Applying silicone - how I should do it better next time.

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gfw

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Ok, on my "Where is my Leak" thread I eventually determined that the leak in my shower was the grab bar, which had cracks in the weld.
However, if my silicone application had been right, it never would have been a problem. So I figured a separate thread about how to get a good seal with silicone might be in order.

On the face of it, this should be easy! A flat ring (aka an annulus) of stainless steel with five screws through it and the wall.
I had completely coated that screw plate with a decent layer of silicone and then I'd screwed it in good and tight to the 2x4 blocking I'd put in the wall for it.
The screws dragged some of the silicone into the holes in the shower wall, so I figured I was good - silicone under the plate continuing around the screw threads.

But when I took the grab bar down, I found large areas without silicone. I *suspect* I made the following mistakes.
1. I don't recall doing surface prep on the stainless steel. It was new and I assumed it was clean. Probably dumb.
2. I screwed it in pretty much as tight as possible thinking "of course that's what you want in a grab bar"! It seems that all the excess silicone was squeezed into the center, and thus inside the grab bar. It didn't squidge out to the sides.

So what I think I should do next time is
1. Better surface prep! Any suggestions? I'm thinking soap & water, then water, then rubbing alcohol.
2. Stop short a turn or two when screwing it in, wait a full day for the silicone to dry, then finish tightening the screws. That would tighten it up against a solid pad of silicone instead of forcing the silicone out of the way. Does this make sense? Is this a general rule with silicone and things that can be tightened?

Thanks!
 

oldognewtrick

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If you didn't clean any residual silicone from a previous application, that could very well be the issue. Silicone will not stick to silicone. There are many superior caulks on the market that perform well in a damp application.
 

gfw

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Sorry, I wasn't clear - this was a brand new grab bar onto a brand new wall. I don't think I did a good enough job of surface prep, but removing old silicone was not part of the problem.
 

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