Posted on: 16.09.2022 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

These unsightly gaps around your shower or bathtub can quickly become more than just eyesores. When the sealant cracks or detaches from the gap, it can lead to water damage behind the tiles or the tub surround. These leaks result in loose tiles, water damage to the flooring, and possibly even structural damage due to moisture decay.

By understanding why the sealant cracks or separates from the joint, you often know how to repair the sealant to avoid cracks and separations. Sealing around a bathtub or shower is typically the result of one or more of these factors.

  • Using the wrong sealant
  • Inadequate surface preparation
  • Bending or movement in the wall or floor of the tub or shower.

Repairing a poor seal or sealing a new tile or tub surround installation doesn’t have to be a major project. With proper execution, you can seal an entire tub or shower enclosure in just a few hours, including preparation and cleaning time. Following a few simple steps, using the right materials, and having the right tools are the keys to a successful sealing repair.

About Sealants

When you walk down the caulking aisle at your local hardware store, the selection in front of you can be overwhelming. Don’t despair. Your options should be clear, but to understand the options, let’s look at the sealing options.

  • Latex Sealant – One of the most durable sealing materials on the market. For indoor work where surfaces move minimally and are not exposed to extreme temperatures such as heat, cold, or water, you should use latex sealant.
  • Acrylic Latex Caulk – Acrylic caulk is often called painter’s caulk and is the choice of professional painters when it comes to preparing surfaces for paint. Painters use acrylic sealant to seal gaps, fill holes, and create tight, paintable joints. Cleanup is easy with water and soap. Acrylic seals are used indoors and outdoors but can be damaged by sunlight and water if not painted.
  • Vinyl Latex Sealant – Vinyl latex seals are similar to acrylic seals but tend to be more durable. The surfaces to be sealed with vinyl latex sealant should be tight and have minimal movement since vinyl latex sealant is not very flexible and can crack after curing.
  • Silicone Sealant – 100% silicone seals are among the most popular seals found in hardware stores. Silicone is extremely flexible and durable when fully cured and is waterproof. Silicone adheres to almost any surface, making it ideal for bridging different materials. The downside is that you can’t paint 100% silicone. Silicone sealant is the choice of most professionals when sealing joints in tub or shower enclosures.

These are the main types of seals that you will find at your local hardware store. There are various brands and manufacturers, but overall their products are comparable. You might find some other specialized types of seals in small quantities, but these are for very limited types of projects.

Choosing the Right Sealant for the Job

Unfortunately, many homeowners looking to beautify their bathrooms will buy the cheapest tube of sealant that the hardware store has on offer. This choice is usually acrylic latex sealant, and while it may be superior for certain jobs, in a wet environment or with bending or movement in the joint, it can become a darker failure.

Using 100% silicone sealant for tub or shower enclosures is a better choice. Until a few years ago, you could only get clear silicone sealant. Now, several manufacturers offer colored silicone seals, which can make your finished sealing work more visually appealing.

Using 100% silicone sealant on your tub or shower enclosure will almost always solve your cracking or separation problems.

Surface Preparation

Often, inadequate or improper surface preparation results in the sealant joint cracking or detaching from the surfaces of the joint. Surface preparation is not complicated, but proper execution can be laborious. In general, you should ensure:

  • If you are resealing a joint in a bathtub or shower, you must remove all the old sealant from both surfaces to achieve proper adhesion of the new sealant.
  • All surfaces to be sealed must be clean and dry. Bathtubs and showers can build up a film of old soap and water deposits that prevent even the best sealant from forming a good watertight joint.
  • Repair any damaged or loose tiles before sealing the bathtub or shower enclosure, including addressing any structural damage caused by water leakage. Also, address any issues if the tub surround is a kit and is yielding or giving at the connection points.

How Do You Create the Sealant Joint?

First, patience is key. Don’t try to rush. It’s better to work slowly and carefully. Experienced sealers can execute perfect seams at seemingly incredible speed. That takes years of practice. It’s better to spend a little extra time than end up with sloppy sealant joints that won’t last long. A few tips and tricks will help you create perfect joints.

  • Tape off your seams – Professional tile layers and painters can execute a straight and proper seam and leave clean edges. To achieve this type of seam, you can use green painter’s tape to tape off your seams. You should leave 1/8 to 3/16 inch gap on each side of the sealant joint. The goal is a sealant joint that is 1/4 to 3/8 inch wide.
  • Make your tube opening small – When cutting the tube opening, keep the tip opening small. A smaller tip is easier to control and prevents excess sealant from accumulating on the tip and in the sealant joint.
  • Have enough paper towels on hand – You will use a lot of paper towels to keep your hands clean and ensure that the tip of your sealant tube is clean.
  • Pushing or dragging – The debate rages on whether it’s best to push the tube across the seam or drag it down the seam. Both methods work. It’s a matter of preference.
  • Finishing the sealant joint – When the entire length of the sealant joint is finished, dress the joint by running your fingertip over the length of the sealant joint. This leaves a clean and attractive concave finish on the sealant and removes any excess.
  • Use the paper towel – Wipe your finger and the tip of your sealant tube and proceed to the next sealant joint.
  • Remove the tape – It’s best to remove the tape before the silicone sealant begins to cure. This ensures that you have sharp, straight edges and that you won’t pull the new sealant out of the joint when trying to remove the tape.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations – Silicone needs to cure before being exposed to water or moisture. Follow the recommendations on the sealant tube and allow the silicone to cure sufficiently before enjoying that renovated bathtub or shower.

The Aftermath

A properly executed silicone joint should last many years without any issues. The appearance of fresh sealant with straight, uniform seams can enhance the beauty of your bathtub or shower enclosure. Caulking these seams is one of the little things we always do when preparing a house to go on the market.

So take your time, use the right material on a properly prepared surface, and follow our tips, and you can create professionally looking sealant joints that won’t crack or separate.

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