Cured silicone is well known as a difficult compound to clear away from any surface. To remove this stubborn substance requires an intense effort. You need to scrap, pull and push and it can be a quite exhausting work.
After all, the role of silicone is to seep deep into the wood pores (as part of furniture cleaner or wax) to prevent the new finish substances to adhere and penetrate into the wooden surface. In other words the silicone is there for good and is extremely difficult to remove it.
Of course there are a wide range of industrial products that can dissolve silicon, but they are not safe for your health and it is recommended not to use them at home.
Silicone Caulk Removal
Silicone caulk has a long life span, but after several years it starts to wear out, and you have to remove it before applying a new fresh caulk. If you did that before then you should know that you can soften the caulk layer with household solvents but no solvent can dissolve it.
However, the silicone caulk can be easily removed if you soften the caulk with a large amount of solvents before removing. The next step is to cut it off using a utility knife and you can pull the pieces off with pliers.
When most of the silicon is cleared away, you can use a scouring pad and the same kind of solvent to clean up all remaining residues.
Let’s look at these steps in more detail:
1. Softening Solvents
a) For hard surfaces like concrete, marble or ceramic tiles – mineral spirits;
b) For painted surfaces and plastic – rubbing alcohol (it is harmless for the surface);
Silicone caulk has a special odor similar with the vinegar smell because, it contains acetic acid as well as vinegar. So, white vinegar can be used successfully to soften the silicone caulk. Perhaps it not works as well as rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits, but it poses no danger to the surface to which the silicone caulk adheres.
Lacquer thinner is another efficient solvent but it is recommended to be used with caution because it is quite strong and could damage the surface.
2. Cutting out the Silicone Caulk
As we saw above household solvents such as mineral spirits, rubbing alcohol and vinegar soften significantly cured silicone caulk. The caulk loosens its grip to the surface and that will make the silicone much easier to be cut off.
However, if you want to remove a stubborn silicone caulk you can either soak a cloth in the solvent and place the damp cloth on the caulk or can apply the household solvent a few more times on the caulk.
Once the silicone softens enough cut carefully as close to the surface as possible using a utility knife. Then you can pull easily the bead.
That is the most efficient and simplest way to remove a stubborn silicone bead.
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3. Removing Silicone Residue
Of course some residue will remain and that will prevent new caulk bead to adhere properly. Therefore, you should thoroughly clean the substrate before applying the new caulk bead.
Rubbing it with an abrasive pad or sandpaper isn’t a good option because the silicone tends to gather in small clumps that stick together and to the pad or sanding paper.
It is better to soak again the caulk residue with more alcohol, vinegar or mineral spirits to soften it and then you can scrape it easily using a sharp knife or a pull scraper.