It can be very tough to remove silicone from shower tiles.
Perhaps there is an excess of silicone that has been laid by over-excited installers, or contractors who don’t completely know what they are doing, destroying an otherwise nice appearance.
Or maybe the silicone is old and has become brittle and degraded, even peeling away in certain areas.
You might even notice mold developing around it if you’re unlucky. After all, your bathroom’s wet, and humid air acts as a welcome home for mold spores.
Whatever the reason, hard work, patience, and a methodical approach are your best weapons for removing the silicone sealant from your bathroom tiles.
Here is a tried and tested method to remove silicone from tiles.
You Will Need
- Razor or utility knife
- Soft cloth
- Tile cleaner or dish detergent
- Putty knife or ice scraper
- Scouring pad
- Acetone or similar solvent
Clear out the area of any personal belongings, you will be working in an already cramped space and don’t want other objects to get in the way.
Using a bathroom tile cleaner that can remove soap scum without leaving a residue, clean the entire tile area. You can also use hot water and a little dish detergent if you do not have tile cleaner.
If you clean the tile before removing the silicone, you avoid having to clean it later when the surface is no longer protected.
If you want to maintain the tile, you’ll need to seal it, and it only works on clean surfaces.
On one side of the bead, slide a utility knife or razor down the length of the first caulk seam. Hold the tool so that the blade does not cut through the wall, but rather cuts close to it (at the base of the silicone).
The goal is to cut the silicone loose on the first edge without cutting through the entire bead or down into the joint.
Repeat this process on the other side of the silicone sealant bead, slicing through a spot near to where the silicone adheres to the tile. It’s best not to cut so deep that the silicone bead is removed. It’s enough to use just the knife’s tip on each side of the bead.
Grab a stray silicone edge and peel it up and away from the tile, kind of like how you would peel a banana. Unlike a banana, the silicone should pick up the silicone that has filled the entire joint, not just the visible piece.
Encourage the silicone to peel away with a putty knife or an ice scraper anywhere it resists removal and sticks too closely to the tiles
Dig out any residual silicone sealant that might be stuck to the tiles or the grooves between them. To avoid cutting, chipping, or scratching the tile, work slowly and gently with the knife, a putty knife, or an ice scraper. Keep the tool at a slight angle to the tile surface.
Using acetone, mineral spirits, or rubbing alcohol, dampen a scouring pad or another slightly abrasive sponge or tool. To remove any leftover residue, wipe over the tile and scrub as needed.
To avoid moisture damage, avoid soaking the tile or the pad that you’re using.
And just like that, you’re all done! While this can be a very time-consuming process, especially if you are clearing silicone from a large area or whole room, this is the best and easiest method to get silicone off of your tiles.
But now that you have removed the silicone, you will probably have to reapply sealant to the tiles to protect them and keep them safely on the walls. Here is a very quick and easy way to do this.
How To Reapply Sealant
You Will Need:
- Silicone sealant – make sure it is the right one for the area of your house that you are working on. Not all sealants work well with every type of tile. While using a universal sealant will work on the majority of tiles, if you are resealing the bathroom then you should buy a mold-resistant sealant that prevents mold from damaging the tiles.
- Masking tape – this is not essential but is the best way to apply the silicone cleanly.
- Triangular scraper.
Use masking tape if you want the cleanest possible result and aren’t sure if you’ll be able to apply the sealant in a completely straight line, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Make sure it covers both sides of the line to be sealed.
You must remove the tape before the silicone sealant dries as the silicone could trap bits of tape inside of it.
The best position to hold the sealant gun is at a 45° angle and pull it towards you as you apply it. To apply the sealant neatly, you’ll need to use the right speed when applying it.
If you move too slowly, you’ll end up with a lumpy, irregular sealant surface and lots of waste sealant. If you move too quickly, the gap will not be properly filled.
When you reach the end of the seam, release the handle and press the button or lever on the back of the sealant gun. The flow of sealant comes to a halt because of the pressure being removed. The sealant will continue to come out of the nozzle if you don’t.
Use the triangle scraper to smooth out the seam. If you don’t have one of these you can use your finger to do this. Make sure that if you are going to use your hands that they are wet first.
This is because silicone sealant will very easily stick to your hands if they are dry, but the water will create a sort of barrier to prevent this.
Silicone is very difficult to get off of skin so it’s best to try and avoid this as much as possible.
By following all of these simple steps, you should be able to very easily remove old silicone and reseal any tile quickly and effectively. The results if done right will last you for tears to come.