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I make windows and doors, and a great way to make sure that they open and close smoothly is to use silicone lubricant spray on the rubber weatherseals. While silicone lube is fine to use on painted surfaces, it does affect any repainting - the paint can't adhere to the silicone and causes "fish-eyes" or "pinholes" in the paint.

We use a water-based, micro-porous exterior paint. I've asked our supplier and they said:

That is a bit tricky, as we don’t want to use any solvent chemicals to remove the silicone, as it could remove some of the top coat too. We don’t mention any specific product in our maintenance guide, but we do recommend cleaning the surface with soapy (fairy) warm water to remove the environmental debris building up in the joints and on horizontal surfaces. This could partially remove the silicone lube, but it may still leave behind traces which will cause pin holes if recoated.

Does anybody have any good techniques for removing silicone? I'm thinking of telling customers to clean with soapy water, lightly sand and then clean again. Would that do it?

Of course I could stop using silicone spray but the stuff works miracles on sticking doors etc. so ideally I'd find a solution.

I'm also open to suggestions of alternative lubricants I could use which would achieve the same thing (not damaging paintwork or rubbers whilst being effective) but not affect paint and/or be easier to clean off fully.

Edit: Just to be absolutely clear, silicone lube has been sprayed on fully finished joinery (water-based paint), and I want to know how best to clean it off when repainting (which is required every few years as a maintenance operation).

  • That's a tough situation. Silicone will come off with a variety of solvents, you might just have to try a few to see which removes the silicone without damaging the paint. Acetone, ethanol, and propanol are good places to start... – aaron Feb 23 '16 at 13:20
  • I suspect a good scrubbing with warm soapy water and a brillow pad will generally do the trick. You could always do a few experiments to see how well it works on test pieces – bowlturner Feb 24 '16 at 3:25
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    It's too late for existing projects, but I'd recommend a thorough masking before spraying for any future projects. Good painter's tape and some old newspaper should prevent the spray from hitting the wood, then there's no need to worry about cleaning it up. – FreeMan Feb 24 '16 at 20:55
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Dow-Corning has a product that sounds like it should do the job Dow Corning 0S2 Silicone Cleaner and Surface Prep Solvent. which is a volatile methylsiloxane (VMS) fluid.

This is basically a spray-it-on, wipe-it-off procedure with more thorough instructions available at this location. At $14 for a spray canful it seems like it would be worth a try.

That is a bit tricky, as we don’t want to use any solvent chemicals to remove the silicone, as it could remove some of the top coat too.

Seems like this should not be a problem since the reason for removing the silicone is to apply a new coat of paint.

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After doing some research I have came to conclude the following. Fire, or heat of some kind should be able to remove the stuff. That is the only thing I have been finding. Otherwise you may have to use those harsh chemicals but you do not want to do that so i have no idea what say on that end. And as for using something else I would try WD40. That has none of that in it and does the same thing (assuming on am on the track as you there).

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