Removing silicone caulk

Can we just talk about how awful and tedious that task is?

Before I could continue with the bathroom update, I had to remove all the existing silicone (on 18 surfaces/corners!), and re-do it. But, it’s not as simple and scraping it out and being done. Nay, ALL residual silicone had to be removed. Otherwise, new caulk will not properly adhere.

Enter, these tools:cailk removal tools

First, I cut each side with a sharp utility knife, and used a thin putty knife to scrape it out.

cutting side of caulk seam
cutting side of caulk seam

Here’s the thing, you don’t even SEE all the remaining silicone. It gets spread so thin. Luckily, mine was white, so it cast a light halo at some angles.

This tool (I don’t remember what it’s called), was so helpful for getting up the thin layers of silicone.

Thin blade to remove thin silicone
Thin blade to remove thin silicone

But, it wasn’t enough. I could still feel residual tackiness.

Enter, the star of the show! STEEL WOOL! I had some around from a previous project, and decided to give it a try. It worked so great, it didn’t gum up like the sandpaper I had tried, before.

I had been working on this, for about 8 hours (broken over a couple of days) when I found that if I wrapped the steel wool around the edge of my putty knife, I could give the corners a vigorous scrubbing. And give my poor claw hands a little bit of a rest.

Like so:Steel wool to remove silicone

Before steel wool and putty knife
Before steel wool and putty knife
After steel wool and putty knife
After steel wool and putty knife

After I felt confident that I got it (mostly) removed, I gave everything a wipe down with a scrubby sponge and acetone. No more silicone!

The next day, I re-caulked all of the seams that I had just de-siliconized. Which, kind of killed me inside.

I used the method of putting painter’s tape down, first, to keep my caulk like nice and clean. I only did this on one side, though.

Put the tape down where you’d like the caulk to stop, squeeze out the caulk into the seam, smooth out with finger/paper towel/tool, and then gently pull up the tape. Make sure to have a bag handy to put the tape in, because it will have caulk on it. frog's tape for clean caulk lines frog's tape for clean caulk lines frog's tape for clean caulk lines frog's tape for clean caulk lines frog's tape for clean caulk lines

Was this post as boring for you to read, as it was for me to do the project? Suffer with me. Anyways. The reason that I re-did it all, was to re-caulk with caulk that could be PAINTED!

1 thought on “Removing silicone caulk”

  1. I’m so happy to read this. This is the kind of details that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

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