Built-In Storage Between the Studs

Whoever invented the idea of building shelving in between the studs in a wall is a genius. If you’ve searched Pinterest or Google for ways to find extra storage space in a small bathroom, you’ve probably seen photos of some of these.

I decided this would be a good project to try, since I recently moved to a house with the world’s smallest master bathroom. And besides being tiny, it was also a little on the boring side. Here’s my wall before the big event. (Excuse the patches–I was getting ready to paint before I got a wild hair to try this.)

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To begin, I drilled some 1/4″ holes in the wall in order to have places to insert the tip of my saw to cut a hole.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my super-useful garage sale saw. (Just had to show it.)

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I tapped my saw into the hole expecting to hit another piece of drywall that typically would be behind it, but I didn’t hit anything but air. This meant there was an open cavity behind my wall, and that, ladies and gentlemen, was a very good thing. My super-smart carpenter brother, Mike, told me there probably used to be a tub behind the wall before someone converted the space to a stand-up shower. At that point, it was looking like my between-the-stud project was turning into something a little more exciting than I anticipated.

Just to be sure I wasn’t going to hit something like pipes, duct-work or electrical wires, I only cut out a smallish piece of drywall to start. I’d rather patch a small hole than a big one if I was going to run into a problem or lose my nerve.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I could peek inside the hole and saw nothing in the way, I made it a little larger, and then I cut out a second hole. There was a stud running down the middle of the wall that I wasn’t ready to cut out just yet.

I hadn’t decided exactly how big I wanted to make my shelving unit, so I left these two ugly holes in the wall for a week or two while I mulled the whole thing over. I would liked to have searched for a unique old door or window of some sort to make this into a cabinet rather than a shelf, but I was a little too impatient for that.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is a picture of inside the hole. Behind the PVC pipe is the back of my shower in my other bathroom.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I made my decision of how big to make my shelving unit, I finally cut the hole to the desired size.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve agonized over the years about whether or not to buy a reciprocating saw, and once again I wished I had one. But I just used a good, old-fashioned hand saw–also from a garage sale–and got the job done just fine. My biceps got a work out, my pores were cleared from sweating and I’m a better person for it.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Finally I have my hole!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to make full use of as much of the open space behind the wall as I could. This meant building a big box, which also meant building a heavy box. I made a frame inside the cavity out of 2 x 4’s to support the weight of my shelf unit. I added a 2 x 4 on each side of the opening to screw my box into, as well as a couple for the unit to sit on. I made sure the boards were level so my shelf wouldn’t be off kilter when I set it on the frame.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This may seem a little backwards to a real carpenter like my bro, but I always found it easier to cut my back piece first, and build the box to fit it. I measured the opening I had cut in the wall, and then cut my piece that would be the back of my unit, a tad smaller than the opening. That way, I’d have a little wiggle room when trying to shove that bad boy into the wall.

So here’s my bead board back piece. It looked a little beat up from the move, but it painted up just fine.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I built this unit using simple butt joints–nothing fancy or complicated. I used plywood for the box, and particle board for the shelves. I prefer to use MDF, but used plywood for the box because it’s lighter weight, and I knew this shelving unit was going to be a bear to lift and slide into the wall–especially while straddling a toilet.

In addition to MDF being heavier than plywood, it swells when it gets wet, and this will be sitting right next to my shower pipes. You just never know…I used particle board for the shelves because it’s nicer looking than plywood when it’s painted, and I had no plans to put anything heavy on these shelves. The outer plywood box would protect the shelves from water, as particle board doesn’t like water all that much either.

I knew what items I would be storing on the shelves, and spaced them accordingly. In order to make the best use of the prime real estate I had discovered, I made the shelves 24″ deep. In this photo, I was just trying to get my shelf spacing figured out.

Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s actually easiest to paint the pieces with a coat of primer and a coat of finish before you assemble it. Then caulk all of the joints, let dry and put a final finish coat on.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my son, Ross, ready to help with the install. Whatever would I do without him!!!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonILphoto IMG_5936.jpg

Ready, set, go!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After some man-handling, we got it into the wall.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I screwed it into the stud it was sitting on and into the studs on each side. In this scenario, if I ever needed to have my shower plumbing replaced, I could (reluctantly) remove the unit from the wall to access the pipes.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I trimmed it out and make it look pretty. I used this nifty vinyl trim from Home Depot. I’m all about the vinyl trim. It doesn’t crack like wood does, it’s flawless and it paints easily.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Adding trim made the shelves look more substantial.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I added trim pieces to the sides.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had some pieces of a beautiful, old, wooden picture frame left over from another project, so I cut them to size, and painted them white for the top and bottom trim pieces. I caulked wherever one trim piece met another. I sunk all of my nails, puttied the holes and sanded off the excess putty after it dried. Then I painted all of the trim.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here she is! Beauty and function all wrapped up into one big, beautiful piece of…something.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since the shelves were so deep, I was able to put some smallish plastic storage bins of items I don’t use too often behind the towels. This freed up space in my vanity.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In addition to adding the shelving unit, I replaced my bathroom door with a pocket door. Making my way to the toilet to do my thing used to be like squeezing into one of those public restroom stalls where you have to straddle the toilet in order to shut the door. And I was growing a little tired of a door against my backside¬†while I was brushing my teeth. My amazingly talented brother (yes, I’m a suck-up) installed the pocket door for me.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I ended up changing out the mirror, the light fixture and the faucet as part of my bathroom overhaul too. Next is the toilet, but that’s for another day.

I’m not a fan of having over-the-toilet cabinets in a bathroom unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’d rather look at a pretty picture, and I feel like a cabinet cuts into the space too much. But if storage is needed and you aren’t gutsy enough to cut an enormous hole in your drywall, then so be it. With my new in-the-wall storage, the toilet cabinet is no longer a must. Here’s my before picture.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s the after. The walls just have a tinted primer on them in this photo, but once it’s painted, I’ll swap out my photo and no one will be the wiser.

 photo IMG_6004.jpg

So if you need storage or maybe just a space to display pretty things in a room in your house, take a deep breath and try cutting a hole in your wall!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter. Feel free to visit her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One

I wanted to title this post “Mystery Poop”, but decided it may not attract too many viewers if I did. You see, I recently moved to a new house, and had an issue with a…well…a turd that kept reappearing in my toilet. The little “dancing turd” as my kids and I lovingly nicknamed it, didn’t belong to any of us (it came free with the house). After a few attempts, I managed to launch the little brown pest into Sewersville with my plunger. I thought my toilet issues were over until subsequent deposits made by family members, guests and myself also continued to reappear. I decided enough is enough and sprang for a new toilet.

I’d always heard that installing a new toilet isn’t all that difficult. And since I’d already paid my plumber enough money from other jobs in my new house to finance his son’s college education, I decided to tackle this project myself. Plus, I’d removed a handful of toilets in my lifetime, so I at least had experience at half of the job.

Step one. Every toilet has a shut off valve to stop the flow of water to the tank. I shut this off, and then flushed the toilet to empty the tank. If the toilet fills back up after you’ve shut the water off with the shut off valve, call your plumber. You’ve got issues. Here’s the shut off valve.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

There will still be about an inch or so of water in the tank after it flushes, but that’s normal.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I unscrewed the plastic nut that connects the hose to the tank. I had a container ready to catch water that I expected to run out, but much to my surprise, no water came out.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I removed the plastic nut in order to remove the float tower (my personal name for it) to allow the remaining water to drain out of the tank. A little water leaked out, but not too much.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the nut was removed, I lifted out the float tower not realizing there was still quite a bit of water in the tank. My feet got wet on that one.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

As I was working, I noticed that the hose that I had disconnected had drops of water leaking out of it, which meant my shut off valve wasn’t working quite right, so I left my container under it to catch the drips. If everything is working properly, your shut off valve should stop all the water from coming out of your hose.

