The caulk around the tub gets a disgusting look from the mold forming after years of water exposure. The adhesives wear out with time, and the caulk also gets peeled off. These are signs that it’s time to remove the caulk and re-apply it. Removing caulk is a straightforward job. However, it’s a bit time-consuming. With enough patience and the right tools, you can make this job simply a matter of time.
In this guide, we’ll go through everything you need to know about removing old caulk from the tub – Step-by-step.
Removing Old Caulk From Your Tub
Cleaning the Surrounding Surface
This is an optional step. Most likely, you will apply a new caulk after removing the old one. In that case, taking this step will make things easier for you. Right before the cleanup, you can clean the surface with soap. You don’t have to deep clean at this moment. Just a little surface-level cleaning is fine as it will make the area clear of any oily, slippery substance that can cause you to slip your hand.
Check Caulk Texture
After assessing the kind of caulk, go for the next step. With a knife, make some minor cuts on the caulk and check its texture and hardness. By pressing on to the sealant with the knife, you can recognize the type of caulk that has been used. Latex or water-based caulks are hard and brittle. Silicone caulk will feel like rubber, and it’s much easier to remove than the other ones.
Weaken the Caulk and Remove It
We’re close to the most critical step – remove old caulking from tub surroundings, finally. With a knife tip, slice the caulk along the midway. Slice through the edges to weaken the sealant. If you find it easy to do, there is no need to use additional remover or weakener. Repeat the process for every edge. This will weaken the caulk Bond and allow you to remove it without any external instruments.
If the caulk seems more complicated to remove by knife, try heating it with a heat gun. In most cases, applying heat will soften the Binding material. But if it doesn’t work, do not put extra pressure as that might cause some damage around the tile.
If you fail with the heat method, then try using a caulk remover. Spread a small amount of caulk remover along the edges and let it work for some time. For the amount of caulk to be used and time, check the manufacturer’s manual to know.
Allow the caulk remover to work depending on the initial assessment. If the adhesive was too hard and breakable, then give it more time to soften up. With time, the sealant will absorb the remover and become weaker. After the caulk is resolved, try removing it with a putty knife. Start slowly and do not rush. Start from a corner and push your way around the corners.
Keep the knife flat against the surface and wipe the caulk away. Do this with a continuous swipe on the first try. The caulk will come off in strips and after all the strips are removed, use a plier or tweezers to pluck the broken bits off.
Clean the Surface
Use a brush to clean off of small bits of caulk stuck in between the edges. After cleaning all the remaining pieces, clean the surface by soaking a towel in a light soap mix. After wiping the walls, clean the area with a dry towel.
As an optional step, you can use a store-bought mildew killer To prevent any chance of mold growth inside the gap Between the tub and the walls.
Get Rid of Mildew
This step help in cleaning mold by combining bleach and a gallon of water. Fil a spray bottle with the solution and spray into and around the gap. You can also soak a paintbrush in it and use that to reach inside the hole. Scrub with a cleaning brush, wipe up any extra debris that may have worked loose, rinse the area with dampened towels, and then wipe it dry.
Allow the area to dry before recaulking.
To ensure you are not trapping any moisture behind the surface:
- Wait until the next day before covering the gap with new caulk.
- Give the area behind the character a chance to air-dry.
- Aim a fun at the gap to improve air circulation.
To hurry things up, pass your heat gun up and down along the gap periodically and set up the space heater nearby.
If you are using silicone caulk for a new caulk line, the area must be arid in order for it to adhere. Water-based calks will stick to slightly damp surfaces, but doing so may increase the risk of mildew growing back. Remember that since caulk is not waterproof, if there is a leak in your shower, the new caulk will eventually show mold and mildew.
Making the Old Caulk Easier to Remove
Removing old caulk from your tub is not easier. Sometimes you may clean the surface, and at the end, the old caulk is not removed as required. In that case, the best thing to do is to soften the caulk first and make them easy to remove. That will help you save a lot of time and also you will keep the energy and detergents required to remove them.
Here are some of the steps to follow to make the caulk easier to remove from your bathtub:
Clean the Area With Surface Cleaner or Soap Scum Remover
This is unnecessary to get rid of old caulk from your bathtub, but you are most likely to add new caulk afterward. If so, make life easier by washing the area with a soap cleaner, soap scum remover, or a combination of the two. You will need to do a minor cleanup after removal, but for now, reduce the need to deep-clean the uncaulked area with an excessive amount of liquid.
