October 29, 2020
We live in a three-dimensional world where surfaces come to meet forming seams. The same can be seen in interior design and décor, where the meeting of materials performs specific functions to customer satisfaction and has a purpose.
Like the installation of ceiling moulding between a horizontal ceiling and a vertical wall, providing an aesthetically pleasing element, all the while disguising imperfections. In the bathroom, however, performance is just as important. Bathroom sealants help to ensure that the bathroom, generally a wet environment, is protected from excess water seeping into the seams and fixings. This article will give guidance and advice on the most appropriate bathroom sealants for your home.
Bathroom seams and joins can be complex and sculpted. You also have to think about those between the windowsills, expansions joins in the floor and the walls, all of which must be protected from running water and damp.
Bathrooms can be crowded spaces with different materials used for different purposes. Sanitaryware, glass, wood, metal, ceramics and plastic surfaces are all found in the average UK bathroom.
To keep everything dry and clean, bathroom sealants are used to protect the joints between these materials, essentially repelling running water and damp. The range of bathroom sealants available today is vast due to the advances in materials.
Gone are the days when rubber or mastic was typically used to keep the damp out, with their limited life span and underwhelming performance. Nowadays, there is a wide range of products on the market. Bathroom sealants are available in tape and liquid form and are guaranteed to last, to perform and even resist fungal growth.
Silicone, not to be confused with silicon, is a polymer that has been around since the early 20th Century. First created in the laboratory, silicones today have applications that range from construction to car manufacture, medical and electronics uses, cooking and even in aerospace engineering.
Normally, colour-free silicone can have an oily or rubber like consistency. Its resistance to heat and water makes silicone suitable for environments like the bathroom. Care should be taken however, as commercial silicone sealants vary greatly, and manufacturer’s instructions should be carefully adhered to.
Silicone that comes in a tape or strip format with an adhesive backing is known as sealant tape. The use of sealant tape is recommended for more straightforward joints in the bathroom such as those between a bathtub and a tiled wall. Or the joint between a shower tray and the surrounding cubicle.
Sealant tape is provided with an adhesive backing and sometimes has a marked fold, making it easier to use on surfaces at right angles to one another. Sealant tape is also commonly referred to as caulking strip.
For more complicated sealing joints, the use of bathroom silicone sealant is recommended to cover the angles. The rubber, or fluid consistency, allows for a more flexible and three-dimensional seal to be created.
Silicone is normally supplied in a tube format and a silicone ‘gun’ will be required, which the tube sits in. After cutting the nozzle to the appropriate size matching the required width of the joint, the silicone can then be applied by pressing on the trigger. Make sure to wipe off any excess immediately.
To remove old silicone sealant tape, use WD-40 spray which should be applied liberally. White Vinegar can help remove any remaining residue on surfaces too. See below for recommendations for removing silicone sealant.
For the inexperienced, the Butech range of sealants is a good starting point. These high spec silicone sealants are specifically designed for different applications.
S-502 on the other hand is an acetic silicone putty recommended for water proofing perimeter joints in wall tile finishes and other bathroom objects. S-502 also has anti-fungal properties and can be used outdoors.
A Stanley knife or similar sharp cutting tool with a slim blade is required. Run the knife along the silicone joint to remove in strips. Make sure to remove any residue carefully making sure not to score the tiles, sanitaryware or other finishes. Before applying a new sealant, all the residue must be removed. A liquid silicone remover should be used for any stubborn patches. Keep repeating until completely free from silicone.
It depends on the consistency of the silicone sealant (how thick or dense it is) as well as the ambient humidity and temperature of the bathroom. On average however, it takes between 24 and 48 hours.
Applying a silicone sealant is relatively straightforward and does not require any special skills. It’s a job that may have to be repeated so learning to use a silicone ‘gun’ is a good idea. See bathroom silicone sealant above. Before starting the job, it is critical that all surfaces are dry and free from dust. Use masking or builders’ tape to set out the width of the silicone joint and protect the adjacent surfaces. With the nozzle of the silicone gun cut to size (preferably at 45°) make a continuous seal. Then while the silicone seal is still damp run a metal profile or a wet soapy finger, along the joint to ensure cohesive application. Then leave to dry for the recommended period which will depend on the product selected.
Over time, inevitably the sealant strip or tape will have to be cleaned. A non-abrasive fungal cleaner should be used, mould and mildew stain removers are ideal. Spray evenly over the length of the seal and leave for between 5 and 10 minutes to soak in. Use a sponge dipped in water to clean and leave to dry naturally.