Removing caulk: Tips for easier removal for Atlanta DIYers

Many Atlanta residents are looking to optimize their household energy efficiency to help lower utility...

Many Atlanta residents are looking to optimize their household energy efficiency to help lower utility bills. Regardless of the season, it is best to fill in any gaps, cracks and/or holes inside the house that are leaking air to and from the outside. Sometimes, you have to remove worn, discolored or molded/mildewed caulking before properly filling these voids with fresh caulk. The process of removing caulk is often tedious; however, there are different solutions for the various kinds of caulk.

Caulking types

Caulking is a filler material used to repair, seal and prevent moisture and damage. There are many kinds of interior/exterior caulk used for different purposes. Three of the most common interior types of caulk are as follows:

  • Acrylic latex caulk: This type of caulk comes in different colors and is primarily used to fill in small gaps in wood trim, molding and baseboard. This is for wood, plaster, drywall and masonry
  • Silicone caulk: Silicone caulk is moisture and mold/mildew resistant, so it is ideal for tubs and showers and other moisture-exposed areas. This cannot be painted and comes in a variety of colors. It is for non-porous surfaces only such as ceramic, glass and metal.
  • Siliconized acrylic latex: This is a multi-purpose caulk because of its composition and adheres to almost any surface, including brick, ceramic, vinyl, aluminum, plaster, drywall, concrete, wood, glass and metal. The silicone ingredient gives it a degree of moisture resistance good for use in places throughout the home.

Removing caulk

Different kinds of caulk require different removal strategies. The following are two methods.

Acrylic latex caulk removal / Siliconized acrylic latex removal:

  1. Place a wet cloth on the caulking and allow it to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Use a scraper and/or a sharp-edged cutting tool, working its edge underneath a corner of the caulk.
  3. Slowly attempt to remove the caulk, taking care not to damage the other surfaces. If you're having trouble, use a caulk remover. Caulk remover softens the caulk, making it easier to remove. It's best to soak the caulk using the directions provided on the remover.
  4. After scraping off as much caulk as possible, apply isopropyl alcohol to any remaining. Avoid the other surfaces to prevent damage, and allow the caulk to absorb the alcohol. Then use a mesh pot scrubber or sponge and warm, soapy water to scrub off any residual caulk.

Silicone caulk removal:

  1. Use a sharp cutting tool to scrape and shave off as much caulk as possible.
  2. Use needle-nose pliers or tweezers to help remove hard-to-reach caulk.
  3. Residue will be difficult to remove and may involve the use of different tactics. Some suggestions to help loosen stubborn caulk include WD-40, oven clean/water mixture, chemical powdered/water mixture, acetone, mineral spirits, Mr. Clean magic erasers and caulk removers. Whenever applying a chemical to clean up, use a cotton swab for application, keeping it only on the caulk to prevent damage the other surfaces.

Browse Kudzu for other tips and guides or to find a professional painter in Atlanta.

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