need expert advice:caulking around tub

kristine_caJune 5, 2013

We had our kids' bathroom remodeled a few years back, and after about a year, I noticed the caulk around the edge of the tub (where it meets the tile walls) was slightly gray in a few spots. This was not on the surface, and no mildew cleaner faded it at all. It spread gradually, so eventually I had the guy who'd done the tile work come back and replace the caulking. However, now it's a year later and the caulking not only has a few light gray areas again, all of the caulk seems yellowed, and there are cracks within the caulk itself. The yellowed caulk against my white tile looks pretty bad, and now the edges of those cracks are discoloring (rusty) even further. This obviously got away from me (and apparently the cleaning lady wasn't doing much of a job, but that's another story). My old caulk before the remodel was never this much trouble.

Clearly I need to replace the caulk again, but I do not want this to happen again, so I need to understand what's wrong! A little investigation online points to two possible problems: 1) the wrong caulk was used. and 2) chlorine-bleach products made the caulk yellow. Perhaps the problem is a combo of these two. I don't know about the gray--maybe mildew on the underside if things somehow didn't get dried properly before the work?

So, does it sound like the wrong caulk was used? And can products such as Clorox yellow the caulk? Is that true even if I replace with the "right" caulk? Lastly, DH and I have little to no experience w/caulking. How hard is this to get right for an amateur? I don't want to call the tile guy back since that got me nowhere before, but I'm a little reluctant to undertake the job. Help!

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It's hard to say if you used the wrong caulk, since you don't say what was used. It should be 100% silicone caulk, not "siliconized acrylic" or something to that effect. Did you kill the mold before you re-caulked? If so, what did you use? did you let it dry a few days before caulking? Was the surround adequately waterproofed?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:53AM
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The biggest problem seems to be tile setters not leaving a suitable open line for caulk.

Many routinely just but the tile to the tub leaving no gap for the caulk.

A gap the same size as a grout joint should be left for the caulk.

This post was edited by brickeyee on Wed, Jun 5, 13 at 12:37

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 10:09AM
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Catbuilder, I don't know the answers to most of your questions, since I did not do the work, nor did I witness the work done. He did not show me the type of caulk (he does this for a living--I trusted him to use what was appropriate). He did not report seeing any visible mold (I asked.) There was no delay between removal and recaulking. It dried for at least 24 hrs, maybe a little longer--I cannot recall. I presume the surround was *adequately* waterproofed, but again I did not do the work. I saw that they did do the waterproofing.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:53PM
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