When it comes to leaks and cracks duct tape may not be the best option. That tape can work but eventually, it will wear down and the leak returns. When you have cracks and leaks to deal with, then go for butyl tape. It is strong, last longer than duct tape, and takes forever to remove.
There are many good suggestions out there and one includes a plastic putty knife. But this little tool can’t do the job alone. You need to use a heat gun or hair dryer to weaken the tape so the plastic putty knife can scrape the tape off almost completely. Then use WD-40 or mineral spirits to get the rest.
To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can do a great job removing the butyl tape from your RV or trailer. This is not always going to be an easy task.
Before we get started, a few words describing this tape is in order. There are many people out there still that have no idea what kind of tape this is and how good it is.
This tape is made from a rubber-like compound that is both waterproof and corrosion-resistant. It is also very sticky and adheres to most surfaces with ease.
This tape comes in 4 formats:
- single-sided tape
- double-sided tape
- butyl sealant
- butyl patty
It is probably recommended more by RV owners than duct tape is. This tape is probably better than duct tape as it holds the water out so you can remain dry inside.
Plus, it works on many applications including windows, pipes, decks, rooftops, and much more. This tape has become popular because it easily adheres to a variety of surfaces and is very hard to remove.
Also, it seals so well that one application may be all you will need for many years to come.
It is possible to conclude that this tape variety can be considered permanent. The reason most people would come to that conclusion would be that it sticks to almost any surface very well and it is very difficult to remove.
But nothing is permanent and there may be a time when it will eventually lose its adhesive qualities. But so far, no one has been around long enough to find out when that time is.
Let’s just say that, once you put butyl tape in place, you may never have to replace it. Unless you want to do work in that area and it needs to come up. The fact that you can remove this tape, means that it is technically not permanent.
The removal process can be quite difficult adding to the reputation of the strength of this tape. It will not let go without a strong fight. It will last as long as you own your RV if you do not have to make any roof or window, etc., replacements.
Everything has a weakness. Once you find that weakness you can take care of the problem with relative ease. For butyl tape, that weakness is ammonia and specific solvents.
However, this tape breaks down so slowly, it may take a while before those chemicals can effectively dissolve this tape. Many people have tried and found that coating the tape with a solvent and then covering it with Saran Wrap helps the solvent break this tape down quicker.
What most owners do is use heat and a plastic putty knife to remove most of this tape. Heat softens the tape up making it easier for the putty knife to lift it off. This takes some time though.
After that, these owners use something like WD-40, mineral spirits, and even silicone remover to get the residue left behind. This is not going to be an easy task as the tape may not fully dissolve with ammonia and you will have to resort to other methods to get it off.
The best way to apply heat would be a heat gun, hair dryer, or a plastic welding tool.
Mineral spirits are one of those specific solvents that we mentioned earlier. It is a paint thinner with some good chemical properties. Just apply it like you would ammonia, pouring some on a rag or directly onto the tape, and let it sit for a while.
The mineral spirits should get most of the tape off for you but it may leave some tape behind as well as an oily residue. If you are not having much success at removing this tape with mineral spirits, there are other strong adhesive removers that will do the trick.
Any solvent-based adhesive remover should be strong enough to handle this tape. Many people use mineral spirits after using the putty knife and heat. That makes the work a little easier to perform.
You have a lot of choices out there to use and pick the one that you trust and think will do the best job. Your cost will depend on where you like to shop for DIY items.
The non-brand list includes a heat gun, hair dryer, plastic putty knife, plastic welder, adhesive remover, xylene and toluene (aggressive solvents), solvents, mineral spirits, and ammonia. You can pick these items up just about anywhere.
The brand items that should help remove this tape include Goo Gone, 3M General Purpose Adhesive Remover, Custom Shop Restoration Grease, and Wax Remover, Mckanica silicone remover, WD-40, and more.
We are not sure if Mckanica silicone remover is still being made and sold as it is unavailable at Amazon and other outlets right now. Even Walmart does not carry this product in its online store at the moment.
After you use an adhesive remover or a solvent, make sure to wash the area to remove those cleaning products before they harm your RV or trailer’s walls, roofs, and other key parts.
