Caulking your shower keeps your bathroom looking clean, helps avoid mold and mildew build-up, and seriously reduces the risk of leaks. In general, showers should be caulked once per year, though you may have to do it more or less frequently depending on the type of caulk you use and how well you apply it.
Whether you’re remodeling or trying to keep your home in its best condition, continue reading to learn the best methods and tools for caulking a shower.
What Are the Tools and Supplies Needed To Caulk a Shower?
Caulking a shower requires various tools to remove the previous caulk effectively and apply the new protective layer. The two most essential tools are a utility knife and the caulk itself. Fortunately, the rest of the tools may be items you already have in your toolbox or around the house.
Below are the supplies you must have ready before you begin caulking:
- Caulk: The caulk you use can be made of silicone, latex, or both, but it must be suitable for bathroom surfaces.
- Utility knife: Most universal utility knives and oscillating tools should be durable and thin enough to remove previous shower caulk, though other tools may be necessary for tougher caulk or tight corners.
- Mold remover: A spray-on cleaner is often necessary if you find mold or mildew within the previous caulk, though you can also use a homemade mixture containing water and bleach if you have no cleaner on hand.
- Painter’s tape: Ensure you have enough tape to go around each crack, gap, and joint at least twice and that the tape won’t damage the shower’s surface.
- Scissors: Scissors should be sharp and precise enough to cut through the caulk tube’s tip.
- Disposable gloves: Getting caulk on your skin isn’t necessarily a safety hazard, but it can be annoying, uncomfortable, and time-consuming to remove. Disposable nitrile gloves will keep your hands protected and clean.
- Paper towels and/or rags: Keep these within reach throughout the entire process for fast, seamless cleanup.
The following tools aren’t always required for applying caulk but can make the process easier and may be necessary for more challenging projects:
- Caulk gun: While not necessary, caulk guns are relatively affordable, help keep the caulk off your skin, and improve precision.
- Putty knife: A dependable putty knife can help remove the excess caulk that’s already loose or crumbling, ensuring you don’t always have to use the utility knife and risk leaving marks around your tub and tiles.
- Ripping chisel: Small chisels can help remove the previous caulk that’s too tough for standard utility knives, though they aren’t suitable for smaller cracks.
- Bush hammer: A hammer can help remove any previous caulk that just won’t budge, especially when paired with a chisel.
- Electric sander: A sander can remove excess caulk around joint faces after most of the caulk has already been removed, typically as a finishing touch.
- Caulk remover: Usually sold in spray bottles, caulk remover may be necessary to weaken stronger patches. Before purchasing, ensure the remover is safe for bathroom surfaces to avoid damaging your shower.
Top Five Best Brands of Shower Caulk
Before selecting a shower caulk brand, consider whether you want silicone or latex caulk. Silicone is generally more durable yet harder to work with, whereas latex is better for beginners and usually less expensive. That said, many people prefer to use caulk that contains both silicone and latex formulas for the best versatility and results.
Before purchasing, double-check the product’s label to ensure it’s suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. Below are what we believe are the five best brands of shower caulk:
1. Gorilla Clear 100% Sealant Caulk
This caulk is an all-around tool for plumbing, kitchens, windows, and countless other home products. Its silicone formula gives it a nearly unbreakable strength, it’s highly resistant to mold and mildew, and it generally dries in just 30 minutes. Regardless of whether you use it for your shower, Gorilla’s clear caulk is an ideal tool to have on hand.
2. Sashco 13010 Clear Adhesive Caulk And Sealant
Sashco’s adhesive caulk and sealant product is one of the best caulking options without silicone. Its complex formula allows it to be used in extreme temperatures, such as high heat and freezing cold, and even on wet surfaces, though you should still generally wait for surfaces to dry anyways.
3. Red Devil 0405 Siliconized Acrylic Caulk
This caulking solution is known for its watertight seal and crisp adhesion, which is important for larger cracks and frequent mildew build-up. Plus, it has a good-looking high-gloss finish that can easily be painted over to keep your bathroom and kitchen surfaces up to your style.
4. GE Momentive Performance Advanced Silicone Sealant
This crackproof caulk works seamlessly on most ceramic, laminate, porcelain, glass, plastic, granite, wood, and metal surfaces without leaving blemishes, making it ideal for countless home projects. Its formula is made from 100% silicone and is usually dry and water-ready within the same day as application. Plus, its lasting protection should keep you and your showered mold and mildew-free for up to seven years.
5. DAP Kwik Seal Plus White Premium Caulk
DAP’s Kwik Seal Plus is one of the most affordable yet dependable caulking solutions available. It’s crackproof, waterproof, and paintable for various uses, and its impressive silicone formula helps fight mold, mildew, and other stains. And it works great with most caulk guns and can be combined with the company’s DAP cap for easier, more precise application.
