Caulk removal question

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by lottia, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. lottia

    lottia DIY Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    I'm replacing badly installed caulk in a tiled shower. Instructions for the new caulk call for a surface "clean of ... old caulk."

    How clean is clean? I'm now in my second day of removal and I'm only re-doing the wall-floor joint and the lower 3 tile-rows in the corners! I assume he used silicone as it's incredibly difficult to remove.

    The previous installer got a skim of caulk an inch from the joint, caulked a deep joint that needed a backer rod, and used caulk to cover up ragged edges that are very hard to get perfectly clean.

    He was a "pro" but not very professional! :(

    l
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    nothing will stick to silicone for very long...now you will have to decide how clean you want it...the cleaner it is the longer your new caulk will last...and don't use silicone to recaulk with...
  3. lottia

    lottia DIY Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    If not silicone, what caulk?

    Thanks. Why do you say not to use silicone? Other users of this forum recommend it. I'm confused. :confused:

    If not silicone, then what product(s) do you recommend. (I'm a fairly competent caulker with a good gun and painters tape at hand.)
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,245
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    caulk

    Silicone is a good caulk, it is just harder to do a neat job and clean up afterwards. You have to remove the old caulk with a scraper and then use a cleaner to remove ALL the soap scum and stuff from the surfaces.
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    It is not that you can't use Silicone it is just that it takes 3-4 times longer to remove it if you want the new caulk to stick where the old silicone was because silicone doesn't stick to silicone...

    I like Polyseamseal as when the times comes to redo it it removes much easier ...less time consuming...

    Take a razor blade and run it accross the cleaned tile to be sure the silicone is gone...

    Just my opinion....Silicone will work if you want to use it...
  6. lottia

    lottia DIY Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Thanks, Cass. Does Polyseamseal come in white? lottia

    :) My dog and I are getting to be familiar faces at our local hardware store!
  7. gronesy

    gronesy New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Antioch,TN
    Anything To Make The Job Easier?

    I have a shower that needs recaulking and the old clear silicone is coming off in tiny chunks using one of those plastic caulk removing tools.

    Is there anything that can be applied to old silicone to get it to come off any easier or any other suggestions you may have?

    I'm brand new to caulking and I had no idea this was going to take this long to remove let alone clean.

    Jeff
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Just good single edge razors and a lot of elbow greeze...you have to keep going over and over it...just when you think you got it all you change the angle of the blade and off comes a strip of silicone you didn't know was there...
  9. lottia

    lottia DIY Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    No kidding!?!! Here's a list of what I've tried so far to remove
    That ultra-thin film of silicone from the tile surface:
    • Scotch Brite Delicate Care scrub sponge (white, glass-safe) [good, once the bulk of the silicone has been removed with a blade]
    • single edged razor [good--but requires MANY repetitions and inspections to remove all the silicone film]
    • chisel-shaped Exacto blade [better--a 1/4" blade is stiff enough and narrow enough to get into invisible irregularities that a wider razor blade skims over]
    • dry paper toweling [minimally effective]
    • dry finger tip [minimally effective, but better than paper towel]
    • felt buffer wheel on Dremel tool [not effective]
    • erasers (pink and white) [not effective]

    The thick stuff from inside the joints:
    • chisel-shaped Exacto blade [good--1/4" blade stiff and narrow enough to both cut and pry (gently!)
    • utility knife--[good--especially for getting out the bulk that's inside the crevice]
    • single edged razor [fair--but requires MANY repetitions and inspections to remove all the silicone film]
    • needle nosed pliers [good--for getting out the bulk of caulk first loosened by a blade]
    • dissecting needle [fair--best for removing small flecks]
    • various grinders on dremel tool [not effective--bounces off silicone]

    It's probably worth pointing out that it's not really necessary to remove ALL old caulk, but only that where you want the new caulk to adhere. My installer had smeared caulk over an inch from the joint, so much of that probably wouldn't have been necessary to remove, if I hadn't been so compulsive!

    Also, it is important to use some kind of caulk backing in the crevice, if it's very deep. Unfortunately, I've found it hard to find in Seattle, even at specialty plumbing supply stores. However, it is available on the internet, if you don't need it yesterday.

    lottia
  10. Tub Refinisher

    Tub Refinisher Tub refinisher

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    Acetone will soften it up a bit. I also use 80 grit sandpaper, then wipe with acetone, then sandpaper again, and again, and again. You get to where you can feel the residue with your fingertip. Sometimes it's very hard to see.

    There are some softeners on the market, but I haven't found one that works very well. They're awful messy. I only use them when I can't sand, like on a shower door frame. They still take a lot of elbow grease.


    Barry
  11. lottia

    lottia DIY Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    Sandpaper?

    Barry, I'd be concerned about using sandpaper on ceramic tile or tub surfaces. Wouldn't it scratch the ceramic surface? lottia
  12. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I also would be concerned with using sandpaper on tile...someone who does it for a living may know how but you would need to be very carefull with it...
  13. ArchShelley

    ArchShelley New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    As an architect, I would never let anyone use sandpaper on the tile. Yikes! But, I have had to personally remove caulk and silicone and it is just a nasty time consuming job. But, if you don't do it right the first time you will have a much harder time dealing with it the second time. So, always do it right the first time. Cleaning the tub or tile is great, but always go over it with acetone last so it gets any of the residue left from the typical store bought cleaners like Soft Scrub. Can someone come over and do my tub? Ugh!:D
  14. Tub Refinisher

    Tub Refinisher Tub refinisher

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    Ceramic tile is pretty hard to scratch, but you can use 220 grit if you're worried about it, it'll just take longer. Besides, if you're careful, you should only be sanding an area that's going to be covered again with caulk anyway.

    Barry
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    A good hard unglazed porcelain could be harder than typical sandpaper, but any glazed tile would be scratched, and lesser porcelains, too. Try at your own risk...
  16. driz

    driz New Member

    Messages:
    36
    If You Have A Lot Of Razor Blade Digging buy A Scraper Handle

    You know, the long ones that fold and the straight edge blade slides into from the side. Car mechanics use them to scrape inspection stickers off quickly. They make handling a razor blade a lot easier than holding it in the tips of your fingers. It is also nice that you can retract the blade for storage so you don't get sliced fingers reaching into your junk drawer or tool box. They come in handy for all sorts of stuff around the house and you can get them at any hardware store.
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