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Old 09-09-2019, 08:18 PM   #1
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Best Solvent To Remove RV Window & Roof Caulk?

Hi all,

I've been doing research on what the best solvent is to remove RV window and roof caulk. I don't know what was used by the previous owners, but I'm currently using Pro-Flex to seal up the windows and panels on the sides, and I'm open to caulk product suggestions for the roof. I have a 1996 Lance Squire 8000.

I'm at the point where I need to get a solvent to get the rest of the caulking off. Originally I thought I might get So Brite DSR-5 (also known as Re-Mov), but the reviews are mixed, and some of the prices are high: https://www.amazon.com/So-Brite-DSR-...ustomerReviews

The local RV store rep suggested Crest Acry-Solv, which also isn't cheap, but may be more reasonable than the So Brite product. Crest Acry-Solv seems pretty rare, but here is some positive commentary on it:

There's also this Transtar Acry-Solvent, which is less expensive and got some good Amazon reviews, although somebody said he prefers benzene, which I think I'll take a pass on. I don't know if any of them are using it to remove RV caulking though: https://www.amazon.com/TRANSTAR-9784...ustomerReviews

Has anybody used any of these 3 solvents to remove RV caulk? Or do you have a suggestion for something else to use to remove RV caulking?

I'm leaning towards going with the Crest Acry-Solv, but let me know if you have any information for me, thanks.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:27 PM   #2
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Have you tried calling Lance? I assume that you will use mechanical removal (razor blade) for all but the last layer. Since the last layer is likely what came from the factory they may be able to steer you in the right direction. Surely they will be able to tell you what to avoid so you don't damage anything. Good Luck.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:41 PM   #3
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We have a fiberglass shell with only standard decals, no paint. When I'm removing old caulk, I start with a utility knife to trim againist the high side and then a razor blade paint scraper to remove it on the flat surface. Final cleanup is done with acetone. It does not damage the fiberglass but removes old caulk very easily. I use Pro Flex to caulk all exterior joints.

Someone else needs to comment about removing caulk from painted surfaces.
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Old 09-09-2019, 08:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by arcaguy View Post
Have you tried calling Lance? I assume that you will use mechanical removal (razor blade) for all but the last layer. Since the last layer is likely what came from the factory they may be able to steer you in the right direction. Surely they will be able to tell you what to avoid so you don't damage anything. Good Luck.
I've called Lance before about something, and I remember the employee being totally unhelpful. I think he suggested I use Google or something, but it's worth a try, so I'll call Lance tomorrow.

In terms of what tools to use, I have a putty knife, and a couple plastic scrapers I got from the RV store. Should I also get a razor blade, and if so, which brand and model?

I was thinking I should also get a small container to put a small amount of the solvent in, and a paintbrush to dab it on.

If there's anything else to add, or any other products I should get, let me know.

Thanks
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:15 PM   #5
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I would not bother with a putty knife. Get a simple paint scrapper that uses single edge safety razor blades. You need to run the blade almost flat on the surface. The blades will get dull pretty quick, so have get a supply of spare blades. I'd buy one from any of the hardware box stores. I got an old one about 39 years old and a new one. both are good. You also want a razor blade utility knife.

I'd strongly recommend using a 9mil disposable glove handling any of the solvents. The thinner gloves may not hold up very long with these solvents.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:54 AM   #6
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I would not bother with a putty knife. Get a simple paint scrapper that uses single edge safety razor blades. You need to run the blade almost flat on the surface. The blades will get dull pretty quick, so have get a supply of spare blades. I'd buy one from any of the hardware box stores. I got an old one about 39 years old and a new one. both are good. You also want a razor blade utility knife.

I'd strongly recommend using a 9mil disposable glove handling any of the solvents. The thinner gloves may not hold up very long with these solvents.
Thanks, this seems like good info.

If anybody has anything else to add, on the solvents or otherwise, let me know.

I also need to find out what the best roofing caulk is too.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:38 AM   #7
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I recently removed the 3M film from the front of my RV with a product called AutoTech.

I used that solution (expensive) and plastic razor blades purchased from Amazon. The solution is well worth it. My neighbor used it to remove stubborn caulk from her bathroom and swears by it too.
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:52 AM   #8
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You can use a heat gun to soften most caulking materials including the adhesive ones. I often heat a putty knife before inserting under a flange or molding to separate it from th surface. Mineral spirits or paint thinner works well to clean the surface before applying new caulk and does not hurt any paint like acetone would.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:55 AM   #9
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As for the roof it depends where you need to seal. If its on any kind of slope I still use Pro-Flex, same as the sides. If its totally flat I use the DiCore self leveling product. I have a EPDM roof. Just make sure the surface is clean before applying any caulk or sealant. On the roof I use a solution of Dawn or sometimes a window cleaner. Never apply more caulk over old caulk. If a joint keeps opening up then you've probably got some movement between panels or sections, find out why its moving and get it fixed.

