Maintaining a healthy bathroom atmosphere is quite a great task. The constant exposure to moisture can make it a breeding ground for bacteria leading to mildew growth. This can make the bathroom smell and look bad. A common area of mildew attack is in the silicone caulking which surrounds the shower stalls, bathtubs, etc. Silicone caulk is found to be great when used in sealing showers; however, they do not get easily removed after being cured. This makes silicone caulk spills really annoying. Also, when used around fiberglass shower stalls, the porous structure of fiberglass can make it even harder. This may make it seem quite harder to get the silicone caulk removed. However, there are effective methods to get the silicone caulk removed. Be it spills or mildew attacks, we have different ways to get the silicone caulk removed from your shower stall. This article deals with how we can remove silicone caulk from fiberglass shower stall.
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What are Silicone Caulks?
Before proceeding further, let us see what these silicone caulks are in actuality. Silicone Caulks are a type of adhesive sealant, used in many households as well as professional applications. These silicone based sealants, seal the gaps by forming a bond between the materials. They are highly durable and have the ability to repel air, water and moisture. With the ability to withstand extreme temperature changes, they can be used in areas of Sun exposure as well as in damp areas like kitchens and bathrooms. They are well suited for use around baths, showers and sinks. They are flexible and last for longer periods of time.
With mold and mildew resistant additives, they can offer guaranteed protection from the elements for a much longer time frame. They have fungicides already added into the solution for effective control of mildew growth. You need to check the packaging properly before purchasing and look for terms like mildew-proof and the guaranteed time of protection they offer.
Silicone caulks may require solvents other than water for clean up. Thus it is not actually an easy process to clean up the silicone caulks.
Removing Silicone Caulk From Fiberglass Shower Stall
There are several ways you can remove silicone caulks from fiberglass shower stalls. You may make use of heat, scraping tools, or chemicals to achieve the same. The process is explained in detail below. However, let us start with the preparation phase.
If you start the work with proper preparation and follow the necessary precautionary steps, then your work gets easy and you can prevent any future mess.
- Make way for a clear path to work on. So you need to clear the area off the things that can possibly get in your way.
- Put on your gloves as it will safeguard your hand from the outside elements and chemicals involved.
- Collect the necessary tools beforehand and make sure that they are easily accessible. This will make your work easy. We will get to see the tools required in each of the different methods as we proceed to that section.
- Clean the surface under consideration thoroughly with soap. This will remove any residual oils which can make the decaulking procedure difficult.
- Wipe off the excess moisture from the fiberglass shower stall or else, it may make the removal process difficult.
Removing Silicone Caulk With The Help Of Heat
This is the simplest method for removing silicone caulk from fiberglass shower stalls. You do not need any caulk removers or other chemicals. All you need is to heat up the silicone caulk. Let us see what all tools you may require in the process.
- Heat gun or a hairdryer
- Putty knife
- Rubbing alcohol
- Needle-nose pliers
- Dry rag
Steps Involved in the Removal of Silicone Caulk using Heat
- Wear gloves and clean the surface off any residual oils.
- You need to loosen the caulking by sliding a putty knife under the caulking. Do not exert heavy pressure as this can cause damage to the fiberglass shower stall.
Options like the Dewalt Putty Knife are available in a multitude of sizes. The premium stainless steel blade will offer corrosion resistance. The lightweight putty knife also comes with a double riveted comfort grip handle. The putty knife is easy to use and easy to clean.
3. You need to plug in the hairdryer or the heat gun. Now you need to set the heat limit to around 250 degrees. Proceed from a low setting and if not done, you can increase the heat supply later on. Never overheat the device as applying way too much heat may cause damage to the fiberglass surface on application.
4. Now you can apply the heated surface of the hairdryer or the heat gun onto the caulking you want to remove. Wait for about 30 seconds. Wave the hairdryer or the heat gun onto the surface so that all the caulking gets heated.
5. You will get to see that the caulking is melting and getting loose. If the caulking doesn’t seem to melt, you can increase the heat range further and try it on.
6. Now as you see the caulking getting loose, you can make use of needle nose pliers to grab those loose caulks and peel them off gently. Twisting the caulking can break the strand and leave in bits of the caulking on the surface which can make it difficult to get them removed further.
7. You can use cotton rounds to apply to rub alcohol onto the surface which can remove tiny bits left with the fiberglass shower stall. You can also make use of vinegar or isopropyl alcohol in this manner. You need to keep any sources of ignition away as alcohol is flammable.
8. Now you can use a dry rag to clean the surface of the fiberglass. Clean the remnants if any are present on the floor.
Removing Silicone Caulk using a Caulk Removal Tool or Scrapper
Now if you think that the first method will not suit you, you can make use of a scraper or a caulk removal tool to remove the silicone caulk from the fiberglass shower stall. As the Caulk Removal Tool is designed specifically for the purpose, it can ease up your work. It will also never damage the fiberglass structure. ALLWAY CT31 3-in-1 Caulk Tool is a great option for application as well as the removal of the caulk. The steel blade has the ability to remove the old dried caulk in no time. The scraper end is great for quick edge clean up. It also comes with a comfortable, soft grip handle. This caulk removal tool is especially meant for silicone sealants and will also work well on fiberglass surfaces.
In the absence of a caulk remover tool, you can also make use of a utility knife. It can provide the much needed precision when compared to other options like the razor blade.
- Caulk remover tool
- Utility Knife
- Needle-nose pliers
- Rubbing alcohol
- Dry rag
- Putty knife
Steps Involved in Silicone Caulk Removal using Caulk Removal Tool or Scrapper
- Wear gloves and clean the surface off any residual oils.
