How to remove silicone from tiles

Author: | Last Updated: 12 Mar 2022

Silicone is one of the most common materials used around the home for renovation and home improvement projects. But, if you’re going into some renovation yourself and find that you need to remove old silicone from your tiles, you might be a bit confused on how to go about it. In this blog post, we give you some quick tips and tricks that should help you remove the silicone from tiles or other similar areas in your home. Keep reading to learn more!

What is silicone?

Silicone is a type of adhesive that is commonly used in many different applications around the home. It can be used to lubricate, seal, provide insulation, or can even be used in installing items by acting as an adhesive. Silicone is elastic while it is liquid, and goes on to dry as a flexible and durable sort of rubber that also works as a highly-effective seal against water and moisture. Silicone can come in translucent varieties (the most common) or can be dyed to match the colour palette of the area you plan to apply it to.

Reasons you might need to remove silicone

Revisiting the silicone in your home isn’t only restricted to renovation projects, but it should also be done regularly to check that the silicone is still serving its purpose. It’s important to stay ahead of the potential damage caused by old or faulty silicone seals. Here are some common scenarios where you will likely need to remove old silicone in your home:

Integrity issues: In most cases, silicone is applied as a sealant to keep moisture from seeping into delicate or non-water-resistant areas of the home. If you notice that the silicone seal has started to peel away from the crevice or gap it is supposed to fill, it’s best to catch the problem early by removing the silicone and redoing it with a new layer. The same holds true if you notice that there are air or water leaks in areas you’ve installed silicone; these are meant to be water- and air-tight, so once it is not doing the job, you should replace the silicone immediately.

Health hazards: Unfortunately, silicone provides the perfect environment for mould to grow on, especially in wet or humid rooms like bathrooms. The mould is attracted to the constant moisture available on the silicone and, as a result, can grow on it. While you can try to clean the silicone with solutions like bleach or vinegar, it may be safer to remove the silicone altogether and replace it with a new coat to get rid of the mould.

Aesthetic reasons: Over time, silicone can yellow, discolour, or stain. When this happens, it might look unsightly, especially if you specifically intended for either a colour-matched silicone seal or a transparent one. If you cannot clean the sealant back to its original colour, it might be best to remove it and apply a fresh seal.

Replacement of fixtures: If you’re changing your sink, kitchen counter, shower, etc., you will have to remove the previous silicone sealant in order to install the new fixture.

Step by step instructions for how to remove silicone from tiles

If you know that you need to remove silicone from your tiles, you might be a little worried about how to do it. It can sound a little daunting at first, but despite silicone’s tremendous staying power, it is actually fairly easy to remove with the right tools and a little elbow grease. Keep reading to see the step-by-step guide!

Step 1: Assemble your tools and supplies

You won’t need any fancy things to remove silicone. These are the basic tools you should have:

  • Protective gloves
  • Eye protection like goggles
  • A tight-fitting mask
  • A sharp utility knife
  • A scraper, spatula, or chisel
  • Rags
  • Methylated spirits or a commercial silicone dissolving solution

Step 2: Prepare the area for the removal

Move away any furniture or fixtures that could be blocking the area for removal. You’ll want to remove any items that could make it difficult for you to move around once you start removing silicone from the tiles. Keep your tools close by to minimise movement and potential spills or accidents in the area.

Step 3: Clean and dry the sealant to be removed

Wipe down the area near the sealant to ensure the surroundings are dry (also helps to avoid slips). For the sealant portion to be removed, wipe it down with a dry rag to remove any lingering moisture or dirt that could hamper the removal and refilling process.

Step 4: Start cutting away the silicone

Using your utility knife, run the blade along one side of the silicone sealant, applying enough pressure to ensure that you cut into the sealant itself. Do the same on the other side of the sealant. You can try to angle the second cut so that it can meet or be close to the depth of the first cut, which will essentially cut the silicone out like a “wedge” and make the removal much easier.

Step 5: Pry the silicone away

Once you’ve made the cuts, you can now pry away the silicone using your hands. Peel it away from the area, using your knife to assist you if it gets caught, or there are parts that are still whole and hard to rip off.

Step 6: Scrape off remaining silicone

The previous few steps may remove not all the silicone. Some residue on the area is totally normal and can be removed with a bit more effort. Using your scraper or even chisel, scrape the silicone off using a back and forth motion. If possible, you can also use the knife’s blade to cut bits off, picking them up with your hands as you work away the rest of the remnants.

Step 7: Clean the area

After removal, ensure that you dispose of the old silicone and the remnants in the correct bins. Silicone can clog drains and pipes if discarded improperly. If you find that there are still stubborn silicone remnants or very small pieces left, you can use a rag and methylated spirits to remove or “melt” away the rest of the silicone (a commercial solution can also be used). Make sure to wipe off as much of the solution as possible so that it doesn’t interfere with the replacement applications of silicone.

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