Next, I removed the tank from the stool so the toilet would be lighter and easier for me to lift off of the floor. In order to do that, I simply had to remove three nuts from under the tank (two of them are pictured here).

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Sounds simple, right? Two of nuts came off with little effort using a pair of pliers. The third nut however, had rusted. Removing the final bolt would have been much easier with two people, where one person could hold the nut with pliers on the underside of the toilet, and the second person could use a screwdriver to unscrew the bolt from the top.

After several minutes of dinking around with the screw from hell, I came to the painful conclusion that it wasn’t going to come off. Ever. In a moment of desperation, I made the conscious decision to just crack the toilet to get it off. So here’s a great shot of the cracked tank.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For the record, I’ve heard a person can get cut pretty bad on cracked porcelain, so don’t try this at home. I would advise you to get a Dremel or a hack saw and cut the screw off if it won’t unscrew. ¬†Or get someone to help lift the toilet off in one piece so you don’t have to take it apart.

Here are the fruits of my labor. Beautiful (or not).

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I removed the caps off of the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now it’s time to cut through the gross caulk so the toilet will come loose from the floor.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I lifted the stool and put it on a throw-away towel in the bathtub. I tipped the stool forward a couple of times to remove the remaining water. (No lurking turds.) Make no mistake–there will be water remaining in the stool part that you can’t see, so don’t go trying to carry it across your new white carpeting to the front door without a garbage bag wrapped around it.

It would have been a good idea to set an open garbage bag on top of the towel to set the toilet into in the first place. But since I didn’t do that, I had to lift up the toilet and slide a bag underneath it. Not really too much fun.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what I’m left with.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve been thinking this is a pretty disgusting process so far, it gets worse right about now. I put on some gloves to remove as much of the wax ring as possible. If you have a black plastic ring in the middle of the mess, that needs to come out too.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the old bolts, and stuck a rag into the opening to keep sewer gas from coming up.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now comes the time-consuming part of removing all of the old caulk with a razor blade.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found after trying both Goo-Gone and Dawn dish soap, that a very simple way to remove wax off of the linoleum was to use good, old-fashioned baking soda. I just sprinkled a generous amount on the floor, ran the plastic side of a sponge over it, and it came right off.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my new toilet by Kohler. I chose a chair-height toilet which sits higher off the ground than a standard toilet. I also chose a round toilet instead of an elongated one since I have a small bathroom. It was about $170.00 at Lowe’s. I also saw it at Home Depot.

To figure out what size of toilet I needed, I measured the space from my toilet bolts on the floor, to the wall behind it for a 12″ measurement. This is the most common toilet size.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To install the new toilet, I basically re-did all of the things I un-did to get the old toilet out.

I put the new bolts right back in the flange where I took the old ones out.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To help with setting the new toilet over the bolts, I put blue tape on the floor next to the bolts and drew a line to where the bolts sit so I could see better where I need to go with the toilet.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next comes the wax ring. My plumber uses two wax rings, so that’s what I did too. Here’s the wax ring. One came with the toilet, and I purchased a second one separately.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the plastic that the wax ring came in, and stuck the ring around the opening on the bottom of the toilet.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I placed the second ring on the flange on the floor after I removed the rag from the hole. It might cause you some grief if you don’t remember to remove your rag from the opening before you put the toilet on. Just a helpful tip from me to you.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I didn’t want to try to lift the toilet over the bolts by myself, so I called over my son, Ross, to help me. I’m not sure how a person could actually do this by himself, but I know people do it all the time. If you are going to try this by yourself, I would strongly recommend putting tape on the floor as I did, to help guide you because the toilet blocks the view of the bolts from above.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Seating a toilet is a one-shot deal, which is what has kept me from trying this in the past. If you mess up your toilet placement, you can’t lift up the toilet and try again because you’ll break the seal on the wax ring, causing the toilet to leak. You are also not supposed to slide the toilet around too much after you seat it for the same reason. I did have to move it just a bit because it was a little cati-wampus. I sat on the toilet facing the wall, which squished the wax rings together to form the seal.

