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Trouble with Adhesives | “My Instatrim will not stick, what do I do?”

Trouble with Adhesives | “My Instatrim will not stick, what do I do?”

By Greg Amundson- Feb 12, 2020

Tags : Caulk Alternativeeasy caulk removalFlexible TrimInstaTrimPeel and Stick Caulksilicone caulk removal

One of the largest hurdles we face selling a peel and stick caulking product with adhesive is when the consumer contacts us to say “My Instatrim will not stick, what do I do?”.  This is the one issue that will always haunt us.

We tout the benefits of InstaTrim Flexible self-adhesive trim strips as “easy to use”, “you can do your project quickly with no extra tools”, “anyone can install it”, which is all true. So when we hear that it is not sticking, we know all too well what the problem most likely is – the one thing people don’t like to do – the prep work.  Believe me, I get it, when I work on a project, I want instant gratification with little effort AND I want it to look awesome.  Reality is, you need to put in the extra effort with any project that involves adhesives. Adhesive based products inherently carry a failure rate, just ask 3M. So, what’s the problem? 

Adhesives like InstaTrim Peel and Stick caulk need to be able to grab the surface to be successful.  This is called many things but most commonly “tack”, “wetting out” and “bond strength”.

The issues that destroy this adhesive bond are usually:

  • Slippery products like oil-based cleaners (specifically the oil which does not dry thus leaving the cleaned surface looking wet)
  • Grease (like on a kitchen counter)
  • Silicone (like a bathtub where it hasn’t been removed) I’m not going to get into the chemical properties of silicone but if you have ever touched cured silicone it feels slippery or greasy, nothing will stick to old silicone besides more silicone.
  • Dust and dirt are another big culprit. If you have dust, dirt and spider webs, the tack is used up by this stuff sticking to the adhesive and not your application surface.

How do you make sure the surface is properly cleaned and ready for peel and stick caulk? 

The best method is to use a towel and a cleaning solution that contains ammonia or isopropyl alcohol.

For example, most window cleaners will work great. Be sure to check that your cleaning solution does not contain oils or silicone, because they will not allow adhesive to bond to the application surface. Make sure your surface has time to dry after you wipe it down. And most importantly, make sure there is no dust or left-over loose debris or soap scum where you are going to apply InstaTrim.

Remember, NOTHING STICKS TO SILICONE!  So how do you know if the caulk you are removing is silicone based?

Silicone caulk has a rubbery consistency and if it has been there a while, it usually has yellowed, shrunk back and has dirt stuck to it. When in doubt, follow these instructions before installing InstaTrim. It takes a little extra effort, but it is possible to remove all traces of silicone. The best method is to:

  1. Use a razor blade and cut off as much as you can.
  2. Scrub the surfaces with a brush or scrubbing pad to be sure it is all removed. This is because there will still be residual silicone oils that must be removed with a stronger cleaner like acetone or one of the silicone remover products sold online.
  3. Try installing a small piece of InstaTrim before applying the full strip AFTER you’ve removed all dust, debris, silicone and oils from your surfaces. You’ll know you’ve done a good job cleaning if it sticks well.

All of our InstaTrim peel and stick caulking products use an adhesive that does not need to cure, so we can guarantee that our products will adhere to any surface as long as you do the prep work.

As easy as it is to install our caulk replacement strips, remember, you do still need to do a little cleaning before it will adhere to the surface.

Please contact us with any further questions.