Just Stop Caulking

Man Caulking 002

Most people believe that the “D” in DIY stands for “Do”.

As in, “Do it yourself.”

But really, it stands for “Disaster”

Yes, that’s right … Disaster It Yourself, Bucko!

I have been attempting to re-caulk the shower in the spare bathroom now for about 5 days.  All of the YouTube videos assured me that I could do this easily in an hour.   Two, tops, if I wanted to mask everything off with blue painter’s tape.

But first you have to scrape off the old caulking that was applied by Mr. Dap himself back in the early 1920s.

And as you do that, you discover what a shoddy job the builders did grouting the tile.  And setting the tile.  Someone decided that caulking was an excellent way to mask cracks in the grout and even just plain ol’ missing grout.

Then, after scraping and de-caulking yourself into full traction suit and doctor’s orders for bedrest, you have to clean the tile so that the new caulk will stick.

Then you have to mask off every corner, crack, and seam all around the shower, inside and out.

Then you have to go back to the home improvement store because you realize that the tiny little tube of silicon caulk you bought will not even get you through the first 2 or 3 seams.  Somehow you ended up with about a half-mile of seams that need to be caulked.

Now it is finally time to caulk (4 days later, allowing some time for Easter and extreme lethargy).

On goes the caulking.  Things are looking good.  The spreader tool is doing its job beautifully.  The seams look professional.

Sure, I’m a little perturbed that caulking requires throwing away 4 times as much caulk as that which remains on the shower stall.  Why don’t they invent a caulk dispenser that comes out in the right shape so you don’t have to scrape off 3/4ths of it and throw it away?

Okay, so this is the part you’ve been waiting for.

The disaster part.

If this were a movie set on a ship, this is where it would sink.

Having caulked all the seams, I go back to start pulling off the masking tape.

Hey, guess what!?

Did you know that caulk can begin setting up in as little as 30 seconds?  You really need to pull off the masking tape right behind the caulking gun.  Don’t wait the 10 or 15 minutes it takes to finish caulking the entire tub.

So as I pulled off the blue painter’s tape, giant strings and webs and bands of rubbery silicon caulk came along with it, leaving behind beautiful shirrs, ruffles, florets, and ruched edges in my once-beautiful caulking bead.

Why don’t you show THAT on your YouTube video, Tom Silva?

And … hey!  You know what’s harder to scrape off of tile than 20-year-old caulking?

That’s right:  fresh, new, stretchy, stringy, clingy, rubbery caulking!

It’s like trying to get bubble gum off of the soles of your shoe on a hot, summer day.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate DIY projects?

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41 comments

  1. My secret to calking is not having a clue as to how it’s supposed to be done, so I just wing it. The only special tools I’ve used is a gun, fingers, and latex gloves. It aint pretty, but it works.

    At least until I run out of clean fingers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I decided to re-caulk our bathroom one weekend when my husband was out of town. For good measure I also decided to wallpaper.

    First issue: I didn’t know that you needed a caulking gun. My friend and I proceeded to squeeze the tube as hard as we could. All the while cursing whoever made this so difficult. Needless to say it was a disaster.

    The wallpaper also was a complete mess. I had no idea what I was doing. It was falling off constantly and I tried everything to make it stick.

    Oh, now that I think of it, I also made a home made shower curtain. It was hideous.

    I proudly displayed my handiwork to Bruce when he got home. He wasn’t impressed. He didn’t waste his energy trying to hide his disappointment.

    That was over 30 years ago, and we are still married….but likely ONLY because I gave up any DIY projects after the bathroom nightmare.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Anne! Great reply. Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s DIY-impaired.

      Over the years I have found that one of the requirements for a successful DIY project is having the right tools. It’s not a guarantee of success, but it makes failure less likely. It’s also important to know how to use them. I fall down in both of these things.

      Too bad you don’t still have the shower curtain. You could write a post about it and we could all admire it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your post was so hilarious. I love it when you write about your chores.

        It might just inspire me to write something about my one of my many mishaps. I have learned that the best solution is to hire someone. I am quite likely Canada’s worst handy person.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s only true because I don’t live in Canada!

          But thank you for the compliment. I think people love reading about other people’s mishaps (as long as no one is hurt). So, by all means, please write about one of your adventures! I look forward to reading it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. You have my deepest sympathies. Caulking has always been something I’ve found to look SO easy on This Old House, but really is a nightmare of not enough/too much/too lumpy/too smeary for the average person.

    My husband and I used to marvel at the yahoos who did the hack jobs in houses we’ve owned, and now we’ve done enough projects that we know for a fact that someone will look at OUR work years from now and call us all kinds of names. Yahoo may be the least of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved reading this so much. I thought I had a hard time re-installing our up-flush pump toilet every year, but I had forgotten that caulking is much, much worse. I’m in awe that you did a whole tub

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so funny I was laughing out loud tonight at your cleverness –not in caulking, but writing about it. The caulking is something that looks easy enough to do but ridiculously laborious! When living in a 19b40 built home I has similar experiences. Thanks for reminding me! : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m glad I was able to make you smile and laugh. I think we all go through similar things. We watch home improvement shows and think, “I can do that”. Except we can’t.

      Like

  6. This is one of my least favourite do-it-yourself jobs, and I have done a lot of caulking, with very few perfect results. I usually end up with the silicone stuff under my fingernails for a week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve done it many times in the past, and I always hate it. It never goes as smoothly as it should. I think I’m going to have all the showers in my house replaced with those one-piece molded shower stalls that have no seams.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha! You are so right! My caulking probably won’t last 5 years.

      And the next owner of this house, when they are forced to re-caulk, will say, “What yay-hoo did such a horrible job applying this caulking!?”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ummm…I’m a little reluctant to ask this question but I want future-you not to create a time machine to come back and kill present-you. You mentioned that some yahoo used caulk in between the tiles. Have you replaced that erroneously-placed caulk with tile grout, or are you replacing it with more silicone caulk? Oh geez, it just occurred to me that future-you might come back and kill present-me. Present-you might kill me, too. I’m not sure if I can take a two-Biff whammy. Forget I said anything! I’ll just go off and make a sandwich now.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Our worlds just collided, except you can substitute “boat deck” for “shower” and change the color of the caulk from white to black. Believe me — there’s a reason boaters call that black deck caulking the Black Death. And, yes — I had to learn that little trick with the tape, too. What’s worse about Black Death is that you have to pull it after it’s set “just enough” but not “too much.”

    It’s the Goldilocks approach to home improvement, and getting it just right is nigh until impossible. You have my sympathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there’s a definite trick to using painter’s tape to mask off caulking. In retrospect, I’m not sure it was worth it. Next time I think I’ll just do it sans tape.

      And I can’t imagine working with black caulking. The white stuff is bad enough. Truth is, I hate working with any kind of chemical at all … including ordinary household cleaning supplies. They irritate my skin and lungs something fierce. I always use disposable nitrile gloves.

      And thank you for the sympathy. I’m glad I’m not alone in my ineptitude!

      Like

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