How to Remove Caulk with Caulk Softener

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kathzap@yahoo.com
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Q:

I want to recaulk my bathtub.  How do I remove the old and deteriorating caulk so I can start fresh? 

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Replacing caulk in a tub or shower is a fairly easy DIY project that will go a long way in preserving the clean look of your bathroom.  There is nothing more gross than seeing dirty, moldy and mildewy caulk in a tub or shower.  To do this properly, you have to remove the old caulk completely, because once mold and mildew take hold on caulk, it is nearly impossible to get rid of it completely without removing the old caulk. 

First, you'll want to soften the old caulk to make it easy to remove.  You can do this with a caulk softener.  There are several brands on the market, for example DAP makes one.  Follow the directions on the tube.  There is also a scraping tool available that can help remove the old caulk. 

Once that is all removed, you'll want to clean with bleach to make sure you don't have any mold or mildew hiding that will take hold on the NEW caulk.  After that, you can recaulk the area.  Use a caulk with Microban that will inhibit new mold growth.

Two important tips for this project - first, make sure that you let the caulk cure for a good 24-48 hours before using the tub or shower.  And a good tip to make sure the caulk stays put is to fill a tub with water BEFORE  caulking and drain it after an hour or so.  The water will "weigh down" the tub.  If you caulk an empty tub, the first time you fill it and get in, that caulk will have to stretch to accomodate the give that occurs, which can weaken it. 

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