the best material to seal the gap as mentioned above. I have not tried sanded caulking so I can't advise you on that. I find that acrylic caulking tends to mildew faster than high quality silicone. However, acrylic is easier to clean up during the install procedure.

Silicone can be messy if you have not used it before. As mentioned above you can get a tool to make a clean edge, but I have not tried it. I have a feeling that it might get messy. Other options are putting 2 lengths of masking tape to delineate each edge of the caulked joint, or just running a consistent bead of silicone and smoothing it after with a wetted finger (saliva works well, but don't lick your finger with silicone on it- probably poisonous and leaves a film on your tongue (lol). The key is running a consistent bead the whole length of the tub. If you have to stop a lot it will make an uneven bead.

Typically beginners lay too thick of a bead and then have trouble smoothing it down. Have lots- I mean lots of paper towels handy to clean up any spills or smears. Remember that if you leave the caulking gun under tension when you put it down, it will continue to ooze. Use the best mildew resistant caulking around. No point in scrimping here- you will have to recaulk a few years earlier. I have used GE Silicone- comes in 3 grades- get the best grade if using this product.
Very informative, thanks. It's funny, because I was planning on doing everything you mentioned. The thick bead of silicone, etc. And the previous guy used a very cheap, acrylic style caulk that hasn't even been on for six months and already has a lot of mold.
I have a few follow up questions too....

How do I get out the little pieces of caulk that are left in the gap, when I use a blade it sounds like I'm scraping the hell out of the tile.

How long do I have to let it air out before applying the new caulk, and should i use bleach or something to spray in the gap to kill any remaining mildew?
Thank you.
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Old 12-09-2011, 04:46 AM   #16
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Heh heh- I am sharing all the mistakes I have made in the past to try to give you a fighting chance.

I used to work as a plumbing apprentice and watched plumbers do this install- before doing it myself. The plumbers I watched would lay a thin even bead the length of the seam and then lick their finger before gently smoothing the bead.

As I mentioned previously, avoid putting your finger back in your mouth with silicone on it- tastes yucky and leaves a nasty film on your tongue (I am not aware of anyone who has suffered serious health problems from this and I have ingested my fair share with no ill effects ). Some people use a little water, but it is not quite as slippery as spit (don't know if a little soap in the water would work instead- probably). Dip your finger- smooth a section, wipe well with paper towel and then dip again as your finger dries out.

As a beginner, you might want to do this in 3 sections- eg back wall and then 2 sidewalls as you are likely to be slower than a plumber and the silicone may begin to tack up. Work away from the corners as the silicone bunches up in front of your finger as you smooth it. You don't want a pile-up in the corners. I personally don't like using the masking tape- it leaves raised edges as you pull it off.

As for removing the old caulking- there are products available to dissolve old silicone, but I don't know if it works on acrylic. I have always just used a small putty knife and a lot of patience. If your tub is fiberglass, it would be difficult to use a putty knife without scratching it. Porcelain can take a fair bit of abuse.

Mildew will only grow where it is exposed too water. If the gap is dry behind the tub, mildew won't grow there after it is sealed. Also note, there are grout sealers available on the market. They inhibit mildew growth in the grout seams and make cleaning easier when it inevitably does start to gain a foothold.

Hope this helps!
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:07 AM   #17
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if the tub is moving, there are other issues.
If it is visibly moving yes. The tub will expand and shrink and move over time. Thats why you cant use a grout directly up against where the tub meets the tile. It will crack and crumble. Silicon will flex with the subtle movements experienced.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:58 AM   #18
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for tub/tile interface, ..i'd recommend going w/ a quality silicone caulk, like GE silicone kitchen/bath, ..Dap quickseal plus, ..etc,... these usually have a mildew resistance and should be flexibile w/out cracking..

silicone is >> than acrylic/latex, especially for wet areas.. don't use clear, i would use white (assuming the tub is white), because it will conceal uneven edges at the transition, will match tub color, and make it easy to spot any holes/cracks...
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Old 12-24-2011, 11:10 AM   #19
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Hey again gents, I have one more question I'm sure you guys can answer. I had a friend do the seal around the tub for me since I tried twice and messed it up both times, but now I need to re-do the clear silicone that runs along the shower track. I took of the old moldy silicone there, and I tried to run a new bead, but it looks really bad, it's very thin and lumpy looking. The old silicone was a nice, even line. The clear silicone I'm using is pretty watery so after I put the bead, and tried to even it out, it just wipes away. Also, there's no crevice to run it in, it's just along the track of the shower. Any tips?
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Old 12-24-2011, 11:27 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewskie View Post
Hey again gents, I have one more question I'm sure you guys can answer. I had a friend do the seal around the tub for me since I tried twice and messed it up both times, but now I need to re-do the clear silicone that runs along the shower track. I took of the old moldy silicone there, and I tried to run a new bead, but it looks really bad, it's very thin and lumpy looking. The old silicone was a nice, even line. The clear silicone I'm using is pretty watery so after I put the bead, and tried to even it out, it just wipes away. Also, there's no crevice to run it in, it's just along the track of the shower. Any tips?
I HATE silicone caulk so no blessing from me there.

Just tape off both sides of the "bead" (blue tape) and find yourself a tool, like an old butter knife or even a professional caulker's spatula.
You can even make one out of rigid plastic or sheet metal.

Run out a foot or two of caulk and wipe it with your spatula. You HAVE to wipe down to the tape or you will have a mess when you pull the tape !

Carefully pull the tape as soon as your done. If you wait until after cure it may not go so well.

NOTE !
If you've been monkeying with that nasty silicone you may have a super-thin layer that is still there. That will have to be scrubbed out before you do your final, quality bead.
Think single edge razor blade and/or 3M pad.

One of the nasty qualities of silicone is if you have that thin (invisible) layer left behind.....
Later it will pick up dirt, discolor and look like crap.
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