How to silicone seal a shower
Hands up who's done battle with silicone sealant. Everyone? This Plumberparts guide will help you keep the sealant in the shower, and not on you.
What a silicone seal does
Silicone sealants are wonder products that are waterproof and bond well to most surfaces, including your favourite jeans. We trust them to keep the water inside our showers and baths by sealing between shower screens and the tray or around a bath edge and a tiled wall. Silicone sealant has some flexibility, so, for example, if there's a bit of shower screen movement going on (and I mean tiny movement!), the sealant can handle it without leaking.
There are different types of silicone out there. For sealing a shower, you might want the sanitary silicone that's designed for areas that are frequently exposed to moisture. It even includes a fungicide to reduce mould. Fancy!
How to prepare surfaces for silicone sealant
You want to make sure that the surfaces for your sealant are dust-free and dry. I use a hoover; just take care not to scratch your shower, and wipe over with a just-damp sponge an hour or two before using the sealant. That way the dust from the building work is removed and you have the best possible surface.
If you're re-doing an old silicone seal then use a window knife to cut away the old seal. Take time over this part of the job because it's the preparation that really affects the outcome on this task.
How to apply silicone sealant
Start out with a decent silicone gun. This bad boy does the trick. It might be a few pounds more expensive than the cheapest, but you'll have greater control over the silicone, it takes longer tubes and is going to last you through all of your plumbing jobs.
When you get your tube of silicone, you want to cut it open at a 30-40 degree angle so that you have an opening around 8mm, which gives you a manageable amount of silicone flow. Pop it in your gun, squeeze the silicone up to the top.
Grab a strip of blue towel, kitchen roll or at a pinch, loo roll and fold up one end to make a kind of pad, pop to one side and you're ready to apply the silicone. If you've not done this before, practise somewhere it doesn't matter first!
Run the line of silicone from the corners outwards. It's going to look like more than you need, but here's my secret weapon for a professional finish: a silicone profiler. Not your fingers, folks! That way mould lies!
I usually use a larger silicone profiler such as the 12mm one and run that along the silicone, giving it a clean edge and taking off the excess. This, I wipe on the blue towel we prepared earlier in true Blue Peter fashion, It's much easier to start with a larger silicone profile and then work down to the size you want. If there's any air bubbles, pop some more seal in that area and smooth off the silicone with your profiler.
I usually then run a smaller profile such as the 10mm over again, giving a super neat profile. You can see how I do this in my YouTube video. Result!
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