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Classification of sealants

Er. Parbhakar Dwivedi


Sealant compounds vary considerably in the amount of extension and compression movement they can withstand before failure. It is this fact that has led in recent years to the following performance classification based on their maximum movement capability during their service life:

(a) Low range sealants + 5%

(b) Medium range sealants + 5 to +10%, and

(C) High range sealants +121/2% to 25%

In all cases, the movement capability is the maximum percentage of width change in a butt joint, in extension and/or compression, from the originally installed width.

1. Low Range Sealants

These materials are cheap and easy to use products, which have a rather short life due to their very limited movement capability. Oil based and resin based caulks, bituminous based mastics, and polybutene products fall into this classification.

They do not usually harden (set or cure after application), but, instead form a skin on the surface exposed to the atmosphere. The functional extension and compression range of these materials is approximately +_ 5%. They may be used where only small joint movements are anticipated and economy of first cost outweighs that of maintenance and replacement with ageing, most mastics tend to harden in increasing depth due to oxidation and loss of volatile compounds, thus impairing their serviceability Polybutenes and polyisobutylenes have a somewhat longer service life than do the other types of mastics.

Sealants in this class are appropriate for use where little or no movement is expected. Oil-based putty is generally used for fixing glazing in wood and steel windows. A good reason for their use is that they are much cheaper. Other sealants, such as silicone or solvent-based acrylics are much costly.

2. Medium Range Sealants

Included in this group are the acrylics, butyls, neoprenes and other high quality latex materials. The latex used for sealant manufacture is the acrylic latex, rather than PVA latex etc. These materials become fluid on heating and on cooling become an elastic solid, but the changes are physical and no chemical reaction takes place. As the sealant has to be applied in a semi-liquid state, it is only suitable for horizontal joints, used for roads and airfield pavements, but can also be used in the floors if reservoirs and sewage tanks. This group can accommodate more movement than products in the low range category but their use is normally confined to non-working joints and those working joints where relatively small movement is expected Medium range products are generally used for interior work. Their main advantage over low range products is longer service life.

3. High Range Sealants

Materials in this category are one or two component thermosetting compounds, which cure (mature or harden) by chemical reaction to solid state from the liquid or semi-liquid state in which they are applied. The properties that make them suitable as sealants for a wide range of uses are their resistance to weathering and ozone, flexibility and resistance at both high and low temperatures and inertness to wide range of chemicals These are elastomeric sealants and cab be formulated to have an expansion- compression range of upto + 25% and a temperature range from-40°C to +80°c The major application areas are curtainwalls, canal linings, precast pipes, tanks, swimming pools, and dams.

These compounds include Polysulphide (+25%), Polyurethane (+25%), Silicon rubber (+100% to-50%) and Epoxy based materials (< 25%).


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