How to Remove and Replace Caulk

Whether you are upgrading your bathtub or fighting mildew around your kitchen sink, properly removing and reinstalling caulk is important. Caulk is installed after installation of a bathtub or sink that fills the space between the wall and the bathtub to keep water, insects, and dirt from getting into the crack. Over time, caulk can begin to mold and crack. It is no longer effective and needs to be removed.

How to Remove Caulk

Starting out, use a scraper tool or a screwdriver to help you remove the caulk. A razor blade would also be effective, but you need to wear heavy-duty gloves to prevent injury to yourself. Whatever tool you use to remove the caulk, make sure it is sharp and new. Having a new, sharp knife will not only help remove the caulk, but it will prevent any damage to the surfaces. This is a time-consuming process. You will want to remove as much of the caulk as possible. You can purchase a caulk remover to help you. Do not rush and do not expect it to come off easily. Carefully, begin to cut and scrap off the caulk. After you have removed as much as possible, there are resources around your house that can be used to remove the rest of the caulk.

The type of caulk will determine what resources you will use to remove it. There are three types of caulk:

  1. non-acrylic water-based caulk
  2. polyvinyl acetate caulk
  3. silicone caulk

If you have non-acrylic water-based caulk, use water-soaked rags to soften up the caulk. You will need to leave the rags on the caulk for at least three days.

If you have polyvinyl actetate caulk, you can use isopropyl-rubbing alcohol to help you remove it. The alcohol makes the caulk swells. Be careful with the rubbing alcohol because it is easily flammable and can even ignite on its own.

Silicone caulk is the hardest caulk type to remove because of its compound molecules. You can use oven cleaners to remove. However, the cleaners can dull many bathroom and kitchen surfaces. Be careful around plastic laminate tops, acrylic and fiberglass tub and shower units. Foam sealant works well with removing all of the types of caulk. Work around the tub, toilet, and sinks carefully.

After you have removed all of the caulk, use a non-metallic abrasive pad and whip the surface down with a rag. If you are removing the caulk because of a mold problem, just cutting away the caulk will not stop the mildew. It has to be killed properly before you lay your new caulk or the entire removing process would have been for nothing. Use bleach to kill any mold between the wall and the bathtub. When using bleach to kill mold, mix 1/3 of a cup of bleach with a gallon of water. You can also use rubbing alcohol to help remove the mold. Purchasing a mold killer product from a hardware store can also be helpful. Make sure the area is properly cleaned before bleaching.

Replacing Caulk

Now, you are ready to replace the caulk. This process will not take as long as removing the old caulk, but you still want to be careful as you replace it. The first step in the replacement process is to pick the right caulk. You need a product that is will not mold and will stay strong no whether it’s the fifth day or 600th day it has been on your bathtub. Use silicone that has a mold and mildew inhibitor. It is going to be around moisture so you need a product that will not become mildew. In order to use the caulk, you need to prepare both the caulk and the surface. Make sure the surface is clean and smooth.

Take the cartridge and cut it open on the tip. There should be lines on the tip. These indict how big the size of the hole will be that the caulk comes from. After you have prepared the cartridge, you will want to puncture the hole. Either you can use a knife, needle, or the caulking gun’s piercing tool. Place the cartridge in to the gun and get ready to lay the caulk.

To lay the caulk, you will place the tip of the nozzle at the corner of the surface. You will than squeeze the trigger. Watch your finger pressure. You want to move the caulking gun slowly and evenly across the surface. Move the gun slowly toward you. You want the caulking to go on smoothly.

It does not always go on smoothly. You will need to smooth the caulking with either your finger or a caulking joint this is called tooling. You should use a Bead Tamer in order to oil the entire surface. Spray it on the surface before you begin tooling. Give the caulking time to dry before you take your shower or wash the dishes. Great job on your caulking work.

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