Choosing the Best Sealant for Your Building Project

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Caulks and sealants have been in use since the days when wooden ships were invented.  Their purpose is to fill the cracks, holes and other small openings that might allow water, bugs or air to enter.

These sealants initially used organic-based materials to fill the gaps in the wooden beams of ships, but now they have changed for the better.

Modern caulks and sealants are comprised of synthetic elastomeric materials like silicone or latex to create the blockage. They also are now used to fill the cracks and holes in various areas of residential and commercial structures.

The three primary areas of any home that form gaps or cracks are pipes, windows and doors. If the frame of your front door or window has just the tiniest crack or opening in it, then it could let bugs, smoke, dust, gas, water, air and moisture from the outside enter the structure.

It could also ruin your home’s insulation by allowing air-conditioned or heated air to escape from the inside, increasing your electric bill. Therefore, you need to have a strong sealant to make your structure a watertight and airtight environment.

The first step is choosing the right sealant. You need to consider the type of application that you are going to do before selecting the best sealant.

Everyone has a different building project, and some sealants are better than others for specific projects. Let’s go over the different types of sealants and how to know which one is right for you.

Types of Caulk and Sealant

There are as many as seven main types of sealant, which are all liquid based. These sealants are latex, acrylic, butyl, polysulfide, silicone, polyurethane and hybrids. They all have various strengths, weaknesses and chemistries.

Latex – This is a cheap sealant that is water-based and easy to use. Latex sealants are mostly used for indoor applications, but there are some high-quality latex sealants that can be applied outside too.

Acrylic – Acrylic is an affordable sealant, but it is more suitable for the commercial applications of joints, which don’t move very much. Acrylic does not have a lot of movement capacity, and it is harder to tool.

Butyl – Butyl is made from synthetic rubber ingredients, which make it a powerful adhesive sealant. However, the sealant does not move much, and its application can be difficult. It is recommended for commercial buildings mostly, especially since it is more moderately priced than the previous two.

Polysulfide – Polysulfide is a special sealant because it is resistant to both chemicals and water. This allows it to be used in submerged areas like swimming pools. The downside is that polysulfide is expensive and must have primer used with it, too.

Silicone – Silicone is a favourite sealant for many kinds of building applications. This is due to its powerful qualities, like its resistance to temperature and UV rays, its long lifespan, its ability to withstand strong movement and its long-term flexibility. The downside is that silicone is expensive and is not paintable.

Polyurethane – Polyurethane is a durable sealant that is paintable while demonstrating resistance to abrasions. It is a stiffer sealant than silicone, which makes tooling it more challenging. You can’t apply it to glass assemblies like you can with silicone, either. Overall, it is a stronger alternative to silicone.

Hybrids – These are the newest forms of sealants that combine the best qualities of other various sealants into one solution. The main hybrids mix the strengths of polyurethane and silicone, which usually gets marketed as silyl-modified.

How to Choose the Right Caulk or Sealant

To know which sealant is right for your project, you need to consider both the performance of the sealant and the area of its application. It also helps to consider the cost if you are under budget constraints.

Your best bet is to consider the safety, performance, appearance and cost of each sealant on your project. It may take some research to figure these things out, but it will be worthwhile.

Eventually, you will become an expert in knowing which sealants are best to use for various types of building projects.