You may want to wear disposable gloves. Use a quality caulk gun to get a decent bead applied. I got a pneumatic caulk gun that applies a very nice even bead.

Good luck....
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:36 AM   #10
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I use a reciprocating blade (a "Fein" tool) with no teeth on the blade. Cuts through putty like butter. But be careful if you have a rubber roof as it will also cut through that.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:24 PM   #11
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Thanks, some good information here.

So far the Auto Tech Quick N Easy Adhesive Remover seems like the best stuff, at least from the reviews I've seen so far: https://www.amazon.com/Auto-Tech-Man...ustomerReviews

Using a heat gun on a putty knife, and to soften the old caulk, seems like it'd help well.

Regarding "never apply new caulk over old caulk", here's the deal. I have a spinal cord injury so I hired somebody to strip the old caulking, and apply Pro Flex. He got a bit more than halfway done and we had to stop. Some of it's ok, but the new guy who's going to help with this says there may be areas that could be better. Are we not able to clean those areas and do touch ups by adding more Pro Flex? If not, then it seems like a waste, but I do want to make sure it's done right. Or is there another product we could use for spot touch ups on the Pro Flex?

I have heard of DiCore for the roof. Is that the best roof caulk product to get then?

A pneumatic caulk gun seems cool, but also expensive. I have a couple regular caulk guns. I'm primarily concerned with sealing completely against water seeping in and causing damage, and not quite as concerned with cosmetics, although it's nice if it looks good too of course.

Dav, the Fein tool seems interesting, but would a plastic razor blade be gentler? Which Fein tool model, and which part for it, would you suggest for this job? https://fein.com/en_ca/multi-tools/tools/

Thanks!
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:09 AM   #12
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There are lots of oscillating ("FEIN") tools out there. Fein was the original.
Here's another
https://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DCS355...0683&s=gateway

Nice because battery powered. If you already have a brand of battery tools, they probably make an oscillating tool too so you can reuse the batteries. My oscillating is AC powered as I use it a lot. Great tool. Only problem is the blades are pretty expensive no matter what brand (they are generally compatible with many brands of tool).

Certainly a plastic razor will be gentler but it will take many hours longer. Just depends on your experience with power tools on which is the best solution. You can take the majority off with the power tool, then do the final with plastic manual blades too. I put one hand behind the blade between the bottom of the tool and the roof somewhat in my palm. Then the other hand on the tool trigger. This positioning allows for finite control over the angle and depth of the blade relative to the roof. Also can protect the roof from tool scratches if it's painted.

If you do any wood work (flooring, cabinetry, even rough) it's a very handy tool and worthy of it's place in the tool cabinet.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:12 PM   #13
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Turpentine; it's one of the few inexpensive solvents that does not contain petroleum products. I used it when I cleaned and re-caulked my roof/gutter seams.
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:13 AM   #14
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I took the camper to the local RV shop, and it seems the consensus is that everything has to be re-sealed. One of the guys told me that Par Bond is currently on the roof. He also said instead of trying to chase down a leak, it would be better to just strip all the old stuff off, and redo everything.

This seems like a potentially really big job for my aide, so I'm hoping it'll work out. He does have roofing experience, but no RV experience, so hopefully it will be sealed up really well by the time it's all said and done. I definitely want to fix the leak(s), and protect the camper from water damage.

I was talking to my neighbor, and she told me this: "My dad had a leaky trailer, and he would put a couple of coats of snow coat on it. It actually held up pretty well, and I was even able to sell it after he died, and he kids lived in it quite a while. Just saying getting someone to roll on a good coat of that might be easier than a caulking and sealing all the seams. Also that sealant they sell on tv has a paint on kind, and some in a tube, that I hear seals up everything even on the worst conditions. I can’t remember what it’s called. Riteaide had some in its “as seen on tv “ aisle."

I'm not familiar with Snow Coat, or this Paint On Sealant that she's talking about. I did see stuff like Heng's and Henry's RV Roof Coatings, which I'm also not familiar with. Are those just for roofs? And is there any Coating/Sealant for the sides of a camper? I have a 1996 Lance Squire 8000, and the materials the camper is made out of determine which of these Coating Products you need, right?

What can you guys tell me about all this? It would be nice if this sealing job could be done easily, but I feel like I'll have to do what it takes to get it done right, within reason. The guy who sold it to me told me there were no leaks, and we didn't think there were any when we looked it over. I don't think he was trying to screw me, and the camper seems to be in fairly good shape otherwise, but this is giving me a big headache.

Thanks.
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