Construction Sealants

Construction Sealants

Naturally occurring bitumen and asphalt materials have been widely accepted as sealants for centuries. Prior to the 1900’s most sealants evolved from vegetable, animal, or mineral substances. The development of modern polymeric sealants coincided with the development of the polymer industry itself, sometime in the early 1930’s.

Joint sealants are used to seal joints and openings (gaps) between two or more substrates, and are a critical component for building construction and design. The main purpose of sealants is to prevent air, water, and other environmental elements from entering or exiting a structure while permitting limited movement of the substrates. Specialty sealants are used for special applications, such as fire stops, electrical, or thermal insulation.

When joints fail, leaks and damage to buildings follow. Sealants can help ensure that your buildings stay tight and dry. Modern commercial structures rely heavily on sealants to prevent water damage to buildings and their contents. While residential buildings utilize water shedding techniques such as sloped roofs, lap siding, and overlapping flashings, many commercials designs do not; if a joint fails, there is little or no barrier to leakage. Unfortunately, in today’s building environment, there are many points in the design and construction processes where bad judgment or bad behavior results in sealant failure.

Exterior Most modern homogenous rigid exterior substrates are purposely jointed to allow movement without damage to the material. The two principal causes of movement are thermal expansion and contraction and seismic movement.

The principal exterior substrates that are sealed are:

exterior wall joints ( masonry, concrete, stucco / plaster, EIFS)

door and window frames

concrete paving joints

metal flashings

roof joints

seismic joints

Interior Joints indoors do not normally go through the thermal expansion and contraction that exteriors do, but they are jointed for other reasons. Gypsum board and plaster assemblies, for instance, often require control joints to prevent cracking. Interior joints are usually sealed to keep out dirt and look better. The principal interior substrates that are sealed are:

gypsum board


floor control and expansion joints

kitchen and bathroom wet joints

Alan Trauger is a Building Consultant that performs property condition assessments for residential and commercial properties. An experienced and knowledgeable problem solver, understanding processes and issues related to building structures and their systems. An expert witness, trainer, and educator.

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