How to Properly Seal Your New Tub or Shower

Maybe you’ve just installed a beautiful new bathroom, or perhaps you’re beginning to dream about finally starting on the bathroom remodel you’ve always wanted. Complete remodels and smaller renovations alike can refresh your space. 

Many bathroom remodeling projects include a new shower or tub. Showers and tubs are going to get wet, obviously, so the most important thing to do after you’ve got your new shower is to protect it from all that water. That’s right—you’ve got to seal it! We’ve put together a helpful primer on how to seal a tub or shower. 

What to Know Before You Start

When you or your contractor installs the new tub or shower, including fixtures and a shower door, waterproofing should be included in each step. Make sure to use the appropriate backboard for bathroom spaces and tile, and install it according to directions. Use a one-piece shower pan with a proper slope to the drain to prevent pooling. Be sure to install flashing at all the points where materials meet. Assume water can and will splash all around your shower or tub! And if this all seems like a little too much to handle on your own, we recommend leaving things up to a reliable contractor.

Sealing Your Shower or Tub

Once everything has been installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you’ll need to seal everything properly. But what’s the best way to seal a shower or tub?

Start with reading up on the type of material used in your new shower. You’ll need to treat natural stone such as granite, slate, travertine, or marble differently than porcelain tile with grout. For natural stone, you’ll want to use a penetrating sealant that soaks into the stone. Follow the instructions and work in a ventilated room. Natural stone will need to be resealed about once a year to keep your beautiful stone shower or tub looking like the spa-like natural retreat you designed it to be.

Caulk designed for the shower should be used anywhere water will settle, such as where the wall meets the lip of your new soaking tub, for example, or along the wall seams. And whether you’ve got tile or stone, tub or shower, if you’ve got tile, you’ll need to seal your grout. 

Preparing to Seal a Shower or Tub

You’ll want to start with clean surfaces to make sure you’re not sealing in dirt or mold. Grab an old toothbrush and some warm soapy water and start at the top. If you’re dealing with stains, you can use a product designed for grout or a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Once the tile and grout are clean, allow the shower to dry thoroughly for an hour or so.

Applying the Sealant

As with natural stone, you’ll want to choose a penetrating sealer for your grout. Membrane sealers would seem to be a perfect choice, as they create a membrane on top of the surface, but they can also trap water behind the seal and become an ideal place for mold to grow. 

Different arrangements of tile and grout will necessitate different types of applicators. If you have narrow grout lines, you can use a small brush or a sealant that comes with an applicator. However, if your grout lines are wide and you’re trying to cover a lot of space, a sponge should work.

The best way to apply sealant to a shower or tub is to start at the top right and work your way right and down like you’re reading the grout lines. While this step might get a little boring, it’s essential to be fairly methodical so you don’t overlap or miss any spots. While you’re working, remove sealant that gets onto glazed tiles within a few minutes so it doesn’t form a fog or film.

Once you’ve done the entire shower or tub once, let it dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer’s directions. Let your arms rest for a bit, and then repeat the entire process. Once you’ve allowed everything to dry one more time, test for beading water. You may need to apply one more coat of sealer if water doesn’t bead on the surfaces you’ve sealed. When you’ve finished, allow the tub or shower to remain dry for at least 24 hours.

Keeping Your Tub or Shower Beautiful

The best gift you can give yourself besides that lovely new shower or tub is to keep it clean every time you use it. Dry surfaces with a towel or invest in a squeegee and remember to repeat the sealing process annually. 

If you’re thinking of creating the tub or shower of your spa dreams, or your bathroom needs a couple of updates, Harkraft can help. Contact us today to learn more about our array of bathroom fixtures and finishes, and let our years of experience be your guide.