After the toilet felt like it had sunk down onto the floor, I measured from the wall to each of the two holes on the stool to make sure the toilet was set evenly. I also used a level to make sure the toilet was even. No one’s gonna want to do their business with their cheeks out of whack, right?

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I put on the washers and nuts over the floor bolts as directed. I hand-tightened these just barely snug so as not to crack the porcelain.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then followed the directions on how to attach the tank to the stool. These directions will vary from one toilet to another. First I put on the gasket. The gasket is a squishy, rubber doughnut-like circle with a flat side that keeps the water from leaking out of the tank. Every standard toilet will have a gasket, although I’ve never seen one quite this big. The flat side generally goes against the tank, and the round side towards the stool, but be sure to read the directions for your particular toilet. If the gasket is put on backwards, the tank will leak.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I put the tank onto the stool, and hand tightened the two screws that hold the tank to the toilet. The photo is a picture before the nuts were tightened. This part was a little tricky. I had to put the tank on and take it back off a couple of times before I got it right because it was too wobbly, yet the nuts felt tight enough. I just didn’t have it placed correctly at first.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The “guts” inside this particular toilet tank were already assembled inside of it, so I didn’t have to do anything there. Now for the grand finale! The toilet seat. Here are the bolts in the tabs made to hold the toilet seat on.

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I attached these winged plastic nuts to the bolts that held the toilet seat in place. These nuts were easy to screw on because of the wing. Again, I was careful not to over-tighten them.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Lastly, I caulked the sides and front of the base of the toilet, leaving the back free of caulk. Why? Because that’s what my plumber told me to do. He explained that if there’s ever a leak in the wax ring, it may give the water a place to go other than into the sub floor. This way, you’ll know if you have a leak.

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

That’s all there was to it. It wasn’t difficult, it was just time-consuming. Because of the age of my house, the toilets I had were not the low-water usage ones. If I decide to get a more efficient toilet in my other bathroom, I would install that one myself too (with the help of my son, Ross, of course). It wasn’t very fun, but it was worth the effort to save myself some money.

And here she is. Of course after the new toilet looked so nice and new, I had to paint the walls and vanity, get a new vanity top, faucet, light fixture, mirror, baseboard, wainscoting…..

  How to Remove an Old Toilet and Install a New One/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom

We all love the look of board and batten, don’t we? Absolutely. I finally decided to add it to a short wall in my bathroom. I blew through this project like a crazy woman, and unfortunately didn’t take many pictures, but it’s such an easy process, there’s really not a lot to explain.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

First, here’s my boring wall. Those of you who have ever made an attempt to take photographs in a tiny bathroom, know that it’s difficult, if not impossible to get good photos. In addition to straddling my toilet and sitting with my tush in the vanity sink to try to get decent angles, I have zip for natural light in this room, and color enhancement editing can only do so much. I hope you can use your imagination.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the wood I purchased for this project, some of it I had on hand, so I can’t really give a price on the total cost, but it was minimal. Pictured below is the wood I purchased.

At the top of the picture is the pieces I used for the battens, which is called mull casing, measuring 3/8 x 2 inches. Many people on google used lattice, but this is a bit thicker (and unfortunately more expensive) than lattice, and was the exact thickness as the top of my baseboard. Perfect. Pictured under the mull casing is a 1 x 2 piece of vinyl trim, and then a piece of decorative trim, both of which were in my garage. Free! (sort of) The bottom piece is a pine 1 x 4.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I cut all my pieces to size, primed both the wall and the trim, then put one coat of finish paint on them.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s highly unnecessary to paint a line this straight when it’s going to be one-hundred percent covered, but my OCD was kicking in. The photo is primer only.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

First, I tacked up two battens at the ends of the wall, one by the shower and one by my closet trim so my top piece would have something to rest on while I installed it.

