What Is the Best Way to Remove Sealant From a Bathroom? 

 November 7, 2020

By  Dale Keese

Because of the constant presence of moisture in your bathroom, it’s almost inevitable for the sealant you use to look worn down and grimy over time. When that happens, both the appearance and the performance of the sealant deteriorate, thus necessitating its removal.

The best way to remove sealant from your bathroom is to use sealant removal gel and a utility knife. Squeeze the gel onto the old sealant. Wait for at least two hours so it can penetrate, then use your utility knife to separate and peel the old sealant from the surface.

Though it looks simple, this job is not as easy as it seems. If you are not careful, you can end up cutting yourself or scratching the object you are trying to reseal. Any surface scratches on these items can cause you bigger problems. Make sure to continue with this article to achieve the best results and pick up some other valuable pointers.

The process of removing sealant is not all that difficult. Check out the steps below to make it a more manageable undertaking.

Step 1: Prepare Your Tools

Prepare your utility knife, rags, and a cleaning solution. Purchase some sealant removal gel as this will make it easier to complete the task. Optional items you may need include alcohol, pliers, and an old toothbrush.

Step 2: Ready Your Bathroom for the Removal Process

Make sure your bathroom is clean and dry before you start the process. Doing so will make the sealant removal process way easier.

Step 3: Apply the Sealant Removal Gel 

Place the sealant removal gel in your mastic gun and then cut its tip open with some scissors. Follow that by carefully squeezing the gel onto the old sealant.

Allow the sealant to sit for at least 2 hours before you begin scraping it off. If the existing sealant is worn down, let the gel sit longer so it can work its magic better.

Step 4: Pry the Sealant Off Together with the Removal Gel

After waiting, you can begin cutting the old sealant away with your utility knife. The key is to be gentle when prying the old sealant away. Since you’ve used the gel remover, there is no need to use force. Be patient and careful so as not to scratch or damage the surface around the sealant. 

Step 5: Remove the Stubborn Spots

You may notice that some portions of the sealant are not budging during removal. It is common for some spots to be more stubborn than others. 

Use alcohol to help take out the stuck residue. The alcohol will make the silicone sealant less sticky. You can then use a rag to wipe away the softened and less sticky sealant.

Step 6: Get Rid of the Leftover Sealant Bits

If there are leftover bits and pieces of sealant, you can use your pliers to remove them. You can also use an old toothbrush to brush them away. 

Resist the urge to keep on prying them away with a knife. You could just end up damaging the surface. If you’re having a tough time removing the smaller bits of sealant, reapply the sealant gel remover or soak the spots with more alcohol to loosen them up.

Clean the Area Before Re-Sealing

Cleaning is especially important if you are taking off sealant from a tile wall. If you cover your unclean and un-sanitized tiles with new sealant, the leftover mold will fester.

The untreated grime will also prevent your new sealant from adhering properly on to the surface. If that happens, water could seep into the loose seal and render the sealant ineffective. 

After removing the old sealant, you have to combine water with bleach to kill off any mold hiding in your bathroom. Mold is not always visible to the naked eye. Err on the side of caution and apply the aforementioned solution to the surface before you begin applying new sealant.  

Once you’re done cleaning with the bleach and water solution, apply some alcohol on to the surface to make it spotless. Remember to wait for the entire surface to dry before applying the new sealant.

If you used a gel remover to get rid of the old sealant, you will have to rub the alcohol into the surface to make sure every bit of gel is gone. Failing to do that could lead to sealant residue weakening the bond of the new layer.

Applying New Sealant to the Bathroom Surface

Now that you’ve removed the old sealant, you can replace it with a new layer. The steps detailed below will tell you how to complete that job. 

Step 1: Clean the Surfaces to Be Sealed Thoroughly

Remember that the strength of the sealant can be compromised by debris. Clean all the surfaces you want to seal thoroughly to prevent any debris from compromising the seal.

Step 2: Get the Sealant Ready

Insert your new sealant tube into your mastic gun. Cut off the tip, making sure to cut it as wide as the gap of the wall and material you are sealing. 

Step 3: Apply the Sealant

Gently squeeze the new silicone sealant onto the opening. Don’t squeeze too hard in order to avoid excessive application. 

Step 4: Clean Up Any Excess Sealant

Make sure you wipe the excess sealant as you go. Use your finger which has been dipped into a solution made with 50 percent washing liquid and 50 percent water to clean up the excess.

Step 5: Smooth Out the Sealant Layer

Finally, after applying the sealant, smooth it out with your finger to ensure even application smooth finish. You can also use a spatula or putty knife instead of your finger. 

Pro Tip: If you’ve applied an excessive amount of sealant, you can use a scouring pad or a similar abrasive tool to remove the extra material. Dip the corner of the pad in a cleaning substance such as acetone, nail polish remover, or rubbing alcohol. Use that scouring pad to wipe the excess sealant away. 

Scrub if necessary to clear away any unwanted residue. Take care to avoid over-soaking your pad so the cleaning solution does not bleed on to the tiles. You could damage the tile surface if you’re not careful.

Remember that you have to wait at least 24 hours after applying your sealant before you can use your bathroom again. That will give the sealant enough time to dry. Once the 24 hours are up, carefully touch the sealant with your finger to check if it has dried sufficiently.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Else Can Be Used to Remove Bathroom Sealant?

If you have WD-40 in your home, you can use it to remove old sealant. Apply the WD-40 on to the old sealant, let it sit for a bit, and start scraping. Don’t forget to wipe away the WD-40 before applying any new sealant.

Can Vinegar Be Used to Remove Silicone Sealant?

Vinegar works well on residual caulk, but it will not work as well on silicone sealant, especially if you are in a rush. Vinegar can only help you out with your resealing project as a cleaning solution. The acidity of the vinegar can help take out the sticky residue and disinfect the tile surface, but it won’t do much to soften the old sealant.

Is There a Difference Between Caulk and Sealant?

It’s easy to confuse caulk with sealant and vice versa. Some people even use the terms interchangeably and think they are the same.

However, it’s important to point out that they are different from one another. Though both caulk and sealant are used to fill joints and seams in the bathroom, they still feature different qualities.

Caulk is more rigid and chalky than sealants. Unlike caulk, sealant is often very flexible. Sealant also holds up better in your bathroom as it can handle the expansion and contraction caused by the moisture and heat coming from your hot showers.

About the author

Hey, I'm Dale Keese.. thanks for reading.. hopefully this article can save you some time and trouble with your sealing job. I'm also in the process of making some video walk-throughs for youtube so check back soon! thanks

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