Advice For Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing? - Kitchen & Bath Remodeling - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:22 PM   #1
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Advice for Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing?


Howdy Folks,
I have a vintage shower door that needs a little attention regarding resealing the door frame-to-glass area and I'd also like to clean up the actual frame surface.
Any tips on how to proceed to clean out the gunk, prepare the area, and apply the caulk? Any suggestions on how to clean the metal surface of the door frame?

The place was built in the late 1920s and one bathroom has the original shower door. The shower door frame is made from a non-ferous metal (aluminum?) and has a slight gold patina/haze on it (remnants of anodizing?). A few years ago the entire bathroom was renovated, new walls, floor, electric, plumbing, tiles, etc. I retained the original shower door, medicine cabinet, and sink because I liked their character.

I've cleaned up the shower door frame in the past but delayed resealing the glass: I'd like to get it fixed this week and would appreciate some advice on how to go about it.

Cleaning and Prep:
Any tips on how to clean out the door frame-to-glass channel? Techniques? Chemicals? How to best prep it for resealing? Should I treat the area with anything first (like some sort of disinfectant or mold/mildew killer?).

A roommate has been using the bathroom and frankly he's pretty dirty, lol. When I inspected it a couple days ago, the bottom of the door frame was holding water as there's no effective door frame-to-glass seal and what's left in there is basically crud, soap scum, and perhaps residue of the original seal, (plus maybe mold and/or mildew?). I used a bunch of paper towels to wick out the excess water lying inside the bottom of the door frame and used a putty knife to scrape out some of the crud. I have some artist's palette knives that are offset and will fit flush against the glass to better reach down into the frame to scrape the old crud out. I've instructed my roommate not to use the shower and the door frame has been drying now for a couple days.

Sealant:
I went shopping for silicone at Home Depot. I figured grey or black colored silicone would look best and settled on black. The only black silicone they had was GE Silicone II, which I bought. I'm not sure if it's the best product recommended for this application. Should I go forward with it or is there a better product for this application? Oh BTW I have the really good Home Depot caulking gun.


Shower Door Frame Surface:
As mentioned the frame is nonferrous. I have no idea how poorly it was maintained over the last 90 years. I've used cleaning agents on it and also recall using some scotchbrite pads (?) a time or two in some tough areas. Tenants before, me, myself, and Time have likely worn away a good deal of whatever protective surface the frame originally had. It's got some green sort of tarnish on it in areas, and other areas are looking dull. The outside has some staining which is acceptable and perhaps adds character, however part of the inside of the door has turned green and I'd like to remove that.

For now, I'd like to just clean as much gunk as I can out the channel in the frame & seal the glass with silicone, and do a cursory clean up of the frame.
Perhaps at a later date (next year) I can do a deep surface cleaning of the frame and refinish it with a coat of lacquer.

Thanks a bunch for any ideas and guidance!
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:23 PM   #2
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Re: Advice for Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing


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Old 11-08-2017, 09:33 AM   #3
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Re: Advice for Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing


Not seeing much hope for that one.
I guess you could try using some CLR and a non abrasive scrubbing pad to see what happens.
Clear silicone with mildewcide to try and reseal the glass.
By now all the clear coat is worn off of that anodized finished so the issue will keep coming back, to slow it down I'd try wiping the metal down with paste car wax.
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Old 11-08-2017, 10:18 AM   #4
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Re: Advice for Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing


Im with joe...CLR is your friend. Far as sealing it after you clean-car wax is my recommendation but that will need to be applied periodically. Do it for now and come back and deep clean and use some special paint and seal properly.

Im not sure if it's luck of the draw but I just got done submerging an old faucet I pulled out of the ground when landscaping-I cleaned it up with CLR and it looks like the stuff might have taken some of the original sheen/finish off. Not sure if this will happen with the brass look...just an FYI

I like your style!
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Old 11-08-2017, 01:23 PM   #5
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Re: Advice for Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Not seeing much hope for that one.
I guess you could try using some CLR and a non abrasive scrubbing pad to see what happens.
Clear silicone with mildewcide to try and reseal the glass.
By now all the clear coat is worn off of that anodized finished so the issue will keep coming back, to slow it down I'd try wiping the metal down with paste car wax.
That sounds like a good immediate plan. Down the road when/if I have the time & $$ , I can try to disassemble the door, clean everything out, perhaps buy new glass and take measures to correctly mount it with a suitable insert, plus deep clean and clear coat the door frame, then reassemble everything.

Btw someone mentioned using a 'high alkaline cleaner' to clean the gunk out of the door frame channel that holds the glass. Is this a different product than you're recommending?
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Old 11-08-2017, 01:24 PM   #6
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Re: Advice for Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing


Quote:
Originally Posted by add50317 View Post
Im with joe...CLR is your friend. Far as sealing it after you clean-car wax is my recommendation but that will need to be applied periodically. Do it for now and come back and deep clean and use some special paint and seal properly.

Im not sure if it's luck of the draw but I just got done submerging an old faucet I pulled out of the ground when landscaping-I cleaned it up with CLR and it looks like the stuff might have taken some of the original sheen/finish off. Not sure if this will happen with the brass look...just an FYI

I like your style!
Thanks for the confirmation and the head's up. I'll test it on an inside surface.
Thanks for the compliment.
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Old 11-08-2017, 08:42 PM   #7
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Re: Advice for Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing


Use A paint stripper like Back To Nature Tough to Strip it will clean the crud off. Than use Hot Vinegar to further clean it.
When it is VERY clean have it Powder Coated.
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Old 11-08-2017, 09:51 PM   #8
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Re: Advice for Restoring Vintage Aluminum(?) Shower Door: Caulking, Cleaning, Sealing


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovegasoline View Post

Btw someone mentioned using a 'high alkaline cleaner' to clean the gunk out of the door frame channel that holds the glass. Is this a different product than you're recommending?
CLR is acidic, mainly Lactic Acid. High alkaline means a high pH, the opposite of CLR.
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