This is also a good idea because any buildup of oils or other slippery liquids may cause your hand or tool to slip while removing the old caulking.
Determine How Hard the Caulk Is
To make your work easier when removing the old caulk, you need to determine how hard the caulk is before you start cleaning it. This will prepare you enough and help you know what you need, such as the type of cleaner to remove it effectively.
Pick a small area to test with a utility knife. Could you make a small cut with its tip? Assess the texture of the caulk. Water-based caulks will most likely feel brittle and hard. These are more prone to chipping during removal. Silicon should feel much more pliable, like soft rubber. These are usually the easiest to remove.
Make Starter Cuts
Hold the utility knife parallel with the surrounding surface. Insert the tip of your utility blade into the caulk line and slice it open along its edge and repeat along with the other character.
Avoid making actual contact with either surface. What you want is to weaken the caulk bond and allow more access for the next step. If your caulk is especially hard, try heating it with a heat gun to soften it. If the heat gun doesn’t work, skip to the next step rather than risk damaging the surrounding surface with nicks and scratches.
Soften With Caulk Remover When Needed
If your starter cuts were effortless to make, feel free to try skipping this step since the whole caulk line may come off just as quickly without any additional treatment. Otherwise, apply a bead of caulk. Repeat as needed to cover the entire caulk line and spread it out so that all of the old caulk is fully covered.
Refer to your caulk remover’s directions to determine the minimum amount of time you should allow it to set before moving on. This is generally about two to three hours. The longer you let it sit, the more it should soften the old caulk. If the old caulk felt extremely hard and brittle when you made your test and starter cuts, Allow more time for the caulk remover to be absorbed which can be 24 hours for very stubborn caulk.
How to Avoid Common Caulking Mistakes
Human beings are not perfect but are prone to making errors. Given a procedure to follow for a given process, they will still make errors, however accurate they try to be. Every homeowner faces an inevitable crack or flaky caulk seal. These can appear nearly anywhere in your home, inside or out.
Of course, the number one pitfall is never using caulk around your home. Caulk eventually fails, and that means water getting where it shouldn’t can cause expensive damage and losses. Because air can move freely in and out of your home, when the time comes for you to pick up that caulking gun and seal a shower or lay a new caulk on an exterior siding seam, you need to ensure that you lay the perfect caulk. These are some of the tips that can help you lay the perfect seam.
Don’t Skip the Prep
The first common mistake happens even before you even open the tube of caulk. Without proper surface preparation, your new caulk will not last. As tempting as it is to lay a new caulk and forget about it quickly, you do not need to remove the old caulk, flaking paint, or crumbling grout altogether. Repair any surface damage and then lay the new caulk.
When you open a tube of caulk, the tapered tip on each tube allows you to customize your opening for your specific job. Many people usually cut the tip and start caulking without regard for the width of the crack they plan to seal. This results in much material on the surface, poor adhesion, and a sticky mess. Cut your tip slightly narrower than the opening and use pressure and speed to adjust the width of the caulk.
Mind the Gap
When it comes to width, another pitfall emerges, filling significant gaps with caulk. Openings wider than a one-quarter inch or more than one-half inch deep require backing material such as foam rope. Pumping a huge crack full of caulk is expensive and affects the product performance. Backing material optimizes the thickness of the caulk and allows for the best cosmetic finish.
Creating the best-looking, most effective bead of caulk takes some skill. Many people charge right in, applying material immediately to the task at hand. Instead, grab a grocery bag and practice a bit to feel for pressure control and how the bead comes out of the tip.
Consistency is key. A derivative of this is jumping into a long bead without a break. Near the end, you may run out of space for the caulk gun. Sudden stops result in your carefully crafted bed becoming a mess. Work from each edge to the middle or start by caulking the last 6 inches first. Do your best to keep pressure, speed, and angle consistent.
Don’t Forget the Final Step
The last common pitfall involves finish. You laid the most even beautiful bead of caulk out of the tube. You may think that’s all or you are done, which is wrong. You need not forget the final critical step in the process, that is, tooling. Most of the time, the only additional caulking tool required are a fingertip, some water to dip it in, and some paper towels. You are smoothing the caulk with steady light pressure from your fingertip or the back of a metal spoon for the exterior. It forces the caulk firmly against both surfaces and helps create a clean, tidy appearance.
