Sealant Manufacturers produce a variety of products, including thermoset and RTV sealants. These are used in construction to bond substrates together and bridge gaps, preventing structural movement or air leakage. In addition to being highly versatile, these types of sealants also offer low maintenance, reduce long-term expenses and increase building stability and longevity. They are particularly useful for commercial projects where aesthetics are important, such as in office buildings and retail facilities.
In order for sealants to work as intended, their physical properties must be appropriate for the application. Designating the correct sealant for a project requires more than just considering the substrates to be joined and the joint design, however. Production requirements, economic costs, production schedules and more must be taken into account.
A key consideration is whether the sealant can accommodate movement. This is accomplished by one of two mechanisms. The first is internal flow under stress, a property known as creep, cold flow or plastic flow. The second method involves a rubber-like characteristic of the sealant that allows it to deform or expand under stress but, once the pressure is released, recover and regain its original shape. Both of these characteristics can be achieved in modern sealants that use synthetic elastomeric polymers for flexibility.
The chemistry of a sealant is also an important factor. Like adhesive systems, many sealant formulations contain base polymer, fillers, plasticizers and thixotropic agents in addition to adhesion promoters, catalysts and curing agents. Additionally, accessory materials like primers, back-up tapes and back-fill products may also be included in the product line.
Depending on the application, some sealants must be able to withstand temperature extremes and other environmental factors. In addition to testing the chemical resistance of sealants in laboratory conditions, outdoor weathering tests are often conducted with both the sealant and construction materials being exposed to the same test conditions. This helps ensure that any changes observed are due to direct contact between the sealant and construction material and not to other aging influences.
A number of the major construction sealant manufacturers have laboratories for conducting this type of research and development. They include Click Bond, Inc. with its facility in Carson City, NV, and Franklin International with its Church Hill, TN, location. Both companies make and market a wide range of construction adhesives and sealants that are sold in more than 60 countries.
The demand for construction sealants is expected to rise significantly in the coming years, driven by increasing urbanization and population growth across the globe. In addition, stricter governing and environmental challenges are causing companies to develop eco-friendly construction sealant solutions that are less harmful to the environment. As a result, silicone and polyurethane sealant technologies are increasingly being replaced by hybrid technologies that are both environmentally friendly and have comparable performance. This trend is expected to continue in the near future. For this reason, it is important for construction professionals to select the best product for each specific project.