This next photo shows how the top was assembled. I first attached the 1 x 2 to the top of the 1 x 4 with finish nails prior to hanging the 1 x 4 on the wall. This was much easier and in my case, safer for the drywall to do this step first. Then I attached the 1 x 4 to the wall (and into the studs) with screws placed close to the 1 x 2 on top. I then added the decorative trim under the 1 x 2 with finish nails, covering my screws. Easy sneezy!

 Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I added the last two battens after doing some math (yuck) to determine equal spacing. I used a level to make sure they were plumb. I sunk all the nails, spackled the holes, sanded and then primed over them. I caulked every crack where two pieces of trim met, and where every piece of trim met the drywall with paintable caulk. For tips on caulking refer to my post, “How to Caulk Your Bathtub“.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I added some cute little hooks from Hobby Lobby. You just have to love Hobby Lobby.

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here are the before and after’s. Ta da!

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Board and Batten for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This project didn’t take any time at all, but I only did one short wall. The rest of my bathroom is too chopped up with the vanity, toilet, shower, etc…to add this wainscoting to any of the other walls. It adds some interest to the bathroom and brightens it up. And with the hooks, it also adds some function. Love it!

If this isn’t your style, another type of wainscoting I’ve installed that’s a bit more formal is wall-frame wainscoting. Check out my tutorial here–Wall Frame Wainscoting Post.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub

I’m going to be honest. This post is not going rank real high in the excitement category. There’s no clever re-purposing, admirable up-cycling or stunning transformations. But this post is a must if you’re a homeowner. Caulking is today’s topic. Or more specifically, re-caulking, which is even higher on the yuck scale than caulking.

My son, Ross, mentioned that he needed his bathtub re-caulked. And I’m always looking for projects to post about, so here we go. There’s a right way and a wrong way to re-caulk…this I’ve learned from experience. And I can pass my nightmare experiences on to you so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Here’s our before picture. The caulk in this bathtub had cracked over time and had mildewed, turning this once almond-colored caulk into a lovely shade of apricot. If you don’t replace caulk that has cracked, water can seep into the cracks, and you can have rotting behind your tub. This can also turn your bathroom into a penicillin factory. And no matter how clean your tile and tub are, it’s hard to feel clean after showering with mildew growing at your knee caps.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Those of you who aren’t really into home improvement projects may be wondering if you can just caulk over the nastiness. Yes, if you like to caulk. Because you’ll be caulking over it again and again within a short time because it won’t adhere for very long to the old caulk. Then when you come to your senses and decide you’d better remove all the caulk and start again, you’ve got three times the caulk to remove. Not to mention it looks ridiculous when you pile layers of caulk on top of each other. If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time (per my HGTV idol, Mike Holmes).

So we begin by using a couple different tools. We use a utility knife to cut through the old caulk, being careful to hold the knife flat against the tub so as not to scratch it. I’m not going to lie. This really isn’t all that fun. Caulk can be pretty stubborn as your knife rolls right over the top of it, slashes it, sinks into it and chops it like a freaking Ninja, only to discover that it looks untouched after all that slicing and dicing. It just sits there. I would compare the frustration level to that of trying to open one of those produce bags at the supermarket. You just gotta keep plugging away.

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

Then we use this super-nifty razor holder to do a little more detailed cutting and cleaning. It works like a charm to clean off the tile and the top surface of the tub.

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once we remove all of the old caulk, we give everything a good brushing with an old toothbrush to get all the crumbs out of the cracks and off of all our surfaces. Getting all the old pieces of caulk cleaned up is important because particles that end up in the fresh caulk will be pretty ugly. Once crumbs get in the fresh caulk, there’s no way to remove them unless you wipe off the caulk and start again.

