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BillK40 10-21-2006 11:09 PM

Removing Silicone Caulk...
I've got a bathtub that I suspect was caulked with a silicone caulk by the builder. What is the best product to use to completely remove the silicone residue? We've used denatured alcohol (not sure this helped) and a product called Lift-Off, which seemed to help, but really didn't get me all the way there.

Any ideas?

mdshunk 10-21-2006 11:12 PM

I don't think that a solvent exists for cured silicone that won't also dissolve the tub. Careful scrubbing and scraping is the typical route. Some people have reported good results from acetone (nail polish remover). Check to make sure that it's compatible with the tub finish if you're working with an acrylic or fiberglass gelcoated tub.

LanterDan 10-22-2006 12:08 AM

As md says, I'm not aware of any product that will disolve the caulk. Both methanol (and think other alcholols would be similar) and acetone can help some, but not alot. What beleive happens in this case that you are causing the caulk to swell some, which can cause it beak its bond to the wall/tile/tub/etc. I can say that I once worked in a lab where we had several acrylic water tanks (much like plastic fish tanks), where a silicone RTV was often used as a sealant. We used both methanol and acetone to clean optical windows in the tanks, and if you accidently got any on the silicone you where likely to develop a leak. But even then the silcone stayed stuck to the tank and was a pain to scrape off in order to reseal it.

BillK40 10-22-2006 06:58 AM

Thanks guys.

My situation is that I've removed all the original caulk between the tub and tile and have cleaned/re-caulked a number of times. Each time, more of my new caulk sticks but there's now a lenght along the back part of the tub that still seems to have a problem.

Liquid Sandpaper was suggested by a contractor friend. Any experience with this?

Ron The Plumber 10-22-2006 08:02 AM

Try goofoff found in painting dept of you Home Improvment stores.

majakdragon 10-22-2006 09:34 AM

I agree with all the above posts. I have always used denatured alcohol as it removes soap scum that can negate the adhesion of new silicone. I have found that using the "cheap" plastic putty/drywall knives (from the Dollar Store) helps remove thin layers of old silicone. They also do not scratch the surface and can be "sharpened" with a file or grinder to get a nice edge.

BillK40 10-22-2006 11:15 AM

Thanks guys!

Just for clarification, all of old caulk (suspected to be silicone) has been completely removed. It's the trace amounts of residual silicone that cannot be seen that needs to be removed from the surface so that latex-based caulk can adhere to those surfaces.

Thanks again!!

Double A 10-23-2006 12:12 AM

Best way to get old silicone off is by abrasion. Silicone doesn't stick to cured silicone well. Try every trick in the book, but don't scratch the tub. Heck, try an eraser. Once you get it off, let that area dry out well. If there is moisture present, the silicone will not bond. Same goes for dirt.

You might try this stuff out.

Says it works, but might soften plastics. Test and use with care.

canadaclub 10-23-2006 02:24 PM

Just last week I ran into a similar problem and tried Mr.Clean magic eraser. It worked pretty good but took a few sponges because they tend to crumble.

KUIPORNG 10-23-2006 03:04 PM

Use THE HIGH SPEED ROTATING TOOL WITH THE GROUT REMOVER HEAD(I forget the formal name of this tool).... with 6000 cps, nothing get into its way... but this tool is not expensive...

dougrus 10-23-2006 03:53 PM

Just curious...
From what I understand, Silcone caulk exibits superior performance to latex in an area of high water exposure, like for instance, a tub surround. Not siliconized caulk mind you, but 100% silicone caulk.

jfwilliams 05-04-2009 11:51 AM

Removing Silicone Caulk
I'm a perfectionist. So it all had to be GONE. And there was a lot to get rid of. I was working on a 70-year-old porcelain over cast iron tub. For the record, I'm chemically sensitive, so I have to be careful what I use other than elbow grease and water. Here's how I did it.

1. Use a utility razor knife to make a vertical cut and horizontal cut to remove the bulk of the grout. Pull it out.

2. Use the same knife to remove as much of the grout as you can from the surrounding tub and tiles. If you end up making one of those little graphite marks on the porcelain with the knife, don't worry, just "scrub" it out with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

3. After you're down to that remaining, and stubborn, "skim" of caulk, apply Citra-Solv Concentrate to it with a paper towel. Citra-Solv is a natural ingredient and environmentally-friendly solvent. Wait a minute or two and then hit it again with the razor knife. With just a little effort, it will slide right off.

4. Clean with an environmentally friendly spray cleanser and dry. (I use a little Dr. Bronner's liquid soap with water in a spray bottle.)

As a final flourish, run over the newly cleaned area with the magic eraser. You can then run your finger over it and it should be smooth as a baby's bottom. Otherwise, back to step 3.

There! That'll teach you, you stubborn silicone caulk residue!

clarkbj 11-17-2009 02:19 PM

I too like to have all the silicone residue gone from the porcelain tub. After removing a shower door track I tried to remove all the silicone to reinstall the track on a clean surface. Using the good old razer blade was not good enough so I decided to use WD40 which I have used before for cleaning sticky glue surfaces. This product work fantastic on my types of glue and worked great on helping to remove the residue. Just make sure you have a ventilated area as it does have a strong order but worth it.

joey cabrera 12-26-2009 04:46 PM

Removing silicone sealant
Rotary steel brush on an electric drill is very effective. I used a cup steel brush in cleaning up the ceramic tile adhesive from our shower formica walls and it is so much easier than scraping. You can also use paint removing mesh pads except they can be more aggressive than the steel bristles.

dgun357 01-16-2010 04:14 PM

Removing Silicone
I have seen good results with a product called DSR-5. See the attached link. We used this product with silicone applied to glass and to aluminum, and saw pretty much 100% silicone removal.

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