By John Laird; edited by Matthew Marks; additional material from Rick Hughes
You should be able to remove old sealant with a sharp razor blade and some care. Run the blade down the wall and along the bath to release the edges, and with a bit of luck the strip should come out in one go - good stuff has more of an affinity for itself than the surrounding material. If it has squeezed down into a crack, it may be easier to cut through the strip and leave the rest behind - if it's well stuck, I'd figure you may as well leave it. Then make sure there's no residual dust and that the surfaces are completely dry. Meths has been suggested as an aid to remove old sealant, and certainly cleans the surfaces.
As for mould resistance, I've never had any problem with the more expensive, high-silicone varieties. Whatever you do, don't buy cheap stuff ! You should be able to tell the difference from the pack - if "silicone" doesn't appear, or if it doesn't tell you that a vinegar smell is released during curing, leave well alone. Wickes charge about 4-5 pounds for a 310ml tube. Get a sealant "gun" as well. Cheaper sealants are acrylic-based and much less durable.
Et voila ! Easy really, after 3 or 4 goes :-)
CliveE 24-10-99, on removing silicone sealant:
I use a scalpel blade to remove as much of the silicone sealant as possible and then apply some Silicone Sealant Remover. This is available in small tubes which fit in your sealant gun, usually on the same shelves as the sealant itself. It costs around £6 for a 150ml tube. Follow the manufacturer's instructions which will normally be to apply a layer of the stuff, leave for 2-3 hours and then scrape the dissolved silicone off with a spatula. Repeat if necessary, and then clean up with methylated spirits.
Ian White wrote:
Try this method - it came from a full-time bath installer, and it does work. First lay down two parallel strips of masking tape, taking lots of care to get them straight and evenly spaced. Apply a bead of sealant, rather more than you're going to need. Never mind about the ripples, so long as it doesn't go too thin anywhere. Smooth down the bead using a finger that has been well soaked in a very strong solution of washing-up liquid (50-50). This prevents the sealant from sticking to your finger, far better than water alone. If any does stick, it just means that you haven't soaked that finger thoroughly enough yet, so just rub the sealant off in the soap solution. Push the excess sealant out on to the masking tape, and smooth both edges of the bead right down to the thickness of the tape. Then very carefully peel away the masking tape, and just run your soapy finger along each exposed edge of the fillet to remove the roughness. It produces a very professional-looking job. This obviously works best for long, straight runs like the edge of a bath. For curves you have to trim the masking tape first with a craft knife [or scalpel].
Update: See more detail on the modern tools available for smoothing (WIKI)
By Steve Barnes 23/4/1996
1. Clean the tiles with a weak detergent, and remove any blemishes.
2. Clean with cellulose thinners to make sure there is no grease on the tiles. Be sure not to touch the tiles after you do this!
3. Paint with a plaster primer and allow to dry for 24-48 hours.
4. Apply your finishing coat (liquid gloss recommended).
MM: Tile paint is also now available!
By Matthew Marks 23/4/1996
As this crops up so often in the newsgroup, there must be an awful lot of people who hate the stuff :-). Anyway, the consensus seems to be NOT to sand it - not only does this produce a horrendous amount of dust but early Artex contained asbestos fibres - but to remove with a steam wallpaper stripper. Failing that, you can always skim plaster over it.
By Donald Gray 10/5/1996
You can do a great job re-polishing plastics, especially harder plastics like Perspex. It depends on the depth of scratch on which technique to use.
1. Start off with "Wet & Dry" paper (say grade 600) using a soapy water as a lubricant. (The water is vital to keep the paper grains free.) Gently "grind" away at the area until you cannot see the original scratches. (The area will go like frosted glass, but don't worry at this just yet!);
2. Change grade of Wet & Dry to 800 and do the same;
3. Change to grade 1200 wet & dry. do same grinding... (The basic principle behind this is to substitute deep scratches with shallower and shallower ones.);
4. Once you have got through the 1200 grade process, thoroughly clean &dry the area;
5. Use "Duraglit" or "Brasso" BRASS polish to remove the "frosted" effect;
6. Once this looks nice and shiny, use a SILVER polish to give a final finish.
SECRET: Take time; don't rush it. Even when you think the scratches have gone, give the process a bit longer. There are NO short cuts to polishing, but it can be done in less time that one thinks....
