If you are trying to re-caulk a bathroom or shower, it’s important that you remove the old caulk.
By leaving old caulk on a bank of tiles, you could end up with a less-than-waterproof seal.
When this happens, you could get water underneath the tile. This, in turn, could end up growing mold underneath your tiles and causing structural issues.
Removing Caulk From Tiles: Basic Idea
Removing caulk from tiles is a fairly easy job. However, you have to do it correctly to make sure the new caulk is secure.
To remove old caulk, you should:
- Apply caulk remover
- Pry the old caulk loose
- Scrape away residue
- Clean the tiles
When to Remove Caulk from Tiles
Many people think if they are going to re-caulk a bathroom, they can put the new caulk over the old one. While this is possible, it is not recommended.
The issue with doing this is that it won’t give you a tight seal.
The main reason you are probably re-caulking your bathroom is because the old caulk has deteriorated. By putting the new layer over the old one, you are not fixing the issue.
When you put new caulk over old layers, it will not be even with the tile. When this happens, water can get underneath the caulking.
When water gets through caulking, it also gets underneath the tile. Water accumulates and eventually turns into mold or mildew.
Apply a Remover
There are specially formulated caulk removers that are designed to remove old caulk.
Generally, you will apply the remover and wait two to three hours for it to settle. The remover will loosen the old caulk and make it much easier to pull up.
No matter what the remover says, make sure you are leaving it on for that amount of time. The longer it sits on the old silicone caulk, the more effective it will be.
While many people say that using vinegar can loosen caulk, this is not necessarily true. It might help the old caulk deteriorate, but it won’t be as effective as actual caulk remover.
You want to make the old caulk as easy to pry out as possible, and ideally in one piece.
Pry the Caulk Loose
After the remover has sat for a long enough period of time, you can start to peel up the old caulk.
Use a specific caulk remover tool to get it up and out of the tiles.
No matter how well you think you can, don’t use a utility knife. These tools are not designed for this job and won’t get you the kinds of results you want.
You could also end up slipping and hurting yourself or damaging the tile.
Scrape Away the Remaining Residue
Using a putty knife, scrape away any remaining caulk in the tile imprints.
You can also use more caulk remover and scrub it out with a toothbrush.
Clean the Surface
Thoroughly clean the surface where the caulk was with rubbing alcohol.
You can also use a solution of ⅓ or a cup of bleach and a gallon of water. This will kill any mold, mildew, or bacteria that has grown on the tile.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does vinegar remove caulk?
Vinegar can help soften caulk and make it slightly easier to pull up. However, it will usually not be sufficient when it comes to completely removing it.
To remove old caulk, use a specifically formulated caulk remover.
- How do you fix bad caulking?
The problem with bad caulking is that you can’t necessarily fix it.
The best way to deal with bad caulking is to completely replace it. This will ensure that you don’t get any water under your tiles.
- Is it okay to caulk over old caulk?
You can caulk over old caulk but it is not recommended.
When you do this, you will not get a watertight seal. This lets water get underneath the new caulk, which then leaks under the tiles.
The important thing with caulking is that you make sure it deflects water. By completely removing the old caulk before applying a new layer, you can be sure it does this.
Following the above steps will ensure that you end up with a tight seal.