Why am I removing silicone sealant?
The old silicone sealant had been in place around the bathtub for years, yet it was still quite white, having been regularly treated with bleach. However, it had started to come away from the tiles at the edges, leaving gaps where moisture could seep through and cause damage. This meant that it was necessary to replace the sealant with a new bead to keep the bathtub looking beautiful, as well as to ensure that it would remain watertight.
In the past, removing old silicone sealant from around a bathtub or shower was an incredibly tedious task. It would involve long hours of laborious scraping and cutting with a variety of tools, including knives, and pliers. WD-40 was the previous go-to hack to act as a solvent to soften and unstick silicone sealant.
Once you start this task, it puts the bath or shower out of action until the job is completed.
However, today I’m using a multitool to make this job easier and faster! A multitool has a variety of interchangeable blades and attachments, making it the ideal tool for this job (see our list of things to use a multitool for). The key is to use a smooth blade on the multitool that can easily cut the silicone away from the bath and wall and make the job much easier. If you’re looking for a new multitool, have a look at our multitool comparison
To get started on this project, I gathered the essential tools needed to remove the old silicone sealant.
Before you start to remove silicone sealant, it is important to make sure that the area is properly prepared. This means making sure that all surfaces are dry and free from any water or moisture to avoid slips or falls, and I would be using a mains power tool in what is potentially a wet environment, so it made sense to use an RCD.
I removed the glass shower screen to get better access.
There shouldn’t be any splashes with this task, but you might want to put something down on the floor to catch debris and speed up the cleanup.
Using the multitool
With the smooth blade fitted to the multi tool, I began. Placing the blade flat against the bath, the tool cut through the silicone sealant quickly, easily and cleanly.
I ran the multi tool blade along the tub, and the blade did an excellent job lifting and removing bathroom sealant. As the old sealant had come away from the tiles, much of the time, this one pass was enough to dislodge whatever old sealant was attached to the tub. It came away in a long string-like peel.
There was lots of black mould on the hidden part of the old sealant, which shows that liquid and grime had been getting where it shouldn’t have been for quite some time.
There were places where I still needed to remove silicone sealant from the wall, so I turned the multitool to an angle and went back across, separating the bathroom sealant from the wall, being careful not to scratch the bath.
This got rid of the last of the big chunks with only sealant residue left. This was not a problem as I went back over the surface with the multitool to carefully remove silicone sealant residue that remained.
Before applying new silicone sealant, it is essential to make sure that the area has been thoroughly cleaned. Silicone sealant will not adhere properly if there is any dirt, dust or residue left on the surface. This means that all of the old bathroom sealant must be completely removed, and any mould or grime needs to be scrubbed away with a soft-bristle brush and methylated spirits. It’s also important to ensure that all surfaces are dry before applying the new sealant for the best results. Taking time to get everything clean and free from moisture beforehand will guarantee a successful outcome when replacing your bathtub’s silicone sealant.
There were lumps of I don’t quite know what – probably tile adhesive, silicone caulking and grout lodged behind the sealant, so I used a putty knife / flat metal trowel to retrieve and clean these out. An old paintbrush was useful for brushing out any remaining loose bits.
I was slightly concerned that a grey mark had been left on the bath where I had been running the tool along scraping the surface, but this was easy to remove with a quick rub of the cloth and a bit of methylated spirits to wipe it all away. I avoided using white spirit and WD-40 as I didn’t want oily residue left, which could affect the adhesion of the new silicone sealant.
Once I had removed the old sealant and was satisfied with the cleanliness of the area, it was important to make sure that all surfaces were free from any oil or grease before applying the new silicone sealant. To do this, I used a cloth soaked in methylated spirits and carefully went around each surface to ensure that everything was properly cleaned and dry. This step is essential if you want your new bath sealant to adhere properly, as oils and greases can prevent the silicone from forming a strong bond with the bathtub or tiles.
How long did it take to remove silicone sealant?
From start to finish, it took about an hour for the removal of the old bath sealant – which included all prep and the cleanup to get rid of all the old material and make the bath ready for the new sealant. This hack requires almost no elbow grease, and the results are amazing.
How did it turn out?
This article is about removing old sealant using an oscillating multi tool, so I’ve not gone into applying the new sealant, but it turned out very well