Caulk is a highly potent substance for sealing household spaces and ensuring that entrants such as moisture and dirt are completely locked out. Caulk sealants firmly adhere to material surfaces such as bricks, making them difficult to remove and replace.
Good caulking typically features a lifespan of up to 7 years, meaning that all caulk eventually needs to be replaced. No matter what kind of caulk your purchase, it will eventually lose its sealing power with time. This is why old caulk often leads to water damages and insulation problems (too cold in winter or too hot in summer).
Furthermore, failure to replace old caulk can also damage the structural integrity of commercial real estate and require additional improvements and renovations if not replaced on time. But the problem is that trying to clean caulk off with nothing but a utility knife is extremely frustrating and takes a long time. This strategy does not work for a large number of bricks.
Learning to remove dried caulk from brick will help you save more time and effort. However, if you are going to remove the caulk yourself, make sure to check with an electrician to make sure you will not cut any wiring by removing the caulk (typically only a concern for older buildings.)
Tools Needed To Remove Caulk From Brick
For a caulk removal project to be swift and successful, you will need to have the right tools at your disposal. Below are the most recommended tools necessary to remove caulk from brick surfaces efficiently. These tools may vary between caulk removing projects.
- Goo Gone Power Adhesive Remover – a chemical-based solvent for removing dried caulk residue. It is non-toxic and completely safe for household use. Although it does not hurt bare skin, you should still wear gloves when using the Goo Gone Power Adhesive Remover.
- Scrubbing Brush – Adhesive solvents mainly soften dried caulk, meaning that you will need to use a scrubbing brush to scrape off the remaining caulk residue. Doing this ensures that the new caulk replacement will adhere properly to the surface. Note that you will need to be gentle or you will scrape and potentially damage the brick surface.
- All Purpose Vinegar – Another way to remove old caulk remnants, clean the surface, and disinfect the area, you will additionally need vinegar. Other substances that can be used in its place include rubbing alcohol, acetone, any non-ammoniated cleaner, household bleach, or WD-40 spray.
- Hairdryer/Heat Gun – Heating usually softens caulk faster than using caulk solvents. Despite the two tools being interchangeable, heat guns are more preferable when removing dried caulk. To avoid damaging the brick surface, consider holding the heating device at least 6 inches away and not continuously heating the same section.
- Power Hose – Caulk removal projects are often tedious and time-consuming, meaning that you will need to have efficient tools to get the job done effortlessly. If you are working on a large area, a pressurized power hose will let you scrape the softened caulk sealant and clean the brick surface simultaneously.
- Utility Knife – Removing caulk residue from brick surfaces always involves working up different brick edges, which can sometimes prove to be hard to reach. If this is the case, having a utility knife will significantly add to your flexibility and enable you to scrape caulk from these sections comfortably.
Remove Old Caulk
For those who are more interested in removing caulk from bricks, you should first begin by spot-checking the surface. This step involves testing whatever solution you use on one brick before coating the entire wall with the solution. Wait 5 minutes to make sure the solution does not discolor the brick.
Always remember that you will need to soften the old caulk before cutting it.
- Caulk removers – Removing old caulk can be done by applying substances like vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, or WD-40. They essentially soften the caulk and make it easier to remove.
- Heat gun – Softens caulk, but it is best practice to use chemicals and a heat gun as only using heat can be difficult depending on the caulk.
Once you are sure, the solution will not distort the color of the bricks, apply it to the sealant and let it sit for 5-6 minutes. Then turn up your power hose to full blast. This is much quicker and cleaner than trying to cut out the sealant with a knife. You risk chipping the brick or your knife if you do this.
Clean Remaining Residue Off of Brick
Whether you want to remove caulk sealant from your house’s exterior or interior brickwork, you will have to clean up afterward. Doing so ensures that you thoroughly remove any remaining caulk residue that might otherwise make the place unsightly.
There are two ways that you can use to clean the remaining caulk residue from brick.
- Scrub it off or pressure wash the surface.
- Use a scrubbing brush to remove the sealant residue on the bricks if you do not have a hose available. Using a power hose is most preferred, though.
Note that pouring warm water when cleaning using a scrubbing brush helps wash the loose caulk residue away. However, it would be best to remember to put on a pair of thick safety gloves when scrubbing. Alternatively, a high-pressure power hose at full-blast will simultaneously cut and wash the remaining caulk off the brick.
Safely Apply New Caulk
new caulking should ideally be done on a warm summer day to prevent moisture from getting behind the brick.
After removing the caulk, you should let the brick dry for an hour, even if you used a power hose. This will ensure that your working area is watertight and moisture-free. If you apply the caulk incorrectly on a commercial building, the water damage could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Once dry, you can begin to apply the fresh layer of caulk sealant.
It would be best if you are thoughtful about the amount of caulk you are removing and applying. If you are replacing a small amount of caulk, you should easily do it yourself. Just make sure the new caulk matches the color of the old caulk if you are only replacing a section of the sealant. The older caulk may be a little discolored due to its age, so it may be a good idea to clean the old caulk if you are replacing some caulk.
However, if you are replacing the caulk of an entire wall, you should probably use a professional caulking company. Although an experienced company comes with a more significant upfront cost, professional bricklayers and caulkers are better suited for large sealant replacements than a DIYer. They can quickly spot potentially high vulnerable areas and seal openings that are not easy to locate.
Frequently Asked Questions
First soften the caulk by using a caulk remover product or use a heat gun 6 inches away from the caulk. Use a scrubbing brush or scraper to remove the caulk. Any exces caulk is ideally removed with a power hose.
Vinegar will not completely dissolve caulk but it will help soften the caulk before trying to scrape it off. Applying all purpose vinegar to dried caulk with a rag is recommended.
- Using a heat gun
- Silicone sealant remover
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Scraping with a knife
Ensure that when you are scraping away the caulk that you are mindful of each scape so that it does not go to far into the window frame or hit the brick.
Typically 7 years depending on the conditions in which it’s facing daily.
No, there are no products to completely dissolve caulk. However, there are multiple ways to soften caulk by using caulk removers or heat guns.
Caulk remover works on removing caulk from brick if you selected a highly recommended and trusted caulk remover. There are only a few quality products on the market currently.
It is not recommended to caulk over the old caulk. The new caulk will not apply and stick well if it’s applied over old caulk.