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Fix it Friday: 3 Ways to Remove Old Caulking

Removing old caulking is a task you’ll need to take on as the first step when installing new fixtures in the kitchen or bath, or when replacing caulking that has gone moldy. As with many maintenance chores around the house, you’ll find that everyone has their preferred method for getting the job done.Before you begin, take a moment to try and discern what type of caulk you will be removing, either silicone-based or water-based. The difference is in the feel of it. A silicone-based caulk feels rubbery to the touch, while the water-based variety feels harder. This is important to know when you want to remove the caulking with either a chemical remover or heat, since these methods can be more effective on certain types of caulk than others.

Here are three commonly used ways to remove old caulking.


Chemical Caulk Remover

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Tools Required: Chemical caulk remover, caulk scraper or putty knife

To use this method, apply a generous amount of caulk remover onto the caulk, taking care to cover the caulk entirely. Allow it to sit for the time recommended on the bottle (usually a few hours). Then, pull the old caulk away, gently scraping any stubborn spots with your scraper as needed. NOTE: When working with chemicals it is always best to wears gloves and ensure that the room is well ventilated.

Remove Caulk With Heat

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Tools Required: Good quality hairdryer, caulk scraper or putty knife

Set your hairdryer to its highest setting and heat up a small section of the caulk. You’ll want to heat it for about 40 seconds. Then use your caulk scraper to remove the section.

Note: Heat tends not to be as effective on newer types of silicone caulk.

Elbow Grease

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Tools Required: Caulk Scraper or putty knife

Caulk can be removed without chemicals or the use of heat. You’ll need a tool (such as a caulk scraper), some elbow grease and patience.

Begin by selecting a place to start (usually a corner). Place the blade of your scraper flat against the surface (tub, sink, counter, etc) and wiggle it under the line of caulk. The aim here is to separate it from the surface. Then do the same with the other surface (tile, backsplash, etc). Once you are able to separate the caulk, you should then be able to pull the loosened strip away.

Once the caulking has been removed, be sure to clean the area with a good mold and mildew cleaner, in preparation for the new caulking.

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