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How to Remove Silicone Caulk

Use Lift Off Caulk & Foam Sealant Remover

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by Jeff Patterson in Interior DIY Projects

Believe or not, the proper way remove silicone caulk with a liquid chemical remover isn’t as straight forward as you think.

But first let me explain why I had to remove the silicone caulk on the exterior side of our living room window.

One evening we noticed rain water dripping from our window and onto the living room carpet. Not good to say the least.

The culprit was a bad seal between the outdoor caulk and window trim. So, a new bead of caulk was necessary. The first step in this process is to remove all the old outdoor caulk. Since there was about 6 linear feet of the stuff I decided to try a green chemical caulk remover called Lift Off by Motsenbocker’s.

If you have old cracking or missing caulk around your exterior trim then this tutorial will be a big help. Trust me, the 5 minutes it might take you to read this entire post will save you hours of frustration.

Here are the supplies you’ll need for your project

  • Motsenbocker’s Lift Off caulk remover
  • 5-1  painter’s tool
  • Utility Knife
  • Gloves
  • 1 inch paint brush
  • Yogurt cup
  • Sponge
  • Bucket of water
  • Patience

You might think that using a chemical caulk remover involves just squirting it on the old caulk. Changing diapers seem easy enough, too. But you wouldn’t dare try it for the first time without a little advice from your Mom, right?

The tips I’m sharing are subtle but will help you remove your old outdoor caulk in no time and prevent costly water leaks from rain. Let’s get started 🙂

Identify Cracking or Loose Outdoor Caulk

Loose and cracking outdoor silicone caulk can lead to all sorts of trouble inside your house.

Mold, crumbling drywall, wood rot, and upset spouses are only a handful of problems. Who knew that a $4-6 tube of caulk could be the solution to so many issues.

You should thoroughly inspect your exterior caulk around windows, window trim, door casings, and vents. If you notice the caulk is cracked or missing in certain areas then you’re one step closer to being a DIY hero. In my case,  terrible rains pummeled our home for hours and consequently drove rain through the exterior window trim.

The sun had dried out the caulk and unfortunately I didn’t recognize this until it was too late.

How to Remove Silicone Caulk with Lift Off

 

Getting Started with Lift Off Chemical Caulk Remover

In order for the Lift Off caulk remover to work you’ll need to use either a utility knife or 5-1 painter’s tool to score the caulk. If you’re removing caulk from window trim score the side of the caulk that touches the trim then score the other side that touches your siding or adjacent surface.

How to Remove Silicone Caulk-Score the caulk where it meets the trim How to remove silicone caulk-score the caulk where it meets the brick or siding

 

Next, place some Lift Off in a yogurt cup (Stoneyfield Farm is my favorite) and apply it to the caulk with a small 1 inch paint brush. Ensure the Lift Off caulk remover gets into the scored marks on the caulk. This will allow the Lift Off to break the bond between the caulk and surface. Let Lift Off sit on the caulk for 3-4 minutes.

BIG TIP:  test Lift Off on a small section of your trim to ensure it doesn’t discolor it.

How to remove silicone caulk-apply lift off to the scored caulk

Scrape the old caulk loose using the 5-1 painter’s tool. Once a small section of caulk is unsecured you’ll be able to peel it back like shucking a corn husk or dead skin from a sun burn (that’s kinda gross!!). Remove as much of the old material as possible so that the new caulk will adhere properly. Here’s a quick and entertaining video that shares this process.

 

Learn how to remodel your bathroom, save money, and increase your home’s value with Bathroom Repair Tutor

 

Rinse off any Lift Off residue with a sponge & water. Let the trim dry and apply your new caulk. I highly recommend using outdoor caulk by DAP or GE because both have never let me down.

I used DAP’s Dynaflex 230 caulk sealant on this project because it’s waterproof, paintable, crack-resistant, and cleans up easily. You’ll find that it’s super simple to tool into any joint and the almond color matched our window trim perfectly.

You can find Lift Off and DAP & GE caulk at Lowe’s and other hardware stores. At first I wasn’t all that thrilled about using a chemical caulk remover but felt a whole lot better after reading more about Lift Off. It’s a water-based green product that’s biodegradable. Plus, Lift Off is safe to use on other surfaces like clothes, carpet, and floors just in case you have a caulking mishap.

You should also be able to remove foam sealant using Lift Off. This is an especially great attribute because foam sealant is really hard to get off anything. I ruined one of my favorite shirts using Great Stuff. Hmmm, come to think of it I should try Lift Off on it to see if it’s salvageable.

 

What’s Next

Our other tutorial for inside the house shows a different method for removing silicone or siliconized acrylic caulk.

Grab our free guide if you’re doing a DIY bathroom remodel – it shares how to remodel a bathroom in 10 days or less

Send Me The Guide

 

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.

Ask your questions below and we’d be happy to help.

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

P.S. Our online store has great supplies for homeowners doing a bathroom remodel. You’ll find shower systems, tiling tools, and more.

7 Comments
  1. SheilaG @ Plum Doodles says:

    Thanks for the tips, Jeff. We have a lot of outdoor repair/maintenance to do. One question, though- do you think a Chobani yogurt cup would work almost as well?

    1. Lol, you cracked me up Sheila. I used to eat Chobani but love Stonefield Farm. The answer is a resounding yes. Hope you’re having a great spring season 🙂

      1. SheilaG @ Plum Doodles says:

        😀

  2. Marti says:

    Great tip. Do you know if that stuff works on silicone caulk around the shower? That’s a project I’ve been dreading but need to do.

    1. Marti, yes. It will work on silicone in the shower. Just make sure to Lift Off to see if it doesn’t discolor your shower surround or other materials. Hope you’re having a great day.

  3. mary says:

    Jeff just discovered your site, worked all last year at trying to remove the caulking around the windows on the downstairs and front and back door, to no avail I will be starting where I left off last year this year. I am praying that this product is going to work, I’m putting a lot of faith in you. 🙂 before recaulking, should i paint the trim around the windows first, it seems when they had resided my home, they used aluminum trim so I really would like to paint the trim, it is all white. Just want to get this all taken care of before summer as I want to be house free with everything painted and windows caulked outside. This is what happens when hubby get frustrated I just do it myself.

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