Tip #7: Remove soap scum and grime from the surface before you remove the old caulk.
You might want to save time by doing all the cleaning at the same time — after removing the old caulk or grout. But there is a good reason to do the cleaning in two phases. There is often a lot of soap scum on bathroom shower tiles. It's important that it all be cleaned from the surfaces that the new caulk must adhere to. This will take not only lots of elbow grease, but lots of water. If the old caulk or grout has already been removed, then this water will saturate the surfaces behind the tile and you will have to wait until it dries.
So scrub those shower tiles clean when the old caulk or grout is still in place. Rinse well with clear water and then dry the surface completely. A dry surface is critical when applying the new caulk.
Tip #8: Kill any mildew that remains with an inexpensive bleach formula.
Mix 3 quarts of warm water with 1 quart of liquid chlorine bleach. Add 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent and mix well. Apply this solution with a sponge or a spray bottle. Use lots of clear water to rinse well.
Make sure you have adequate ventilation, and wear gloves and eye protection when you use this solution.
Tip #9: Your favorite home improvement store has products to make removing old caulk much easier.
The most difficult and timeconsuming portion of this project is the removal of the old caulk or grout. Unfortunately if you are removing grout, then nothing but old-fashioned elbow grease will do the job — although there are some tools that will make it easier. Ask about them at your local home improvement store.
If the old material is caulk, then you are in luck. There are several products that can help. Try to figure out whether the old caulk is silicone, PVC or latex. If it's still somewhat soft and pliable, then it's probably silicone. Ask at the home improvement center which caulk remover will work for you. Three common ones are 3M Caulk Remover, Dap Caulk-Be-Gone, McKanica Silicone Caulk Remover Gel.
Use the product according to the manufacturer's instructions, It will probably require leaving it on for some time to soften the old caulking. All the time needed to do this step will be worth it when you enjoy your newly caulked bathroom shower tiles.
Tip #10: Your second cleaning step uses alcohol, not water.
After you have removed all the old caulk or grout, vacuum any debris from the spaces between the tiles. Vacuum the shower tile surfaces too to remove all the dust. Now wipe the surface with denatured alcohol. If you used water at this point, you would be getting the now empty joints between the tile wet. It could take hours for it to dry. It's absolutely necessary that the area be completely dry before applying the new caulk.
Make sure there is no mildew inside the joints where the old caulk has been removed. Unfortunately, if you find any mildew, you will have to use the bleach formula again. Spray it into the spaces between the shower tiles. It's important to kill all the mildew. Any mildew left will continue to grow and spread to the wood and drywall and can cause serious damage. It will also damage the new caulk.
Tip #11: Use a hair dryer to hasten the drying process.
If the old caulk or grout had a lot of damage, then the surfaces behind the shower tiles may be quite damp. It will be necessary for it to dry completely before applying the new caulk to the shower tiles. You can use a hair dryer to speed things up, but be careful that you haven't just dried the surface, leaving damp material underneath. It may be necessary for the area to air dry for several days.
Tip #12: When applying caulk — less is more.
Re-caulking your bathroom shower tiles is a timeconsuming project. You don't want to make it any more difficult than necessary. If you apply too much caulking, then the cleanup process is more difficult. You want to apply only a narrow bead of caulk. To do this, cut only a small opening when you open your caulk tube. Experiment a bit. Make the opening larger if necessary, but it's better to lay down a small bead and then add a bit more, than to make a nasty mess.
You can also tape both sides of each joint so that any excess spills over onto the tape. But this isn't usually necessary unless there is a big contrast in the color of the caulk and the shower tile.
Make sure you completely fill the joints between the shower tiles with the caulk. Go back and fill in any spots that you missed. Then lightly press the caulk into the joint with your slightly moistened finger. Don't leave any air pockets. Once the caulk develops a "skin," it can't be smoothed, so work a small area at a time.
Let it cure overnight (or according to the product directions).
Tip #13: Enjoy the fruit of you labor.
Congratulations! You caulked your bathroom shower tiles and they look great.