Polyurethane & Silicone vs Polymer: Why Choose Polymer?
Silicone and polyurethane based products have long been the go-to choice for sealing, as they can be used on most substrates and work effectively in a variety of conditions. They come in handy for filling joints and ensuring a water tight seal, and they provide a neat and tidy finishing touch to any construction project. For these reasons, tradies have become set in their ways and all too often turn to silicone over safer and superior alternatives, such as polymer adhesives and sealants. In this blog post, we will be highlighting the major benefits of polymer and why it is well worth your consideration.
Improved Safety, Better Health Outcomes for Tradies
Many people do not realise that some types of silicone contain isocyanate, a harmful substance which can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat and contribute to the development of asthma. It has also been linked to cases of chemical bronchitis, gastrointestinal irritation and pneumonitis. The same is true for polyurethanes, and it goes without saying that these issues are not to be taken lightly. Tradespeople and handymen will be dealing with these substances daily, and continued use can result in negative health outcomes as well as serious breach of OH&S regulations.
Forward thinking businesses that place employee and contractor safety first have begun to embrace a shift towards the use of polymer-based silicones, sealants and adhesives. These products are entirely solvent-free and do not contain isocyanate, making them a safer alternative that protects the health of workers as well as the natural environment.
Improved Cohesion Strength Across all Substrates
Silicone has always been seen as a multipurpose adhesive that could be used for just about anything, but there are a few surfaces which it has trouble adhering to. In addition to this, silicone is not as strong or durable as polymer based products. Polymer has a much greater cohesion strength, with tests showing that it can stretch up to 350% at the break point, whilst silicone only managed about 280%. Polymer can also be used on a wider variety of surfaces including polycoated steel, rigid/flexible EPDM/PVC, composite, GRP and many more.
The major benefit of polymer can be observed in applications where substrates are constantly expanding or contracting. Due to the extra strength, it can cope far better than silicone with expansion, thus making it a smarter choice of product if long term durability is required. Many polymer adhesives also work as a sealant, preventing water and dirt from penetrating the surface.
Polymer is much harder than silicone, with tests revealing that Formoa 010 Colours has a shore A rating of between 40-45 depending upon the conditions. Tremsil 890 (silicone-based adhesive) only received a score of 24, making polymer almost two times as hard. This makes polymer the optimal choice for varied climates subject to extreme cold/heat or high external forces.
Superior Finish, Endless Colour Options, Easy to Work With
One of the most common complaints with silicone is the drying time, which can result in a less than impressive finish due to airborne particles or acts of vandalism. Bubbles are another issue, and silicone is only able to be painted over with enamel based paints. It can be very difficult to find pre coloured silicone in your desired shade, which means designers and architects need to make compromises in their projects. On the other hand, polymer has an expansive catalogue of colour options, and it is even possible to produce custom colours in many cases.
Polymer still has to undergo a curing process, but unlike silicon it does not bubble or attract/catch airborne particles and dirt. The end result is beautifully smooth, and it can be painted over with a water-based paint or any other type of paint.
There are a wide variety of polymer products on the market, but not all offer UV resistance. Damage from UV rays can significantly shorten the lifespan of the product due to cracking, discolouration and disintegration. In applications where UV resistance is necessary, carbon black can be added to the polymer to assist with blocking of UV radiation. Titanium dioxide is another effective barrier against UV, along with various other elements which serve as UV blockers, absorbers and stabilizers. You can also choose PTFE or PVDF polymers, which are fluorinated and thus provide excellent UV resistance without needing to be modified. The customisation options make polymer a cost effective and practical choice for any project, particularly when long term durability is desired.
Polymer – The Smart Choice
At Sydney Building Defects & Inspections, we’ve seen it all. Sealants are designed to protect against the ingress of air, moisture and dirt and it is important to choose a product that will last the distance. Silicone and polyurethane sealants still have their place and might be acceptable for a quick fix, but for most applications we would suggest the use of polymer. This innovative new product addresses all the major issues with silicon and polyurethane sealants and adhesives. In summary, polymer is:
- Highly durable – harder than silicone, capable of withstanding high external forces and extreme climatic conditions
- Easily Customisable – choose from extensive colour range or simply paint over with your choice of paint, including water-based paints
- Safe – no isocyanate, does not irritate skin or cause occupational health issues. It is also environmentally friendly.
- Aesthetically Appealing – cures smooth, does not bubble or attract dirt
- Superior Cohesion – adheres to many different substrates, more resistant against expansion/contraction
- UV Resistance – Polymer can have various blockers, absorbers and stabilisers added to improve UV resistance, making it ideal for long-term use outdoors and in sunny environments.
Contact Sydney Building Defects Today – The Building Inspection Specialists
If you have any further questions about polymer that you would like answered, or if you would like us to carry out a comprehensive building inspection for you, please contact us today on 0419 416 040.