DIY Solutions: Learn How To Remove Silicone Sealant

Creating new pieces around your home and repairing every kind of stuff can be a fun thing. If you like DIY projects, then you surely have heard of silicone sealant. Right? Well, do you know how to remove it from any surface? Even if you know the reasons why your bathroom smells and how to fix it or how to clean mould off walls, you can’t call yourself a real DIYer if you’re not able to take care of some old silicone sealant

A man holding a mastic gun applies silicone sealant on a surface

Silicone loses its effectiveness over time and needs to be replaced. It’s necessary to be done before any repair or installation if you want your plan to succeed! So, are you ready? Here’s how to remove sealant from any surface, tiles, walls, wood and what you have to do to remove mouldy silicone caulk. Let’s dive in!

Before you start

When removing silicone, you can’t just start scraping it off as you run a great risk of damaging the surface underneath. You need to clean the surface using some washing liquid first. Once it has completely dried, you must soften the silicone by applying a softening solvent. There are several substances you can use. However, you should choose one that is the most appropriate and compatible with the surface you are about to work on. 

A suitable softening solvent for hard surfaces like tiles, marble and concrete is mineral spirits. If you want to remove silicone from plastic or painted surfaces, though, you better apply isopropyl alcohol. Avoid using common alcohol as it won’t work. You can try industrial-grade isopropyl alcohol with 99% purity. Other silicone softening solvents you can apply are toluene and xylene.

However, you can use white vinegar. You can apply it to the silicone to soften it. But don’t expect to see the same results as mineral spirits. It will, though, help you remove a big part of it.

If you aren’t sure about the suitability of the solvent, try it in an inconspicuous spot before you use it on the entire surface. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before using any product to ensure that it’s appropriate for your surface. Don’t forget to check how much time it needs to work. 

Removing silicone sealant from tiles and walls

If you want to remove sealant from the tiles and walls, the most effective way is using a sharp knife, a chisel or a Stanley knife, in other words, a tool with a sharp blade. Using one of these remover tools, you can slice the old sealant. But that’s not enough. Some elbow grease is also necessary. Let’s see the exact process on how to remove sealant from, let’s say, your bathroom tiles.

An orange utility knife on a wooden surface

You are going to need:

  • Stanley knife
  • Chisel
  • White spirits (methylated spirits can also work well)
  • A pair of thick gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Cloth/ rag to clean surfaces

Once you’ve gathered all the tools, do as follows:

  1. Put on your gloves and eyewear and grab your knife
  2. Cut the old sealant gently, ensuring not to damage the surrounding area (the wall, your acrylic bathtub, etc.).
  3. After removing most of the sealant, there will probably be small strands left behind. Remove most of the leftovers with your hands or dampen a rag with white spirits and rub the surface to clean it. 

Extra tip: If you have to deal with multiple layers of sealant, use needle-nosed pliers instead of a knife. 

Taking silicone sealant off glass

Glass is a sensitive material that can be easily damaged while working on it or around it. Taking sealant off the glass is similar to tiles and walls. Keep in mind though that you have to be a little more careful if you don’t want to scratch it permanently. Are you ready? Have a look!

You’re going to need: 

  • Protective gloves and eyewear
  • A utility knife
  • A silicone sealant remover
  • A putty knife 
  • A sponge
  • Warm water
  • A teaspoon of liquid soap

Now, you can follow these steps:

  1. The first step is to put on your gloves and eyewear. Your safety comes first!! 
  2. Get the knife and place its blade parallel to the glass. 
  3. Carefully slide the blade underneath the silicone, as close as you can to the glass. Or, if you want, you can cut the silicone layer by layer, starting at the top layer. Get as much silicone as possible.
  4. Use a putty knife to scrape any remaining silicone.
  5. Damp a sponge with warm water and add a teaspoon of liquid soap. With the sponge, wipe the area where the silicone used to be and rinse with warm water afterwards. Let it dry completely and apply the new sealant if you want

Removing silicone caulk from wood

This material is also used to repair damages on wood, like holes and scratches. Plus, many people use it to seal the wooden surface and prepare it to be painted or varnished. But how can you remove the previous silicone caulking? Let’s see the process step-by-step!

A man removing silicone sealant from skirting board with a utility knife

You’ll need:

  • A hairdryer or a heat gun
  • A razor blade/ scraper
  • A caulk remover
  • A damp rag

Then:

  1. First, pull as much caulk as possible with your hands. 
  2. Next, you need to soften the caulk. Use a hairdryer or a heat gun to do so. Just be careful not to damage the finish of the wood. 
  3. After that, slice the caulk with the razor blade. Hold it at a low angle and cut large threads of caulk. Hold them with your fingers and pull them.
  4. Use the caulk remover to get rid of any single caulk leftover. 
  5. Finally, with a damp rag, rub the stubborn small caulk pieces.

How to remove mouldy silicone caulk residue

Since the sealant is used to protect the tiled walls, kitchen worktops, skirting boards, and other areas where water is usually found, there’s a chance of mould growth on the silicone surface. Humidity is mould’s ideal environment after all! If that’s the case, you need to clean the mould and then remove it as already mentioned. 

To clean off the mould, you need to mix warm water with bleach or an ammonia-free detergent, wipe the mouldy surface, and rinse with warm water. Or you can clean the area with a mould remover making sure that you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. After cleaning, you have to let the surface dry completely before continuing with the rest process. 

Replacing old silicone sealant with new

Applying silicone caulk to seal a laminate worktop and a tiled wall

Now that you know that taking care of the old sealant isn’t that hard after all, are you ready to learn how to replace it with new? Seriously! You are now ready to reseal. This is what you need to know!

Needed materials:

  • Masking tape
  • A mastic gun
  • A tube of silicone or bathroom sealant

The steps to successfully resealing are:

  1. Mask the sides of the worktop, wall, bathtub and so forth with masking tape.
  2. Place the silicone tube in the mastic gun and cut off the top. Squeeze for a while the trigger until you see sealant at the end of the tube. 
  3. Now, position the tube along the surface you want to seal and squeeze it. Move the gun along the surface, making sure you leave an even amount of sealant.
  4. Repeat the process until you cover the entire area you want.
  5. For a nice finish, dampen your finger and run it over the top of the silicone. Push the silicone slightly down to get a bowl-shaped finish. 
  6. Let it dry completely.
  7. Finally, wipe any residue and trim any rough surfaces with the Stanley knife

A close look of silicone sealant held by a man

You don’t need to be a plumber to replace the sealant around your tub or kitchen sink. You need a few easy to find tools and patience. Since you know how to remove silicone sealant you’ll be able to remove other fillers as well, like bathroom sealant and decorator caulk. All you need is a utility knife and a silicone remover. Go out there and start your repairing and renovating project! We’re sure that you’ll do a brilliant job! 

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