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Summary of Tools and Methods for Caulk Removal

TOOLS/METHOD SUITABILITY ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES PROTECTIVE MEASURES TO CONSIDER
Mechanical Tools
Utility knife
  • Universally applicable tool, especially for cutting out elastic and soft caulk together with an electrical joint cutter>
  • Suitable for all smooth joint faces
  • Less suitable for working on projects with caulk of lengths exceeding 100 m
  • Less suitable for very hard caulk
  • Choice of different blades to suit the joint width and depth
  • Advantages:
  • Short, sturdy blade that is easily exchangeable
  • Handy, low weight
  • No dust development in case of elastic caulk
  • Little dust when removing slightly brittle caulk and cleaning joint faces
  • Gentle treatment of joint faces

  • Disadvantages:
  • Requires great exertion in case of hard caulk
  • Relative low output (linear meters of caulk/hour)
  • Relatively high labor costs
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure (if dust is generated)
  • Work area decontamination
  • Ripping chisel
  • Suitable for breaking out or chiseling hard caulk, especially when working with joint in concave, angled planes
  • Less suitable for joints with a width of less than 5 mm
  • Less suitable for working on projects with caulk of lengths exceeding 100 m
  • Advantages:
  • Removal of hard and brittle caulk: The cutting edge can be moved along the joint face with greater pressure than a utility knife
  • Low dust development in case of rough joint faces

  • Disadvantages:
  • Quickly dulls when working with rough joint faces made of concrete or other hard materials
  • Possible damage to adjoining structural parts
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Dust aspiration at the source when cleaning joint faces as described in Abatement Step 2.
  • Putty knife/scrapper
  • Suitable for reworking joint faces with shaving or scraping
  • Suitable for removing loose or crumbling caulk
  • Advantages:
  • Suitable for rough joint faces

  • Disadvantages:
  • Poor cutting action
  • Small particle debris at the joint faces
  • Longer joints and hard caulk
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Dust aspiration at the source when removing loose or crumbling caulk as described in Abatement Step 2.
  • Bush hammer
  • Suitable for hammering away hard or well-attached caulk residue on hard, robust areas
  • Advantages:
  • No heavy dust development

  • Disadvantages:
  • Limited to hard and solid surfaces
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Dust aspiration at the source when removing loose or crumbling caulk as described in Abatement Step 2.
  • Hammer and chisel
  • Suitable for very hard, brittle, or wide joints > 2 cm
  • Advantages
  • For very hard caulk

  • Disadvantages
  • Possible damage to structural parts
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Dust aspiration at the source when removing loose or crumbling caulk as described in Abatement Step 2.
  • Electromechanical Tools
    Electrical joint cutter with oscillating blade
  • Universally applicable tool for cutting out hard and soft caulk, especially in combination with a utility knife; suitable for all material types of adjoining structures
  • Less suitable for removing caulk that is difficult to access
  • Not suitable for very hard caulk
  • Advantages:
  • Short, sturdy blade that is easily exchangeable
  • Handy, acceptable weight
  • Low dust volume
  • Typically low risk of damage to joint faces with careful work

  • Disadvantages:
  • Moderate exertion required;
  • No integrated dust aspiration
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Maintain negative air pressure with induced draft fan equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters
  • Dust aspiration at source when removing loose or crumbling caulk as described in Abatement Step 2.
  • Electrical scraper with exchangeable blades
  • Universally applicable tool for soft to hard caulk, especially in combination with a utility knife;
  • Suitable for difficult-to-access joint areas in corners and along edges
  • Also suitable for reworking joint faces
  • Not suitable for very hard caulk
  • Advantages:
  • Lightweight device, handy
  • Low exertion
  • Low dust volume

  • Disadvantages:
  • No integrated dust aspiration
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Maintain negative air pressure with induced draft fan equipped with HEPA filters
  • Dust aspiration at source when cleaning joint faces as described in Abatement Step 2.
  • Needle hammer
  • On level areas: for broad, shallow dummy joints and connection joints
  • Advantages:
  • Removal of firmly attached, hard caulk

  • Disadvantages:
  • Higher dust volume; possible damage to adjoining structures
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Maintain negative air pressure with induced draft fan equipped with HEPA filters
  • Dust aspiration at source when cleaning joint faces as described in Abatement Step 2.
  • Jigsaw with exchangeable saw blades
  • Tool with integrated dust aspiration. Use is limited to deep joints with free space in accordance with blade length
  • Only suitable for cutting out the caulk
  • Not suitable for reworking joint faces
  • Not suitable for difficult-to-access joint areas in corners and along edges
  • Advantages:
  • Good cutting rate for semi-soft and hard caulk
  • Integrated dust aspiration

  • Disadvantages:
  • Only suitable for joints in vertical planes with open joint backup
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Maintain negative air pressure with induced draft fan equipped with HEPA filters
  • Connection of the integrated dust aspiration device to an industrial vacuum with HEPA filters.
  • Diamond sanding device
  • Electrical joint cutter with oscillating, diamond-coated cleaning blade and integrated dust aspiration
  • Only suitable for cleaning joint faces
  • Advantages:
  • Low dust volume compared to angle grinder
  • Integrated dust aspiration

  • Disadvantages:
  • Heat development and gaseous emission production not clarified
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Maintain negative air pressure with induced draft fan equipped with HEPA filters
  • Connection of the integrated dust aspiration device to an industrial vacuum with HEPA filters.
  • Rotary cutting tools
  • Only suitable for cutting out the caulk
  • Not suitable for reworking joint faces
  • Suitable for difficult-to-access joint areas along edges; not suitable for accessing corners
  • Advantages:
  • Lightweight device, handy
  • Low exertion
  • Typically low risk of damage to joint faces with careful work

  • Disadvantages:
  • Higher dust volume
  • No integrated dust aspiration
  • General personal protective measures
  • Construction of a Containment Area enclosure
  • Maintain negative air pressure with induced draft fan equipped with HEPA filters
  • Dust aspiration at source when cleaning joint faces as described in Abatement Step 2.
  • Chemical-Physical Methods
    Dry ice (CO2) blasting
  • Suitable for gentle reworking of joint faces
  • Suitable for large joint lengths
  • Advantages:
  • Gentle on the surrounding materials
  • Good cleaning performance (Note: In some cases, the method cannot completely remove caulk)
  • Good performance for large joint lengths

  • Disadvantages:
  • Expensive (especially in combination with high demands for protective measures)
  • Complex requirements for protective measures
  • Enclosure of the work area with airtight seal, negative pressure and controlled air exchange, dust aspiration at the source
  • Full respirator with fresh air supply and protective suit
  • Noise and ear protection (noise levels range from 85 to 120 dBA, depending on the device)
  • Previous page: Steps to Safe PCB Abatement Activities

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