Full Bathroom Reno Day 9: How to Remove Dried Thinset and Caulk Shower and Tub

When we last left off, we had just applied the waterproof band with thinset. It needed 24 hours to dry, so we didn't do any work on the next day since we finished this task around midnight. Another two days passed due to outside personal commitments, so I started back up work 3 full days later. Jake was at the deer lease (hunt, remember?) so I flew solo for day 9.

cement board with kerdi waterproof tape

I needed a clear space, because the next step was caulking the seam around the top of the cement board to the ceiling, and the seam around the bottom of the cement board to the tub. I started by removing the furniture blanket and blue tape, and found a grizzly surprise. Some of the thinset had glued the blue tape to the tub. In some areas, some of the thinset even slipped under the tape and blanket, directly adhering to the tub. The bathtub we chose is enameled steel, which had many pros, but the one major con is that it scratches very easily. In fact, we even had to return the first tub, because there were preexisting scratches on it that we found after I had brought it home. When I went to exchange it, another tub at the store had scratches on it. So, that tells you something about how easily it scratches- it took three tubs to get it right.

cement board with kerdi waterproof tape

I tried peeling the blue tape up, but it only worked where there wasn't much thinset. In the corners, the thinset dripped and pooled causing an almost concrete like solid. I worked very carefully and patiently (not my best virtue!) with a plastic putty knife on the right corner first. After about 30 minutes, it came up, tub unscathed, thank goodness.

how to remove dry thinset from enameled steel tub

The left corner was much, much worse. When Jake was applying the thinset to the walls, I noticed this corner kept pulling up. I kept putting new blue tape over it, and unfortunately it resulted in a horrible mess of layers: tape, thinset, tape, thinset, tape, thinset.

how to remove dry thinset from enameled steel tub

how to remove dry thinset from enameled steel tub

I worked very carefully and slowly on this corner as well, chipping away a little at a time.

how to remove dry thinset from enameled steel tub

After about 3 hours and slow, steady work, this corner was cleared as well, with no scratches. Lesson learned: be sure to tape and cover all parts of the tub perfectly, and pull up the protective coverings as soon as you're done. If you're worried about drips, tape down a new protective covering, and pull up once dry. The mistake we made was letting it sit and harden.

how to remove dry thinset from enameled steel tub

enamel steel tub cement board kerdi tape

Once that mess was cleared, I taped the top and bottom seams with two lines of blue tape, covering the tub with a plastic sheet. The two lines created a barrier and guideline for me, so I wouldn't get too much caulk on either side. Also, once I pulled up the tape, it would leave a clean line of caulk.

how to caulk tub flange and cement board
I put the waterproof silicone caulk meant for bathrooms in the caulk gun, and went to work.

how to caulk tub flange and cement board

I applied the caulk in short sections, and went back and smoothed it out. The best way to smooth it is to have a small bowl of water ready and rags or paper towels. I wet my finger, then ran it over the caulk to smooth it. Be sure to have plenty of rags or towels- it can be a messy process!

how to make a smooth caulk line

Meanwhile, Tex was peeking in to see what was going on.

tex hunt and home
I repeated the caulking all along the two seams, sealing my surround. One tip I learned while doing this is that it's best to work in small sections, and pull up the tape as you go. The caulk I used was fast drying (within 30 minutes) so if the tape stayed on too long it could end up pulling off some of the caulk.

bathroom reno enamel steel tub cement board

bathroom reno cement board kerdi

enamel steel tub cement board

how to caulk ceiling and cement board in shower

This was my first time caulking, so it took me quite a while- about 3 hours. Normally, it should take about 45 minutes to an hour, if you're quicker. But, all in all, I was very glad to learn this skill because there are so many places that are caulked in a home, and they tend to yellow over time. Now, I can easily re-caulk any areas I please! This caulk is shower ready in 30 minutes, if it is 3/16" thickness or less. Since some areas were thicker than that, I went ahead and let it dry overnight, just to be safe. One step closer to a new shower!

how to caulk shower and bathtub

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