Question: What are the best adhesives and sealants for construction these days?


Answer: Adhesives and sealants for the construction industry have dramatically changed over the last 20 years or so. The relevant sealant technologies are:

•   Oil-based sealants and caulks

•   Acrylic emulsions

•   Vinyls

•   Polyurethanes

•   Polysulfides

•   Silicones

•   Solvent-based products

•   Silyl-modified polyethers and silyl-modified polyurethanes

•   Butyls

A major shift is due to volatile organic content (VOC) regulations, where solvent-based products are continuously being replaced by alternatives. The sealants also tend to be differentiated by price and performance. The low-cost, lowest-performance products with short lifetimes and low flexibility like oil-based products and solvent-based sealants are being superseded by high-performance products like silicones, polyurethanes, and silyl-modified polyethers. Product designers and architects are increasingly specifying these products.

Emulsion products like acrylics and vinyls will continue to be important in the DIY segment because of their low cost, ease of use, cleanup with water, and paintability. Specialty sealants such as polysulfides and butyls will continue to grow in the insulated glass industry, due to their extremely low moisture permeability. We can expect significant growth in high-performance sealants in the U.S. because of the construction industry’s recovery from the recession.

 Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of ASI, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.