01 December 2011

DIY: caulking a shower door

Over the last several months, I’ve prepared for the fact that a good part of brainpower was going to be devoted to writing my dissertation. I planned blog posts (though I wrote them in real-time), I stocked the freezer and figured out our meals for a month, and I even redecorated an entire room for the specific purpose of having a pleasant place to write.

I did not, however, clean the house. And of course, it only got worse as I abandoned the usual maintenance cleaning in favor of becoming a hermit in my thesis-writing room. Occasionally I asked Mr. P to vacuum (he does all the vacuuming), but most of the time I just lamented about how gross and disorganized everything had become. Then I’d get a cookie and go back to working on my dissertation, absent-mindedly getting cookie crumbs all over the floor that Mr. P had just vacuumed.

After a few weeks it came to a head:

And the front edge of our shower door frame is what did it. Oh gosh, I can’t believe I’m about to show you this.

Wait a second LET ME EXPLAIN. First of all, see how there’s caulk straight-up missing? Yeah, that makes it worse, because water just sort of made itself at home in the shower frame. Then the mildew started to grow, like, within the remaining caulk, such that no amount of scrubbing would get rid of it without scraping off the caulk. Which was clearly a huge part of the problem in the first place.

Despite recognizing the problem, I’d only half-heartedly cleaned it and decided to deal with re-caulking in the indefinite future (please don’t judge). You would think a good time would not be a week before my dissertation was due. But the dissertation writing flipped the crazy switch in my brain, and then even though Chapter VI needed some serious attention, before I knew what was happening I found myself doing this:

There’s an dissertation-editing metaphor in there somewhere, but my brain is still a little too tired to make it. After a few minutes, I realized I’d done this:


Looks so much better, right? With all the scummy caulk scraped away? This is also when I discovered that there was SO MUCH WATER trapped in the shower frame that needed to be blotted up before I could re-caulk. It was simultaneously horrifying and satisfying to soak up what I imagined to be years’ worth of collected shower drips.

But, recall: I had not exactly planned to re-caulk the shower door frame. At this point it was after 10pm, I’d used all the good caulk I had on the laundry room paneling project, and I’d just rendered our shower even leakier in a impulsive fit. (Actually, that laundry room project post is yet another good example of an impulsive fit, and how I become CRAZY DETERMINED TO DO THINGS THE HARD WAY. I think I may have a pattern of this behavior.)

So I rummaged around in the garage until I found this:

I do not think that is designed for showers. Also I just found it in my garage with no idea where it came from or how old it was. But it said “waterproof” and “mildew resistant” and of course, we all know I’m a sucker for using stuff that’s free and on-hand!

So after waiting a while to blot out as much water as I could from the frame, I applied a “bead” of caulk:

Which was way too thick. I didn’t like this caulk nearly as much as others I’ve used, but that may be because it was in my garage for years, getting old.

S’okay though. I smeared it into place, keeping my finger wet with a disposable cup of water nearby and, though they’re not pictured, a good roll of paper towels.

I did the inside of the shower, too, but the lighting made it too hard to photograph. Plus, I was getting caulk everywhere because of the thick and globby nature of the caulk I was using and touching my camera seemed like a very bad idea.

Anyway, after smoothing it out in a perfectly straight line to appease my picky nature:

Bam! The best caulking jobs are the ones you can’t even see.

How’s about a nice before-and-after so I can redeem myself?

Before I had to caulk our new countertops when we installed them ourselves – which is a story I’ll share someday – I thought caulking was something that requires talent, and was easy to mess up. It really doesn’t, and it’s easy. You just need a razorblade to remove the old caulk, and a cup of water and paper towels to re-caulk. Really, if you can fingerpaint, you can caulk anything.

So if you have a shower with scummy caulk: I feel your pain. And I encourage you to be brave enough to give it a little touch-up! Hey, if I could do it in my crazy brain-dead state, anyone can.