As far as I know, all of the bathrooms in our new house are original to the house, which was built in 1991. Most of them were done in pretty neutral colors, so while the tub and sink fixtures look dated, the tile is all in pretty good condition and we’re planning to live with the bathrooms as they are for at least a few years before making major updates.
The guest bath has white tile on the shower walls and floor and the tile and grout are both in great shape. But when I first laid eyes on this bathroom I barely even noticed the tile because my eyes immediately went to the black along the edge between the shower walls and the bathtub.
It wasn’t until I looked at the rest of the bathroom a little more closely that I realized it was just the black nastiness that was giving the bathroom that old, dirty feel. And I knew I could take 20 years off the bathroom’s appearance just by re-caulking.
If you have a similar situation in your house, you can give your whole bathroom a facelift in just three easy steps:
- Scrape off the old caulk.
- Spray the seam between the tub and walls with a bleach and water solution.
- Apply new caulk to the seam.
And here’s a list of the simple materials you need to get the job done:
- Double-sided caulk tool (one side for scarping old caulk off and one side for smoothing new caulk)
- Spray bottle
- Silicone caulks (made especially for showers and tubs)
- Caulk gun
- Paper towels
I’ll break it down for you in a little more detail now so you can really see the process.
Use the sharp side of the double-headed caulk tool to scrape out the old, icky caulk. It can be stubborn in spots, but you just scrape away and pull the strings off with your hands (or needlenose pliers).
The tub will be filled with nasty old caulk – I just left it all there until I was finished, then swept and vacuumed it all up.
Still pretty brown, but better already!
Next I mixed up a 50-50 bleach and water solution in a spray bottle and sprayed the seam where the caulk was to kill any mold/mildew/general grossness. I let it sit for fifteen minutes, then rinsed with water and let it dry overnight to be sure the surface was completely dry.
The next day I used a caulk gun to apply white caulk – make sure you get the silicone kind for showers! You squeeze a long bead of caulk along that edge between the shower walls and bathtub and then smooth it flat with the smooth end of the double-sided caulk tool. You can use your finger to smooth too but silicone is very sticky and I find the tool a lot easier to use. Have some paper towels nearby for wiping excess.
Make sure there are no gaps or all that yuckiness will start to build up again. You want the edge to be completely sealed.
I expected the tub to look better but even I was surprised at how MUCH better it looked.
I’d like to update the bath fixtures at some point, but this easy refresh made such a tremendous difference, I don’t feel the need to rush into any big changes anytime soon.
New houses bring all kinds of issues – we’re dealing with a majorly leaky roof right now – so it sure is nice when an update is as easy as a new bottle of caulk and thirty minutes!