Here’s the area after the caulk has been removed, and the surfaces have been cleaned and dried. Caulk will not stick to dirty or wet surfaces (old caulk classifies as ‘dirty’ the way I see it).

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the caulk Ross bought. We actually took a string of the old caulk to the hardware store so we could get a color match, and the color “almond” is spot on!

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Important tip; be sure to get water-based caulk so you can wipe it with water to spread it, and so you can easily clean up any excess. And just as important; be sure to purchase caulk that is meant for bathrooms, so it will resist mold and mildew. Years ago I caulked my bathtub with some caulk that I had on hand. It wasn’t made for bathrooms, but my finished job looked beautiful with the bright, white caulk I used. It turned black within a month or two. Then guess what. I had to start all over again. (Mike Holmes would have made an extra trip to the store and bought the right stuff in the first place.)

A caulking job will be much less of a mess if you don’t cut the hole in your tube too big!! Start small. You can always cut the hole bigger. If you apply more caulk than you need, it makes a horrible mess. The smaller the crack, the smaller the hole you need.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Also note that the cut needs to be at a 45 degree angle.

 How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A tip if you’re purchasing a caulk gun is to make sure you get a gun with a poker on it, so you can poke a tube that hasn’t been used in a little while to get your caulk flowing again. I’m also not a fan of the guns that you have to push a button to stop the flow of caulk. It’s much easier to just stop squeezing the trigger. This caulk gun is the best one I’ve ever owned.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

When we caulk, we hold the gun at a 45 degree angle so our angled cut in the tube fits flat against our surface. If we don’t hold the gun at the correct angle we’re gonna know it. Our bead of caulk will come out in pieces and won’t adhere properly. It should be one beautiful, steady, intact bead, not a bunch of little worms.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

We move the gun at a slow but steady pace, squeezing the trigger gently and consistently. Then we smooth the bead with a wet finger asap. We caulk only one side of the tub at at time, smoothing the entire length of each side of the tub without lifting our finger. If you lift your finger before smoothing the entire length of each wall, you’ll have a lap mark where you stopped and started.

Caulk sets up very quickly, so we don’t dilly dally with the smoothing! We keep a container of water to dip our fingers in for smoothing. If we don’t have water on our finger, the edges of our bead will be jagged instead of nice and smooth. The edges of the smoothed caulk should disappear into the surfaces being caulked.

We keep a couple of rags nearby to wipe our hands. We don’t want to get caulk on our clothes because if we do, it’s there to stay.

Caulk has to stay dry anywhere from 24 to 36 hours after application, depending on the brand. That being said, you may want to shower before your caulking job if you only have one bathroom–or you could just go the stinky route if you’re mad at your family. I know someone who was getting their only bathroom remodeled one summer, and they would go outside after dark and take a bath in a wading pool in their back yard. I’m not promoting naked back yard kiddie pool bathing, I’m just throwing out some options.

So that’s all there is to it! It probably took two of us about an hour or so from start to finish for this little project. It looks so much better. Here are our before and after pictures.

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Caulk Your Bathtub / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

If you’ve never caulked before, no worries! If you’re a homeowner, you really should learn because I promise caulking is in your future. This is one of those DIY projects that nobody should be afraid to try. Reason being, if it turns out not-so-great, with your bead all layered-looking like frosting on a cake (don’t laugh, I’ve seen this more than once), never fear. You remove it, and try again. There’s enough caulk in a tube to caulk a bathtub several times, and a tube of caulk costs roughly $5. There’s quite a range of prices on caulk guns, but be warned that you get what you pay for when you’re talking caulk!

I was mortified when I started as an apprentice painter, and found out that caulking was going to be a routine part of my job because I had tried it before. I remembered years prior watching our siding guy caulking our window trim thinking how easy it looked. Well…I was in caulk up to my elbows, literally, when I tried it for the first time. What I didn’t know was that it just takes a little practice. Cut a small hole in the nozzle, smooth with a wet finger and all will be well.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.