- You can make use of the caulk remover tool; hold it at about 45 degree angle and scrap along the length of the silicone caulking. Continue the process till the whole caulking gets removed. In the absence of a caulk removal tool, you can also make use of a utility knife. Be gentle with your efforts. Use the caulk removal tool lightly along the surface of the fiberglass shower stall or else, you may end up damaging it.
- There can still be small bits of caulk left behind on the fiberglass surface. You can scrape off this by using a putty knife. Move the putty knife in gentle strokes to get away with these stuck bits of silicone caulk.
- You can dab some rubbing alcohol on a dry rag and rub it on the fiberglass shower stall so as to make sure that no residue is left. You need to be careful as alcohol I flammable.
- Clean the surface with a dry rag. Also clean up the remnants if any present in the floor.
Removing Silicone Caulk using Chemicals
If the above mentioned methods do not seem to suit you, then you can look for chemicals for caulk removal. Ensure proper ventilation as these chemicals can give off harmful fumes. Options like Motsenbocker’s Lift Off Spray Foam is good for silicone caulk removal. It is found to be safe for use on shower surfaces. The water based formula is biodegradable. It is fast and simple to use. You just have to spray, wait for some time, scrape and then wipe clean the surface. This will easily remove the caulk in pieces. You can also make use of acetone to dissolve the silicone caulk from fiberglass surfaces.
- Chemical caulk remover
- Putty knife/ Utility knife
- Abrasive pad
- Dry Rag
- Rubbing alcohol
Steps Involved in Removing Silicone Caulk using Chemicals
- Wear gloves so as to protect your skin from chemicals. Clean the surface off any residual oils.
- Ensure proper ventilation as the chemicals involved can give off harmful chemicals.
- Now dab a sponge or abrasive rag into the caulk remover chemical and apply it to the silicone caulking. You can also make use of chemical sprays which can further make way for easy application onto the surface.
- Wait for about 10 minutes or the time specified by the chemical manufacturer so as to let the silicone caulk dissolve.
- You can scrape off the loosened caulk using a putty knife. Be gentle so as not to damage the fiberglass surface.
- If any tiny bits are leftover, you can dab some rubbing alcohol on a dry rag and rub it on the surface. You can also let it sit overnight if you feel the stuck bits are stubborn.
- You can further scrub the surface gently with the help of a putty knife to remove the loosened caulk.
- Clean the surface with a dry rag. Also make sure that you clean up the floor off any remnants.
What to do in case if mold/mildew residue is still present?
Now as you have removed the silicone caulk from the fiberglass shower stall, you can check for if the surface is thoroughly cleaned and is free from any mildew. Mildew if any present on the surface need to be removed or else it can make the reapplication process worthless. The mildew spores will easily grow after you reapply the caulk.
Follow the below mentioned steps to remove the mildew spores:
- After the silicone caulk is removed, you can wash off the surface with warm water
- Apply a bleach solution on the surface and wait for some time.
- Clean it off with water and let the surface dry before reapplying the silicone caulk.
Reapplication of Silicone Caulk
Now as you have decaulked the surface and also made sure that there are no mildew spores being left behind, you can start to work on the reapplication of the silicone caulk. Leaving the fiberglass shower stall as such can lead to moisture and air seeping in. Let us see the procedure involved in the reapplication of the silicone caulk.
- Choose the right silicone caulk and the right tools. As we know, silicone caulks come in squeeze tubes as well as in the form of cartridges. Squeeze tubes may allow easy hand application, while for cartridges; you may have to make use of a caulk gun. Do check the below mentioned list to check for the caulking tools you may need in your work.
List of the Tools you may need in caulking
Caulking Tools can come in handy in your caulk jobs.
Caulk gun: You can have an even application of the caulking product without causing any arm fatigue or dripping.
Caulk strips: Caulk strips which are pre-shaped rolls of sealant have a peel-and-stick installation. They are usually used in place of traditional caulk or else you can also use it over caulked areas to achieve a finished appearance.
Caulking spatula: It is used to remove the old caulk without leaving any scratches on the surfaces. They can also be used to spread the caulk so as to offer a smooth finish to the applied caulk.
Caulk Backer rods: These backer rods provide an extra layer of insulation by filling large gaps before caulking. This results in the usage of less caulk.
- Demarcate the caulking area for an effective application. This will ensure that the caulk being applied does not spread easily onto the wall or the flooring. You can paste straight pieces of painter’s tape on the both sides of the area of application of the caulk. Make sure that you leave the necessary gap for the caulk to be applied.
- Now you can cut open the caulk tube or cartridge and place it on the caulk gun. Hold the caulk gun at an angle of about 45 degrees and apply it along the length of the surface. Make sure that the gaps are getting sealed. Be slow as you proceed so as to get the best, smooth finish.
- You need to wipe away the excess caulking. You can use a rag dabbed in rubbing alcohol or water and press it on the caulked surface for achieving smooth finish.
The article explains how we can remove silicone caulks from fiberglass shower stalls. You have seen three different methods to achieve the same. You can make use of heat, scraper or chemicals. All three methods mentioned have a straightforward simple approach. They require minimum tools and effort. By properly following the instructions you can get the work done in less than half an hour or so. You need to be gentle when applying tools on the fiberglass surface or else, it can leave in bits of caulk in the surface or else it can also cause damage to the fiberglass surface. You need to be careful when using chemicals as they can give off harmful chemicals. Ensure proper ventilation in such cases. You can ensure that all the mildew spores are cleaned off by following the procedure mentioned in the article. This will guarantee that the reapplication of the caulk becomes successful and long-lasting. We have also seen the steps involved in reapplication of the silicone caulk as leaving behind the decaulked surface as such is not recommended. This can lead to an attack of air and moisture on the fiberglass shower structure. So it is better to reapply the caulk once you finish up the decaulking procedure. The application of caulk is also a straightforward procedure and you only require minimal tools to achieve the same.