Preventing Caulk Stains on your Bathtub
Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, always make sure that after taking a bath, the bathtub is left completely dry. To do so, use a mop and use it to dry the tub every time after use. Keep it near the tub so that finding it is easy. You can also use powdered or liquid water softeners. These are available in hardware markets and will solve the problem from the root.
Lastly, you can ask your plumber to install a water softener system on your shower and pipes to prevent water from hardening. This option is expensive but valuable if you want to get rid of hard water stains for good.
Here are other tips you can use to prevent hard water stains
The same approach applies to bathtubs. Bathtubs require proper care for them to function correctly and even last longer. If you spare a little time each day to clean some of the frequently used parts of the bathtub, you will prevent dirt and other stains from building up in your bathtub. That will make it much cleaner all the time, and cleaning it will even be accessible.
Invest in a Home Water Softener
Hard water is the primary cause of most stains on surfaces. In areas with hard water, investing in a water softener is the way to go. Soft water is always easy to use when washing and also helps save your soap and shampoo. Apart from that, it will help remove stain-causing minerals which will make your clothes appear more cleaner. If you still suffer from the effects of using hard water in your home, you make a choice and try out water softer to help relieve you more stress.
Seal Surfaces to Prevent Future Caulk Stains
Sealing the surface is the best way to protect the characters in your house from getting stains. That is because it will prevent water from showers and tubs from getting into contact with the surfaces. A few times every year, you should consider adding a non-toxic cleaner such as BioClean Hard Water Stain Remover to your home care rotation. The non-toxic cleaner will help keep the surfaces clean by creating a seal to reduce future staining. That will give you an easy time cleaning because there will be less accumulation of stains. It will also help save your soap.
A Brush for Every Toilet
Every toilet room is supposed to have a toilet brush. That will help keep them clean all the time by preventing the accumulation of stains. Once in a while, you need to squirt your favorite cleaner into the bowl, switch it around with the brush, and make sure it gets to under the rim.
Also, bacteria can cause stains. Therefore, ensure that you spray the exterior of your toilet with a disinfecting surface cleaner and let it stay for ten minutes. That will kill 99.9% of the germs and will keep the surface sparkling clean.
Spray Surfaces Daily
Natural all-purpose cleaner is the best bathroom product to prevent water stains and soap scum from building on your walls. The product is best for non-porous surfaces such as marble, glass, and granite. It helps to wipe the surfaces easily and leaves no streaks and spots.
Using a clean, folded microfibre towel, apply a medium pressure to wipe in quick overlapping passes making a Z-like pattern.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes hard water stains?
Hard water stains are caused by an accumulation of calcium carbonate, a compound made of calcium and carbon left behind when it comes into contact with a surface and then evaporates, leaving the white mineral buildup behind.
On what surfaces can I use Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover?
Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover can be used on glass, porcelain, and granite surfaces. It may also be used on some chrome and stainless steel.
Is Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover guaranteed to work?
Yes, Brite and Clean ultimate hard water stain remover will work effectively to remove complex water stain accumulation, or you will be refunded the cost of the product if it fails to work for you. You will need to follow a unique set of instructions to remove the deepwater stain damage.
Will Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover work on plastics?
No, Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover should not be used on plastic surfaces. Although it will remove the hard water stain, It may also cause micro-scratching of the plastic cover. The stain remover is only meant for characters other than plastics.
Can I use Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover on my car’s paint job?
No, Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover should not be used on painted surfaces. Although it will remove the hard water stain, It may also cause micro-scratching on the painted surfaces. This may make the paint fade on some parts and damage the appearance of your car.
Can I use Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover on aquarium glass?
Yes, Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard water stain remover is safe for use on aquarium glass. You should transfer your marine life into another container and empty the aquarium water. You are then supposed to follow the cleaning instructions, dry the glass, refill with new water and place your marine life back into their new clear glass home.
Can I use Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover on toilet bowls?
Yes, Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover will remove hard water stains from toilet bowls. You will need first to remove the water from the toilet bowl. Next, put on rubber gloves and begin scrubbing the bowl. If you don’t drain the bowl, you will dilute Brite and Clean Ultimate Hard Water Stain Remover too much, making it ineffective as required.
Now that you have removed the existing old caulk and cleaned the surface afterward. Allow At least 24 hours to let the area completely dry before recaulking it. If you’re in a time shortage, use a heat gun to dry the surface quickly.
Now that you know how to remove it quickly, hopefully, you can do it yourself. Keep in mind that rushing may do more harm than benefits. So take your time and do it slowly. The result will surprise you