Sunday, 21 October 2012

How to Clean Weatherseal from Vinyl Siding

I know that this is kind of out of the normal "realm" of things - but this created a lot of frustration for me over the last few months.

Back in July, I cleaned and weathersealed my wood deck.  I used a tinted Thompson's Weatherseal.  I was very happy with how it looked once it was finished being applied.

Of course, true to fashion, the week I decided that this needed to get done, it was 35 degrees C everyday.  Which meant that I had a time frame of only a few hours in the morning to apply the weatherseal when it was semi-cool in order for the weatherseal to spread on the wood nicely and when I wasn't bound to DIE of heat exhaustion. 

5am to 10am.  That was it. 

Any other time and it was too hot or I didn't have enough light.

So with no rain in the forecast, I would get up at the crack of insane and start weathersealing the deck.  I think it took me about 3 or 4 mornings.

I have a big deck!  Also, I did my front step.

When it came time to do the outside of the lower deck, it never occurred to me to put painter's tape on the vinyl siding.  Maybe because it was the crack of crazy and all my poor brain could conceive was "weatherseal the deck, weatherseal the deck".

And I made a MESS.  While the deck looks fantastic - the vinyl siding was a colorful array of white and the brown weatherseal.

Lovely right?  And that spot wasn't too bad....

I had no idea how to clean it off when I was done. 

Clearly, water wouldn't work.  Considering it's a WATER SEALANT.

I snooped around and snooped around on the Internet.  No one seemed to have any answers. 

I was completely terrified to use a paint thinner because I didn't want to strip the colour off the vinyl siding.

I did find a video on You Tube where this guy used Fast Orange with pumice and cleaned up his siding - I tried that, but it didn't work.

Then, a light bulb went off over my head.  Seriously, if I'd run to the mirror in that instant I could have seen it.  Like in a cartoon.

Clearly, an acetone like paint thinner was not an option....  But what about NON-acetone nail polish remover???? 

As luck would have it - I had some from 800 years ago hiding under my bathroom sink.  (I'm pretty sure almost EVERYONE has nail polish remover under their sinks that they don't use because they're like me and don't bother with their nails - but they still have the remover....  It's a fact - run and check under your bathroom sink - there's a big chance that there's some under there.)

I tried it out on a small bit of vinyl siding in the back of the deck where you wouldn't see if the colour was stripped from the siding.

You know what?  It WORKS.

So I wanted to share it with you here today, just in case someone out there in the big wide web needs help cleaning weatherseal from vinyl siding.

Here's what you're going to need.

Cotton pads (I use these ones to remove make-up), non-acetone nail polish remover, a scrub brush, a soft cloth, a bucket of warm, soapy water, the hose to rinse, and a heck of a lot of elbow grease and time.

Here's the method that I found works the best.  Lightly saturate the cotton pads with non-acetone nail polish remover and press them onto the spots where the weatherseal is.  I found that mine actually stuck to the siding - which is great because the next step is to let those cotton pads with the non-acetone nail polish remover sit and soak for 20 minutes to half an hour.

After soaking, use those little pads to rub, rub, rub as much of the weatherseal off as you can.  Then, use the nail scrub brush to get in the grooves of the siding - if your siding is textured.  I found that if you dip the brush into a bowl with non-acetone nail polish remover in it, it's much more efficient.

Wipe down the now clean area with the warm, soapy water and spray down with clean water from the hose.

Those heavy spots will require a second treatment, or you could try and scrape them off with your nail.


Et voila!  Be prepared - depending on the amount of weatherseal you have to clean this could take quite some time.  My deck is 26 feet x 12 feet and it took me 6 hours to do 40% of the deck (that's my best guesstimate).

Always remember to test a small area in an inconspicuous spot to make sure that this procedure is appropriate for your situation.

Also, always remember to wear the proper safety equipment.  Gloves, safety glasses, and clothing you wouldn't mind getting destroyed (it could happen).

*I am not a professional.  This is just what worked for me.  If you are unsure, consult your local hardware store or paint specialist professional.*

I hope this is helpful to someone out there and that you'll be able to take advantage of my light bulb moment!!!

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

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