Most DIY or car maintenance stores now stock the finer grades of "Wet & Dry" papers. (Tip: I keep a penknife razor sharp using 600 & 800 grade!) Don't forget: Soapy water is ESSENTIAL.
By Colin Bignell 06/10/1999
Try one of the motor accessory shops, which should have kits for dealing with windscreen scratches.
By Kev 06/10/1999
You have two options - one as Colin suggests involves basically filling the scratch in with a resin having the same refractive index as the glass, so it doesn't show, and the second is polishing the scratch out. This involves much hard work and elbow grease. DON'T use any abrasives such as Duraglit - and definitely no abrasive papers of any kind, or you'll finish up with a scratch surrounded by a nice opaque patch. The professionals use Ceria (cerium oxide) or Jeweller's rouge (iron oxide). [NB both of these are very fine abrasives.] Ceria can be obtained from good craft shops, as it is used in gemstone tumblers. Use it as a paste (mix with water) on a soft cloth, and just keep on rubbing!
I should emphasise that household abrasive cream cleaners are all unsuitable as they either won't have any effect, or they'll scratch the surrounding glass depending on how much abrasive is in them.
By Ken Clark 20/6/1996
For those who like me, have limited facilities and have difficulty drilling largish holes in sheet metal, there is a simple way of ensuring that you end up with a smooth hole without burrs. Position and secure the work as usual. Drill a small pilot hole as a matter of good practice. Take a piece of thin cloth about 3 x 3 inches and fold it twice to make a small pad. Place the pad over the small hole and bring the large drill down so that it takes the spinning cloth through the hole as the large drill makes it's way through the metal. If you practice on a couple of pieces first you'll rapidly see what is expected - it's easy, safe and it does make a beautifully smooth, round hole instead of the octagonal horrors I always used to make. Oh, and it doesn't matter too much about the colour of the cloth!
By Matthew Marks
People often ask how to prevent icy draughts coming up through gaps between shrunken floorboards. The boards can, of course, be removed and re-layed properly butted (and tools are available to ensure this), but this is a major job. Also, floor coverings will stop the air movement. Besides that, people have come up with various suggestions:-
By Chris French 15/4/1998)
Buildings built in the 1960's or earlier are likely to contain lead. While sound paint surfaces present no risk, particles or flakes of lead paint present a risk to health, especially to children if ingested.
Lead paint can be removed safely as long as some simple precautions are taken. The main aim is to avoid producing any dust containing lead or lead fumes which can be released if the paint is burnt.
Don't burn off with a blowtorch, as this produces lead fumes.
Don't rub down dry, especially with a power sander, as this produces lead rich dust, which will spread around the house.
Use a hot air gun (but don't burn paint), chemical paint stripper, or rub down wet, using "wet or dry" paper.
Dispose of all paint debris in a sealed plastic bag in dustbin. Don't use a normal domestic vacuum to clean up, as the filters are not normally fine enough to trap the lead dust: hire an high efficiency industrial one instead.
Wash hands etc. thoroughly before eating and after finishing work
This information was taken from a leaflet published by the
Paintmakers' Association, James House Bridge Street Leatherhead Surrey KT22 7EP Tel. 01372 360660 Fax. 01372 376069
By Mike Dean 15/9/1998
Painted or vinyl wallpaper can be hard to remove, as the paint/plastic stops the water you apply getting to the dried paste behind. You therefore have to score it with a special tool, or some nails hammered through a piece of wood. After this, apply the same technique as for ordinary wallpaper: use the hottest water you can stand, and put some washing-up liquid in it to encourage it to adhere to the paper. Most importantly: give it time to work.