Should You Caulk Around a Shower Base?

In the bathroom, excess steam in the air can pool up and cause damage to fixtures such as wood cabinets and showers. This is where sealants like caulk come in handy.

You should caulk around a shower base to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew and prevent unpleasant odors in your bathroom. Old, cracked caulk should be removed and replaced with a fresh coat. 

Whether installing a new tub or shower or replacing the existing caulk in your bathroom, this article will give you step-by-step instructions for using caulk.

caulk around shower base

How Do You Caulk Around a Shower Base?

1. Collect the Necessary Tools

Caulking is simple enough even for inexperienced home renovators, and the job shouldn’t take too much time.

First, you’ll need supplies such as:

  • Caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Caulk-finishing tool
  • Painter’s tape
  • Rubbing alcohol

There are several options for caulk available. But in this case, you need something waterproof and in the right color for your shower. This Pelto Clear Silicon Sealant+Caulk Kit (available on Amazon.com) comes with a kit that includes a 10.1-ounce (286 grams) tube of silicone caulk, a caulking gun, and various finishing tools. These tools can be useful not only for your shower but also for another home project.

On that note, you can use caulk for weatherproofing in almost any room of your house. If you’d like to learn how to use caulk to keep water out of your crawlspace, check out this article.

2. Remove Any Old Caulk From Your Shower Base

Before applying a fresh layer of caulk, you need to remove the old, cracked caulk first. You can easily get rid of the latter if you follow these steps:

  1. Use a sharp tool or box cutter to scrape and cut away the old caulk.
  2. Clean the area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol.
  3. Rinse with water and dry your workspace before continuing to the next step.

3. Tape the Area With Painter’s Tape

Use the painter’s tape to mark off where you want the edge of your caulk to be. This will give you a neat line and help improve the overall look of the shower base and caulk when you’re finished. 

tape the area with painter's tape

Once you’re done with the project, you will remove the tape. (I will explain the best way to do that later in the article.)

4. Cut the Caulk Nozzle

Using caulk isn’t just a matter of putting it into the gun. You need to cut the caulk nozzle properly to ensure a smooth and even application. To do that, follow the steps below.

  1. Find the hole in the handle of your caulk gun. Almost every type of caulking gun includes a small hole in the handle to cut the caulk’s nozzle. 
  2. Insert the caulk’s tip into the hole.
  3. Firmly squeeze the handle of the caulk gun to snip off the tip of the caulk. A box cutter or a similar blade can be used to cut the tip of the nozzle. 

Remember to cut the tip at a 45-degree angle and at the right place on the tip. The closer to the tip of the nozzle you cut, the smaller the hole, which will give you a smaller bead. For a thicker bead, cut farther down on the tip of the nozzle. 

After adequately preparing the tube, put it into the caulk gun. To do this properly, follow the instructions in this video:

5. Apply the Caulk to Your Shower Base

You should work from one end of the shower base to the other in a continuous line. Here are a few tips to be mindful of when caulking with a gun:

  • Apply caulk at a 45-degree angle.
  • Move your hand at a consistent rate to get a smooth application of the caulk.
  • Don’t apply too much pressure, but squeeze the caulking gun’s trigger with the same pressure as you run the caulk along the shower base. 
  • Be sure to prep the area, as this will make applying the caulk much easier. Aside from clearing away old caulk, you’ll also want to remove any dust and debris that might get in the way of your work. 

6. Smooth the Caulk

smooth the caulk

Ideally, you should use a caulking tool for this step. 

If you don’t have a caulking kit, you can buy this Black&Gold 3-in-1 Silicone Caulking Kit (available on Amazon.com), which includes smoothing and bladed tools for cutting away old caulk. This kit is extremely affordable, and you’ll never have to wonder if you have the right tools for your next caulking project. 

Here’s how to use caulk-finishing tools:

  1. Run the tool along the caulk.
  2. Apply consistent pressure and angle the tool at 45 degrees.
  3. Clean any excess caulk off the tool. 

How To Smooth Caulk With Your Finger

If you don’t have the tools I just mentioned, you can also smooth the freshly-applied caulk with your finger by following these steps:

  1. Wet your finger with warm soapy water.
  2. Run your finger along the freshly-applied caulk.
  3. Apply consistent, even pressure as you work from one end of the shower base to the other.

Of course, remember to wash your hands thoroughly after you get caulk on it. 

7. Remove the Tape

Once you’re finished smoothing the caulk, the last step is to remove the painter’s tape before the caulk starts to dry. Otherwise, if you remove the tape after the caulk has started curing or cured completely, the tape will pull up the newly-applied caulk, and you’ll have to start the job again.

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Conclusion

Replacing old caulk or applying new caulk to your shower space is an easy project you can finish with these six simple steps:

  1. Remove the old caulk.
  2. Tape the area you’re working on.
  3. Cut the caulk tube’s nozzle.
  4. Apply the caulk in a consistent, even line.
  5. Smooth the caulk using your finger or a caulk-finishing tool.
  6. Remove the tape before the caulk starts to dry.

Caulking surfaces in your bathroom will eliminate mold, mildew, and bacteria, prevent any foul odors and protect against water damage to your walls.