Solvents come in different formulas as well. You can select those solvents that are made from the following products:
- Citrus-based removers (like Goo Gone, is best for common household messes)
- Soy-based removers (good for tacky bonds)
- Solvent-based removers (strongest on the market)
- “Greener” adhesive removers (more environmentally friendly)
Rubber roofs can be tricky. You have to be careful about what type of products you use on these roofs because the chemicals or other formulas are not rubber friendly.
The best option and probably the safest one to use on a rubber roof would be a heat gun or hair dryer and a plastic putty knife. Just heat up[ the tape and let the plastic putty knife do the work.
But, this process may still leave some adhesive residue behind. That is when you need to find a cleanser that will work with rubber roofs and still get the residue off.
You can check the list of adhesive removers from the above lists and see which one is the most compatible with a rubber roof. Some people have suggested that you can use turpentine or mineral spirits.
But only dampen the cloth and do not flood the area with those two products. GooGone is also recommended although some people have said that it is not to be used on rubber roofs.
The best thing to do is read the labels of the different adhesive removers and see what they say. There should be warnings on the labels telling you which surfaces they can or cannot be applied.
There are a variety of methods you can use to remove this tape from a metal roof. The heat and a plastic putty knife or scraper are always good options. But this may leave some residue behind.
One recommendation is to use WD-40 and saturate the tape with this compound. Using a plastic putty knife with WD-40 is essential. Plus, you can use WD-40 to clean up any residue adhesive left behind once you have pulled off the tape.
Other methods include using solvents but do not saturate the area. Use a rag to put the solvents over the tape and you can be generous when applying those solvents.
Paint thinner, like mineral spirits, will also work well. The key to removing butyl tape is to not damage the area around where the tape was applied. You do not want to damage any sealants that have been used to keep water out of your RV or trailer.
You probably won’t escape the elbow grease part of this equation. You will have to work at removing this tape, no matter which method you choose to use. Block out some time to get this job done correctly.
Any of the methods we have already discussed here should work on glass. Heat and a putty knife will be your best options. Once the butyl tape gets heated up it becomes more flexible.
That state makes it easier to remove the tape with the putty knife. Then just wash the glass down with different solvents to remove any adhesive residue. After you have done that, use soap and water to remove the solvents.
Glass may be a little easier to remove than say metal, wood, or other surfaces. You should have more removal options at your disposal with this surface. One of those extra options could be mild liquid soap mixed with a little vinegar and warm water.
All you need is a cup of warm water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap, and mix well. Then apply as needed. Other options can be nail polish remover, acetone, lighter fluid, and similar products.
These alternatives just might take a little longer with butyl tape adhesive as it is stronger than other adhesive tapes. Do a test to see which one will work the best.
Not many people are talking about this situation. The reason may be that not many people get this adhesive on their clothing. Or they wear old clothes when working with it so it does not matter if they remove it or not.
When it comes to clothing you have to be careful. The solvents or removers you use on other surfaces may damage the fibers and ruin your shirt or pants. Hopefully, you do not get a lot of this tape on your clothing. But if you do here is what you should do:
1. Use the edge of a spoon to scrape as much of the adhesive off as possible. Just do not press so hard that you damage those clothing fibers. Light pressure is about all you can use.
2. When you are done with the spoon, use some hand sanitizer and your fingers. Apply about a dime-sized amount to the adhesive residue and work it in with your fingers.
As the hand sanitizer loosens the adhesive, remove it with your fingers. Just be firm but gentle when doing this step.
3. Wash your clothes with mild soap and warm water to remove the hand sanitizer.
This is slow work and it may be best that you do wear old clothes when working with butyl tape.
Using a great product like butyl tape makes life a little easier. The reason we say that is because this tape seals cracks, etc., and makes sure you do not have a leak anywhere.
Plus, you get some peace of mind knowing that once this tape is in place, you never have to fool with it again. It remains in place for life or until you need to remove it.
The only drawback to this tape is that it costs about $1 per foot depending on the outlet you are buying it at.