Removing any kind of caulk can be a process, and this is especially true when it comes to acrylic and silicone caulk.
If you are working on a painted wall using acrylic or silicone caulk, you may be concerned about damaging the paint or the wall when taking it off.
Caulk is made to be as sticky as possible so that it can dry firmly in place.
Removing paint while applying caulk is a common issue if you aren’t careful.
Fortunately, there are a few techniques you can employ to remove caulking without damage. Let’s dig them up right below…
How to Clean Acrylic Caulk?
Stripping freshly dried acrylic caulk is relatively easy, but you should do it pretty fast.
If you allow it to dry on the painted walls for a very long, it can be difficult to remove and can damage the paint.
To get the job done, follow the right steps patiently as follows.
Step 1: Preparing the Caulk
Begin with a caulk remover such as Goo Gone and apply it to the acrylic caulk.
Though this won’t remove the caulk or even fully separate it, it will make it softer on the walls so that you can work with it and take it off by hand.
This saves a lot of time and trouble because otherwise, caulk is designed to be difficult to remove.
Follow the instructions on the packaging of the caulk remover to figure out how long to let it sit.
Step 2: Removing Larger Sections
Small bits will always be left behind regardless of how you remove the dried caulk. Unfortunately, this is largely unavoidable.
Using the right technique can at least minimize what you have to clean up after removing the caulk.
Moisten the caulk and also wet the wall area around it.
Do this quickly, using a damp sponge or cloth. Then, grab a utility knife and put on some protective gloves.
Using the knife, wedge the blade underneath the caulk and lever it up before scraping it off.
Do this carefully and slowly to avoid damaging the paint by using as little pressure as you can manage.
Once you have removed as much caulk as possible with the knife, stop and wash the area using water and dish soap.
Then, rinse it off to remove the loose caulking as well as the caulk remover. Take care not to scrub with the sponge so as not to damage the paint.
Step 3: Removing the Caulk Remained
The best way to loosen those little pieces of acrylic caulk will be by using isopropyl alcohol.
Though acrylic caulk is water-resistant, it will soften when it comes in contact with alcohol.
Apply the alcohol using a sponge around the area from which the caulk was removed.
Let the alcohol sit and soak into the caulk for a while and watch it carefully to ensure no accidents; isopropyl alcohol is flammable and needs to be monitored.
Use a dry cloth or sponge to get rid of the loose fragments.
If there is any more caulk to remove, use a sponge or rag to scrape it off or needle-nose pliers to pluck it away.
In the end, there is a chance you’ll need to scrape it off and repaint it anyway.
Remember to factor in a small paintbrush and some paint in your budget, just in case.
How to Remove Dried Silicone Caulk?
Sticky silicone caulk is difficult to remove like acrylic caulk is once it has dried.
Unfortunately, that means once it’s on there, it’s on there unless you put in some serious elbow grease.
There are no products that can simply remove it, and it’s next to impossible to complete this task without damaging the wall.
Instead, you should prepare to minimize the damage and plan on touching it up with some paint after the fact.
Before painting, be sure all of the silicone caulk residues have been thoroughly removed because the paint won’t cling to it.
Step 1: Buy a Caulk Removal Tool
You can pick up an inexpensive tool made for removing caulk at home improvement stores, but you don’t necessarily need it.
Using a utility knife and a glass scraper can be just as effective.
A glass scraper is particularly good at removing caulk from a flat surface like a finished wall since you can control the angle of the blade.
If you don’t acquire a glass scraper, you can use a standard razor blade scraper.
To remove the old dried silicone caulk, start using a razor blade scraper to peel up an edge.
Then, carefully pull as much of the sealant away with your fingers.
Be cautious while doing this, as the silicone is directly attached to the wall, and peeling it too roughly could damage the wallpaper or paint.
After removing most of the caulk with these tools, you’ll still have some residue to remove.
Therefore, having 120-grit sandpaper on hand is a good idea, though hopefully, it won’t come to that.
Step 2: Removing Caulk from a Wall
Before going after the caulk using tools in any serious capacity, remove as much as you can with the knife.
It is best to cut along the sides of the caulk using the sharp blade of a utility knife, taking care to use light pressure to prevent digging the blade into the wall.
After removing the caulk through slicing and pulling, you can pick up the glass scraper.
Hold the scraper at a low angle and push the edge of the blade beneath the caulk.
Push the blade forward using just light pressure and short strokes.
If you take too much caulk away at once in long strokes, you’ll risk digging the blade into the wall.
Step 3: Getting Rid of Residue and Touching Up the Wall
Once you’re done, check for rubbery residue with your finger.
You can remove any residue using your fingers just by rubbing it into balls if the paint is semi-gloss or gloss.
If that doesn’t work, you can break out that 120-grit sandpaper to get it off the rest of the way.
If you do this, you’ll need to repaint, but the chances are high you’d have to do it anyway.
If you do have to repaint, finding a perfect match to the existing color might be hard.
For this reason, it is recommended that you just paint the whole wall instead of just touching it up to ensure the color is uniform.
To make sure the paint sticks and fills in any tears or cuts, spread out a new coat of drywall joint compound before painting.
Allow it to dry, sand it down and then apply the drywall primer before touching it up to make the wall appear as good as new.
Removing the Excess Caulk from Wall That’s Still Wet
If you ever mistake using the wrong type or misapplying caulk, do not fret!
It is much simpler to remove wet and soft caulk than dry caulk from the painted wall.
- Dip a piece of clean cloth or a rag in warm water and wipe away as much of the caulk as you can.
- With a putty knife or utility scraper, gently clean the caulk stuck to the surface.
- Take a new cloth and dampen it with isopropyl alcohol, wipe against the caulk remnants several times, and clean using a damp towel soaked in water.
Removing the dried caulk becomes easy if you follow the steps patiently, no matter what type of wall you have (drywall, brick, stone, or plaster).
Make sure you choose the right caulk removers to get the job done without damaging the surface.
Also, if the excess caulk on the wall is still fresh, it’s good not to give it time to dry – removing it early will save you time and energy later.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.