Futureproofing your bathroom
Bathrooms are a constant drain on resources for most landlords, and often the most problematic room in any flat. But many of the problems can be easily prevented by being pro-active, anticipating further problems, and using the correct materials when performing repairs.
So, next time the silicone lets water down the back of the bath and into the flat below, follow this simple procedure. First, thoroughly clear any old sealant out from the gap, scrape the surfaces with a Stanley knife, then clean with a scouring pad and detergent to remove all traces of soap scum, loose tile grout or mould. Next fill the bath with water. A bath can contain up to ¼ tonne of water, and this can make it sink slightly and open up the gap between the bath and tiles. This can tear the silicone away from the gap once it is set. The bath is filled BEFORE siliconing to avoid this, allowing more silicone in, meaning it will be in slight compression (safe) when the bath is empty, and not in tension (danger of tearing) when the bath is full. Next, wipe the gap dry with a clean cloth, then allow it time to dry completely. Now you are ready to apply the silicone!
I always use a good quality one-part silicone sealant, never ‘acrylic silicone’ or other cheaper non-branded products. This really does matter! The good ones are far more adhesive and more resilient, and have better fungicides also. I prefer Dow-Corning but others may be just as good. Be sure to allow sufficient time for it to set before emptying the bath. 24 hours is good, longer if you can.
Note that ALL movement joints in a shower or wetroom should be siliconed. This means where two walls meet, or where a wall joins the floor. It is easier with silicone than with grout, anyway!
Finally I like to grout after the silicone has been set.
Next week I will explain what to do if the damp problem has spread beyond the silicone and into the walls, or if tiles have become loose.