Home maintenance projects sneak up on you. Like with mold and mildew. I recently watched it sneak right up into the 'need-to-stop-ignoring-it' category of things that I needed to tackle around my house.
The sealant on one of our showers finally bothered me enough I had to do something about it.
Beautiful Wabi-Sabi artwork? Nope. Just a gross shower.
A restoration pro explained to me that all homes have some amount of mold growing inside them. The problem comes when there is too much of it (or if it's the really bad kind of mold). The shower is a particularly popular place for mold to grow since the environment there is ideal for it to thrive so it's no wonder the bathroom is such a common place to see the problem come to life.
Some easy preventative ways to stop mold from taking over include squeegee-ing glass and wiping solid surfaces dry each time they're wet as well as routine cleaning. But even with precautions, replacing caulk in your home is something most homeowners will end up doing eventually.
Here's my preferred way to do this annoying chore (I try to make the process as easy as possible).
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Scrape away the old caulk. This can be labor intense, especially if you're covering a big area or using a dull blade, so be sure to keep a sharp blade on your razor or tool and work in sections. Do your best to take care not to scratch the areas around the caulk while you scrape. A tool like this can help you keep the scraping area to a minimum, or you can do I like I did and just use a traditional razor scraper with lots of extra blades. I'm telling you, a sharp blade makes all the difference.
Once you have all of the caulk removed, give everything a good cleaning with bleach or another mold-killing solvent. I used a bleach pen to keep the mess to a minimum-they're perfectly sized for the area you'll need to treat. Just put a coat of it on, let it sit, and then rinse it off. Here are a few bleach cleaning options. Give a light scrub with a cloth while rinsing too since that will make apparent any rough areas where you may have missed all the caulk (this is a good step not to skip especially if you're working with clear caulk).
Let everything dry. Once it's rinsed, don't just caulk right over it. The caulk won't seal correctly and you'll be trapping water beneath it if you don't allow sufficient dry time. I gave mine overnight just to be safe.
Caulking is an acquired skill and I have not yet fully acquired it. That's why I do everything in my power to make the process as fool-proof as possible.
I was baffled at how easy one of our contractors made it look one day and asked for tips. First, he assured me that it takes years to perfect the skill of making it look easy. And second, he told me to lay tape down on each side of the sealant line just like when painting so that the excess bleed can be pulled up once it starts to dry a little bit (great advice!).
I also found this to be a saving grace. I hate caulk guns. I think it's because of the excess that continues flowing after each squeeze combined with having to find a long nail to puncture the tube with each time. This caulk was a lot cleaner and easier to squeeze. I do wish the cap allowed for a narrower line of flow- I really only needed a small bead of caulk and the minimum flow on this was a little heavy for my project. Next time I will cut the tip off higher than it suggests to.
You can use a tool to finish your line with or you can use your finger. Keep lots of paper towels and a bowl of water handy for this part! Once you're satisfied with the look of things, go ahead and pull your tape up. Don't let the caulk dry too much before taking off the tape.
Let It Dry Completely
All there is left to do is steer clear of your new caulk for a while. Let it dry sufficiently and then do your best to prolong the life of your new sealant!