So you’re ready to seal that bathroom up with bathroom caulk? That’s great news! But unless you’ve done it before, chances are, you don’t even know where to start. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with a complete guide.
We’ll go over the dangers of bathroom bacteria, a simple walkthrough on grouting, and finally, everything you need to know about bathroom caulk. It may sound daunting, but it’s much easier than you think.
Bacteria In The Bathroom
Before we get started, we need to talk about a crucial factor. There are many kinds of bacteria in the bathroom. The most common type of bacteria found on tile is called Serratia marcescens. It’s a pink, slimy substance found in showers.
It won’t cause any fatalities, but it can cause lung, immune system, and urinary tract problems. Because of this, when laying tile, it’s important to keep it clean at all times. If you find any discoloration or slime, it means you need to clean even more!
If you want chemical-free ways to clean your tile, check out this awesome homemade recipe to clean your bathroom tile.
Grout Before Caulk
If you know how to lay tile, then good for you! You’ve just saved a lot of money in labor costs. If you don’t know how to lay tile, then try hiring someone to teach you how. The most important thing is to lay the mortar/mastic evenly.
If you can do that, all that you have to worry about is making sure you add spacers every four to six inches. Or, two on every side. The larger the spacer, the more grout you’ll need, but with big tiles, you don’t want to put them too close together.
While laying tile is difficult, adding grout isn’t. The hardest part is keeping it clean, both while you’re piping it and after. The most common way to pipe grout isn’t even piping it. You can use a trowel to do it.
When you do, make sure that every hole and gap is filled. About every square foot or so, you will want to make sure that you wipe down the tile well without saturating the grout. You do not want the tile to dry with grout on it.
If your problem is finding the right tile design to suit your personality, get inspired with these gorgeous tile designs.
What Is Caulk?
The “grout” that goes around the edges of your tile is different than the grout that goes in between the tiles. The outer grout is often called caulk. Caulk can refer to various things, but in this case, we’re talking about bathroom tile caulk.
Caulk’s main purpose is to seal, insulate, and keep surfaces gap-free. It’s not simply for use on tile, but also for filling small gaps around the home. If the gaps are too large, you’ll want to use something like spray foam, which is perfect for gaps larger than half an inch.
However, if the gap is in drywall, you may want to use “mud” to fill it. This is a completely different method and requires a drywall kit for gaps.
Your first instinct may be to pick a white caulk to make your bathroom look pristine. But you should know that white caulk is very difficult to keep clean, especially in the bathroom. This is why most people prefer to go with a gray or off-white caulk.
If you’re still not sure which color of caulk you want, check out these common caulk colors:
Pure White: White is tough to keep clean, but if you bleach it every day, it will look amazing.
Silver: Silver is usually a light gray color with a shimmer. It is great for those who want a bright neutral color like white without the upkeep.
Stone: Stone is a natural gray color that is usually darker than silver. This color can also be called slate, pewter, and dark gray.
Ivory: Ivory is an off-white color with a reddish tint. It brings warmth to a normally stark white bathroom.
Beige: Beige is a soft brown that is very popular. It merges well with other colors and makes a pretty grout or caulk.
Terra Cotta: Terra cotta is a pretty red clay color. It works well with red or brown tile and in rustic or Hispanic homes.
Coffee: Coffee is a darker brown, often almost black. It’s a great warm yet dark color.
Colored: Any bright color is risky. Most aren’t too difficult to keep clean, but when used, they will definitely be the highlight of your bathroom.
Now that you’ve laid your tile, added grout, and chosen a caulk, it’s time to start caulk. It is definitely easier than it looks, and there’s plenty of room for mistakes. If you’ve ever used a piping bag for decorating a cake, you’ve got this licked.
If you haven’t, don’t worry, you can practice on a paper plate or cardboard first to get the hang of piping. After that, you can try it for real. Messes are common; just make sure you clean them up immediately so they won’t dry on and become more permanent.
After piping the caulk, you can run your finger over the edge to eliminate excess grout. If you don’t want to do this, you can use a thin, non-textured cloth or rounded tool to help with the mess. They make tools for this purpose, but most workers forgo them.
Wearing gloves isn’t a bad idea for this part either; make sure that if you do, remove them before the grout dries unless you want a mess on your hands. Literally!
If you notice that the stream is too large, then you’ve cut the hole too big. If the stream is bubbling and causing a mess, you’ve probably cut it too small. Mistakes like these are why you should always have an extra tube on hand.
Even if you buy three or four extra cans, it’s better than not having enough. You can always return what you don’t use if you keep the receipt and don’t open them until you’re ready to add them to the gun.
Matching grout and caulk isn’t always easy. Your best bet is to get the same brand of both so you can use the same color code to find the match. But if this isn’t possible, bring the grout label into the store with you.
Most home improvement stores usually have someone whose job is to match colors for people. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in and out in fifteen minutes.
Silicone Vs. Caulk
Those without any experience renovating bathrooms or using bathroom caulk probably don’t know the difference between silicone and caulk. You’d hate to grab one when you really wanted the other without even know it.
Both caulk and silicone are considered sealants. A lot of caulks are silicone-based, but they still aren’t the same as pure silicone. One of the biggest cosmetic differences is that you can’t paint over silicone.
However, the biggest utility difference is that caulk doesn’t expand with the materials around it, while silicone does. So if you have floors or walls that are prone to movement, cracking, or swelling, then silicone is your best bet.
If you’re using the sealant in the bathroom, caulk is great. But if you’re moving outside or to more unpredictable areas, you will want to use silicone. Silicone is binding, while the caulk is simply for filling.
Where To Use Bathroom Caulk
One of the first places you’ll want to caulk is the ceiling. You can match the ceiling or the grout with this one, but most people prefer to match the ceiling. If you get two different caulk colors, use the lighter one on the ceiling to create a better transition.
There will be at least one line where the tile meets the walls, but likely two. You will want to make sure this is sealed well so that no water escapes the shower or trickles behind the tile and allows mildew to build up.
Another important place to caulk is by the window. Even if you don’t tile there, adding caulk to any gaps is a great idea. This will help heat and cool your bathroom as well as add protection from the weather.
This is also a good place to use that silicone since it seals the outdoors from the indoors. Silicone is more weatherproof and better to subject to different temperatures.
This one is easy to forget, so add it to your checklist. Even if it doesn’t look like it needs it, add caulk along the baseboard’s edge. If there is a gap on the floor, add caulk there, too, while you’re at it to prevent critters from sneaking in.
If the gap is too large, then you can use spray foam to fill it, which is a great thing to keep on hand. Just know that spray foam can often only be used once as it hardens and the nozzle can become clogged.
The Finished Project
The last thing you’ll do when caulking is clean the tile, ground, and caulk. Do this once lightly before it dries and then again after it dries. Afterward, you’ll use soapy water to make sure everything is in tiptop shape.
Then you’re good to go! Check the box or can to make sure you wait long enough. If it says to wait 48 hours before using it, then wait for 54, to be safe. After all, you don’t want all that hard work to be for nothing!
Pat yourself on the back because you just caulked your bathroom like a pro. There’s a reason they call construction jobs fulfilling. Just imagine feeling like this every day!