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I'm sure this is a relatively simple task but I've never done it before and want to make sure I get it right. There are some holes/separation appearing in the caulk between the bathtub and the wall around it. Here is a picture:

holes in caulk

What would be the most appropriate way to fix this? Can I "patch" the holes with caulk or do I really need to remove what's there now and reapply? What type of caulk do I need? How do I make sure there is not moisture being sealed in? Also, what is the name of this type of material covering the wall around the inside of the tub/shower area? It feels thin and kind of plastic-y. I tried to describe it to someone and realized that I do not know what it's called.

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Nice photo editing. Is that an "L" shaped plastic band around the edge? –  getterdun Mar 6 at 23:25
    
Thanks, and yes that's what it looks like (I did not put this in originally) –  Joe M. Mar 12 at 19:09

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This looks like this is one of those re-lined tubs. Get that caulked in as soon as possible. I don't mean to be an alarmist, but I am surprised that the sidewalls are set behind the tub's top edge, not over the tubs edge. The way this is now, relies only on the integrity of the caulk to keep the water out from the actual tub under the liner, where it would be trapped.

Would you be able to have the tub area redone?

If that is not possible, practically any hardware store, big or small will have a mildew resistant caulk that will take care of the immediate problem. Do remove the old caulk by carefully cutting the openings that are there bigger with out scratching the plastic tub or wall liner.

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Thanks! I'm not sure about getting the entire thing redone.. certainly outside of my DIY capabilities but perhaps the best idea especially if moisture has entered the holes in the caulking.. not sure what else I could do about that... –  Joe M. Mar 12 at 19:12

One more thing is to keep water in the tub when you caulk until the caulk dries. It's a pain to work this way, but flex in the floor under the tub when there's weight in it can help open up a gap in the caulk over time if it was caulked with no weight in the tub. Given that your caulk is doing a critical job it shouldn't have to do means you don't want to miss a trick. You definitely do not want water getting behind or under the tub. It creates a superb natural habitat for mold and rot. Long term, it would be best to install a tub surround (or equivalent) that correctly overlaps the lip of the tub.

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Very good point about filling the tub, pressure from the water inside the tub can distort areas that are critical. –  Jack Mar 7 at 12:46
    
Thanks for your answer! I'll keep the idea about filling the tub in mind. –  Joe M. Mar 12 at 19:11
    
I recently had a similar experience--moved into a place where the tub was a brand new installation. The caulk was coming apart after less than two months. I re-caulked the tub and used the "fill the tub" method, and everything has been fine since. I'd like to take credit, but I'm certainly not a pro. I credit the method. –  Matt D Mar 15 at 3:04

Jack and Ecnerwal are both right in that the wall should overlap the tub. Your caulk probably failed prematurely because of the excessive runoff on it (and it is a bad caulk job).

What would I do? Strip out all caulk. Then make sure that I fill the gap between wall and tub with Silicone. I would level the Silicone off at tub lip. Then I would recaulk using a mold resistant caulk on top of silicone. The caulking should not be applied as high (thick) as shown in your picture or it just won't last.

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Thanks for your answer! Does the silicone help even if moisture has already entered the holes in the caulking? Should I do anything else besides that to try to get moisture out? –  Joe M. Mar 12 at 19:13
    
@JoeM. - the silicone would basically do two things. Flexibly glue the tub and wall together. And then also act as a second line of defense if the caulk showing failed. –  DMoore Mar 12 at 19:41

Not clear exactly what the wall covering is, but very clear it's installed wrong (the wall material should be lapped OVER the edge of the tub, not behind it, so the whole job of directing water is not dependent on the caulk.)

That said, if recaulking best results are from removing the old caulking first and redoing the whole job.

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Thanks! I would have had no idea.. –  Joe M. Mar 12 at 19:12

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