How To Remove Old Shower Caulk
Working over previous layers of caulk can lead to cracks and damage due to an uneven surface. Additionally, previous layers may contain mold or mildew you should remove before adding a new seal, so removing as much caulk as possible before adding more is crucial.
Use a sharp utility knife to dig into any cracks, gaps, and joints containing caulk to remove it, but be careful not to damage the rest of the surface in the process. A putty knife can help remove excess caulk at the tops of surfaces without risking damage. Take your time scraping and removing individual strips until you have removed as much of the caulk as possible.
Keep an eye out for any mold or mildew build-up as you go. Use a cleaner to remove the mold and clean the surface thoroughly. Note where the mold was located to ensure you give it a better seal this time, as those specific gaps may be more vulnerable to water leaks.
Depending on what type of caulk was used last time, some sections may need more than a utility knife to be thoroughly cleaned out. Use a ripping chisel, bush hammer, or caulk remover for more demanding sections. While some previous caulk deeper in the gaps can be ignored, you should remove anything that could get in the way of your new layer.
Finally, clear off all excess caulk and consider using a sander to smooth rougher cracks and joints. Clear off the surface using water and double-check your work before allowing the surface to dry.
How Do You Prepare a Shower Surface for New Caulk?
First, thoroughly clean the shower and tub’s surface to ensure no dirt, grime, or hair gets in your way and that all previous caulk has been removed. Then, wait for the surface to dry completely before applying the new layer — caulk will not stick to wet surfaces, so waiting is essential. To ensure you don’t miss anything later, take this time to reexamine the area for all cracks and gaps, including along the walls and door.
Once the surface is completely dry, apply long strips of painter’s tape around the areas you plan to fill. Take your time masking as much of the surface on both sides of the gaps as possible, and consider adding multiple layers for more sensitive areas. Also, consider adding tape anywhere the caulk may fall, such as at the bottom of the tub or along the ground. This will ensure the results look clean and professional and save you from removing excess caulk later.
Finally, carefully cut the tube tip above the indentation point to prepare the caulk. Don’t cut too much off, as a larger hole will result in thicker caulk lines, which can look sloppy and result in wasted material. The safest method is to cut as close to the tip as possible and repeat as needed if the hole isn’t big enough — you can always make the gap wider, but you can’t make it thinner without buying a brand-new tube. Additionally, cutting the tube at an angle can improve the application if you don’t widen the hole in the process.
How To Apply Shower Caulk: Pro Tips
Hold the caulk tube firmly against the crack, gap, or joint you want to fill at a 90-degree angle, ensuring the hole at the tube’s tip does not exceed the opening size. Then, squeeze the caulk out of the tube until you’ve released just enough to fill the area before moving along the rest of the gap in a steady, forward motion. Once you’ve started filling a section, avoid removing the tube as much as possible — instead, fill the entire gap at once for the cleanest, most consistent results.
Many professionals and homeowners prefer using caulk guns rather than holding the tube by hand. Caulk guns are relatively affordable and latch around the body of the tube. This way, you always have somewhere firm to hold and can pull the gun’s trigger rather than squeeze the tube along every inch to release the gel.
Shortly after applying caulk, you should “tool” each section you’ve covered. To do this, get your finger wet and gently drag it along the crevices you’ve filled to pick up any excess caulk. This must be done before the caulk dries, so don’t wait until the end if you have a larger project. After tooling, remove the painter’s tape to ensure no caulk gets pulled out and no tape gets stuck.
The best option is to take each section one at a time — applying, tooling, and removing tape — to ensure nothing dries over and that every crack receives equitable care. Rushing can cause the caulk to crack sooner and rarely looks good, so taking your time and not skipping steps is critical. Once you’ve finished, give the shower at least 24 hours to dry before using it — unless the caulk you used specifies a longer dry time.
How To Clean Shower Caulk and Keep it Mildew Free
Frequent cleaning of your shower’s caulk is critical for its longevity and to avoid mildew and mold growth. Fortunately, most bathroom cleaners, such as chlorine bleach, are entirely safe to use on caulk, so keeping your caulk clean shouldn’t require much extra work.
As you clean the rest of the shower, use a toothbrush, soft-bristle brush, or even the tip of your finger underneath a rag to scrub the cleaner along the caulk. Look for mold or mildew build-up, and scrub those sections well. Once you’re finished, dry the area using a clean towel and watch for further build-up.
Prepare for Caulking a Shower With HomeKeep
Recaulking your shower is a relatively straightforward process, yet even the slightest mistakes could leave you having to do the job all over again. Before starting any new home project, you should check in with the professionals to learn the best methods, tools, and tips for the best results.
HomeKeep is a home maintenance service app that puts all necessary home maintenance information at your fingertips. This way, the next time you tackle a project, you can quickly double-check you are taking all the proper steps and easily reach out to a professional when needed.
Get started with our 30-day free trial so you never have to keep yourself guessing again.