Sealing A Bath
It seems like a small problem, but a leaky bath or shower tray seal can lead to significant problems in a house. If you have a shower over the bath, and your bathroom is upstairs, even a small leak on a daily basis can cause major problems if left untreated.
Water seeping into the joists below will over time cause the ceiling below to fall in, and joists will need to be repaired or replaced. Better then to take care of the problem sooner rather than later.
The first step is to remove any old sealer from the area. You need to remove it all, or the new seal will not be perfect. Use a utility knife, a scraper and white spirit to remove and clean the area.
Always buy good quality silicone sealer. You can find the better brands with a 5 year guarantee and anti-mould qualities. Go for something like that. You will also need a silicone gun, which are very inexpensive.
Load the tube into the gun
Using a utility knife, cut the end off the nozzle at about 45 degrees with a nice neat cut. You only need a small hole, about 5mm, so that you can easily control the amount of silicone that you are applying.
Most tubes are sealed inside. You need to poke a nail or something similar down the nozzle just to break the barrier inside. Yo may find that your gun has a long wire on the body that is designed for just that.
Always have lots of paper towel to hand. You will probably need it. Squeeze the trigger and push the silicone down the nozzle and test how the whole thing feels by laying a bead onto a sheet of paper towel. You can practice on this or maybe a piece of cardboard just to get the feel. At the end of the run, press the release at the back of the gun to relieve the pressure and stop the flow. Now you know how it works!
Some experts advice taping the edges to make it easier to remove any excess by using blue masking tape, the tape you would use when painting. I have never found this to be necessary, and the time involved in masking to leave the perfect gap just defeats the object.
Top Tip: If you are sealing a bath, fill the bath with water first. This forces the bath to its lowest position prior to sealing, otherwise, you may find that after sealing, you use the bath and it drops several milimetres with the weight, and pulls the silicone away from the surface of the bath.
So here we go… place the nozzle at the end of the run, with the hole in the nozzle facing downward. Squeeze the trigger and move the gun along the gap to be filled, trying to match the speed of the gun with the pressure on the trigger to release an even amount of sealer. You need to do this whole thing in one uniform bead if possible. If the flow is about to stop, release the trigger and press again to continue the flow.
Try to hold the gun at around 45 degrees, and try not to overfill, because it can be tricky to remove the excess. At the end of the run, release the pressure and move the gun away onto the paper towel. Phew!
You now need to shape the caulk by pressing and sealing to the two surfaces. There are tools that you can buy, but I have never found a better tool for the job than my finger. I lick my finger to wet it, apply it to the sealant at one end, then run all the way along with light pressure, forming the seal. I know that licking a finger is not the most hygeinic of methods, but it works for me every time.
Sometimes then use a different finger just to smooth a little more. You may prefer to use a tool, and it may well work for you, I just never had much success that way.
Watch the video at the bottom of this page, it is usually easier to see something like this rather than read a description. I think the main thing is to try again if it doesn’t work. After a few attempts you should notice that you start to get a feel for it. You can always remove the first attempt with paper towel, clean with white spirit and start again. If at first you don’t succeed..!