Sunday, November 14, 2010

Caulk, Caulk, and More Caulk

Let's just gloss over the fact that I haven't posted in 11 months, why don't we? I can't promise I'll return to churning out regular blog posts, but there is so much to update. I've painted the living room, dining room, built-in bookcase, and kitchen... then painted the kitchen back to the original color. I've purchased a new coffee table and entertainment center, an under-the cabinet microwave oven for my tiny kitchen, super-duper organized my built-in and closets, painted a fairly gross bedroom room closet, and started overhauling the mudroom.

However, today I did what I've been putting off for three years: caulking. The two big containers of kitchen/bathroom caulk and window/trim caulk have been mocking me for months. I'm not sure what got into me today but I worked for about 7 hours straight. (I work slow, ok?)

During the winter, the master bedroom is about 5-7 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. We have gas hot water heat. (The pipes are in the slab flooring.) Wonderful heat system except that the valve to the master bedroom is turned half-way off. During the last boiler servicing, I asked for the technician to turn it on 100%. The valve wouldn't budge. We have new windows so I figured the room was as warm as it would get. When I held my hand near the trim today, I felt a LOT of cold air. Not good.



I like to tape off to make the application easier. But I'm really disliking the Frog Tape. It would NOT stick to the walls. It was really strange. It worked when I bought it 6 months ago. It's not like I stored it in a hot or cold location. Three windows down and we'll see if the temp discrepancy keeps more at the 2 degree mark rather than 7 degrees! (The "outside" thermometer is keep in the living room.)



After I finished in the bedroom, I dragged my feet to the bathroom. The outside bottom of the tub gets so gross! I can scrub but it never gets clean!

I'm sure there was a better way to do it but I pulled up the old caulk with needle-nose pliers. Then scraped with a tool that looks similar to a flat-head screw driver. It will gouge the shower tiles but thankfully not the flooring tiles.



After vacuuming, I taped the area off.



I applied the caulk and here's my special secret to smoothing out the caulk: my fingers. Dip your finger in water and drag across the caulk. Wipe off the excess on your finger onto a paper towel. After finishing the area, remove the tape immediately.



Do not use this tool:



I had it and never liked it. I don't know why I didn't toss it. It makes it worse than if I hadn't done anything.



It takes a while for me to get the hang of getting it smooth.



But when I do, it gets better.

See, MUCH better!



(I realize my camera isn't the best quality. But trust me, I'm no longer embarrassed if guests see this.)

Since I had the caulk out, I figured it was time to tackle the bathroom sink. I would bleach the heck out of this any time I was expecting company. For three YEARS! Why didn't I do this sooner?



See how gray and nasty it gets? (I am really embarrassed by this.) Don't mind the ick around the faucet. I have no idea what causes this. I can use a Magic Eraser and Bar Keeper's Friend (the sure-fire combo) and it still won't budge. Eventually the caulk scraper removed it.




I taped around the sink. That was easy. A little tricky behind the sink but nothing a bunch of 1-inch long pieces of tape wouldn't solve. I couldn't tape on the countertop and keep the line even.



I decided to just apply a very thin line of caulk and hope for the best. It worked. I barely had any excess to wipe off. Then I carefully wiped around the sink with a paper towel. Viola!





I hope this helps someone that may be putting off caulking because it seems a little overwhelming. It really is fairly easy for beginners and it an important step in keeping bathrooms mold-free and your house more energy-efficient. Now I'll kick back with a beer and watch tonight's Boardwalk Empire. :)

P.S. Anyone have any tips for regrouting? The floor tile desperately needs it and I have no experience with it.

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