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How to remove caulk from siding

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tomtheelder2020

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My 70yo house has redwood siding; shiplap below board and batten. The battens are are T-shaped with the leg of the T fitting between adjacent boards. The bottom end of many battens moved out from the boards leaving a gap (typically 1/16 - 1/8 inch; worst case 1/4 inch). In the past, I just caulked the gaps. Now that I am retired I have started repairing the problems (pretty much all due to the nails rusting) instead of applying Band-Aids. In many places where I used flexible caulk it has split, though it is still flexible and may still be sealing out water (see photos). Any suggestions on how to remove the caulk that might work better than my current method (a utility knife, scraper, and lots of effort) will be appreciated.
 

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oldognewtrick

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I don't know of any better way to cleanup the caulk. But, what type of caulk have you been using?
 

tomtheelder2020

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Well, a I initially caulked before painting after I bought the house 30 years ago and have topped off cracks like these and new places that opened up over the years since then. I have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast, let alone what caulks I have used over all of these years. The best I can say is that I would have been inclined toward 50-yr permanently flexible caulks.
 

Jeff Handy

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Grunt work is the best way I know of to remove exterior caulk.
Scrape, cut, peel, wire brush.

A heat gun and a putty knife or a pull scraper can remove caulk that is sitting on top of paint.

Caulk removal gels or liquids are great for bath caulk, they soften it for easy scraping and wiping up.
 

tomtheelder2020

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Jeff Handy, that sounds possible. I have avoided using strippers because the original primer is lead based so sanding to feather the step between painted and stripped sections isn't acceptable. However, for a narrow strip I recently came up with a solution. I have been intending to post about that and will try to do so in the next couple of days.
 

EricK

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Give this project a try. It doesn't dissolve the caulk. It breaks the bond between the caulk and the surface it's stuck to. And if it doesn't work that great you've only sacrificed 10 bucks. I've used it to remove caulking around tubs and sinks. I find it helpful.

 

tomtheelder2020

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EricK, absolutely worth a try - even if it doesn't work I've gained an excuse to put off the hard work until the product arrives. Thanks for the tip!
 

EricK

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It's been a while and I'm wondering if you tried that product I recommended. I used it again myself the other day and it came in really handy to remove a really bad caulking job from a shower/tub. Just interested to know your thoughts if you tried it and how your project turned out
 

tomtheelder2020

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Still waiting for delivery.. Air her in Sacramento Valley is unhealthy right now so I am happy to not be working outside - except that it seems very likely I will not finish the project before the first rains come.
 

EricK

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Still waiting for delivery.. Air her in Sacramento Valley is unhealthy right now so I am happy to not be working outside - except that it seems very likely I will not finish the project before the first rains come.
I'm in West Sacramento. The air quality sucks!
 

tomtheelder2020

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Erick, it turns out the caulk remover arrived not long after I ordered it but our logistics and supply chief (my wife) didn't tell me. I removed the caulk the hard way before I was informed. It is likely I will run into the same caulk later in the project and will try it then - and will let you know the result.
 

EricK

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Erick, it turns out the caulk remover arrived not long after I ordered it but our logistics and supply chief (my wife) didn't tell me. I removed the caulk the hard way before I was informed. It is likely I will run into the same caulk later in the project and will try it then - and will let you know the result.
I was wondering how things worked out. I have a new bottle of it in my work van. Used it just the other day to remove a very bad caulking job in order to replace it with a better one. Just makes the job a little easier. Hope you didn't struggle too much getting all that caulking out. It's such a grunt job.
 

tomtheelder2020

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It was virtually impossible to remove by scraping. Ended up using very slow, meticulous slicing with razor blades - the kind of thing a home owner can do but way to slow for a professional.
 

tomtheelder2020

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Interesting idea! I have never used that attachment before. Definately worth a try - thanks for the suggestion.
 
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