Bill Sobonya, a senior brand manager with OSI, describes the company’s new line of sealants, QuadMax, with a story about a recent drive up the Oregon coast. In the course of two hours he encountered numerous extreme conditions – from rainy, cold and windswept to snowy to dry and hot. Those extremes, he said, are the conditions remodelers face each day and their new product line allows them to keep working knowing the product will still adhere and set correctly.

Another manufacturer of caulks and adhesives, Liquid Nails, newly acquired by PPG, has similar performance goals for its Extreme Heavy Duty line of adhesives which was created to allow quicker start times and longer open rates in temperatures as low as 20 Fahrenheit on up to 120 Fahrenheit, says Mark Stypczynski, a manager overseeing technical specifications for caulks and adhesives. The line of adhesives is also designed to adhere in wet conditions.

“Our product saves the contractor time at the beginning of the day,” by gunning at low temperatures, says Stypczynski. “It saves the contractor time and effort on wet and damp surfaces. You don’t have to necessarily wait for things to dry out. And also, on the high temperature end of things, you still get really good performance. So we have a little more robust chemistry in that regard.”

Robust chemistry is the operative phrase. Paint, caulk and sealant manufacturers have been working overtime in the labs of late to bring forth suites of new products designed to exceed their prior set of expected benefits.

Jeff Winter, director of wholesale marketing and residential repaint for Sherwin-Williams, says that after 150 years of creating coatings products designed to protect and provide aesthetics, the company has introduced a series of new products with benefits that go beyond those core attributes. The company’s Harmony line of paints has been shown to improve indoor air quality in rooms where it is applied. Studies have verified that the paint reduces the level of formaldehyde present and also serves to reduce odors. Whitepapers and studies have documented the effect, says Winter.

Reducing formaldehyde is significant because many building materials will out-gas formaldehyde for a period of time after they are installed, which is true for new construction and remodeling. Reducing odors helps in many situations including ones where a home once owned by a smoker is being re-habbed. Harmony reduces the smoke smell. “It is a great example of a product that doesn’t just protect and beautify, it is actually doing some other function,” says Winter.

Fiber Cement, Fiberglass, PVC

Beyond their new abilities to deal with extreme conditions, a select few of today’s caulks, sealants and adhesives are also designed to better adhere to a wider variety of enhanced building materials like fiber cement, fiberglass, MDF, PVC as well as traditional substrates like wood, wallboard, aluminum, and others.

“From a durability standpoint, when you look at the ever-evolving substrates that sealants need to bond to – and we are seeing new technology in siding and in windows – sealant not only needs to adhere to that material but also remain pliable so as to not let air and water enter the building structure,” OSI’s Sobonya explains. “You look at fiberglass windows coming into contact with different types of cladding, and the varying levels of expansion and contraction associated with those materials, that is what we’ve been able to offer with QuadMax.”

Because the different substrates have different expansion and contraction rates, the key attribute after adhesion is and expansion and contraction rate “of 50 percent joint movement and a five times stretch rate,” adds Sobonya.

Liquid Nails Stypczynski picks echos the sentiment.

“One thing we’ve been able to address is the continuing flow of new materials contractors are building with,” says Stypczynski, “for example, molding going from wood into MDF and various types of plastics like expanded PVC. We are seeing that in other areas as well, different types of panel materials. So a lot of our focus has been on making our products more reliable and easier to use on different types of substrates.”

Liquid Nails’ Ultra Quick Grip, he says, is proving to be an effective solution in tile-backsplash situations without the use of a thinset, says Stypczynski, who is quick to point out that thinset is a must on floors. “If its drywall and it is a reasonably flat surface, you can go ahead and apply without thinset, which puts a lot of people off. And it is a whole lot faster. You run a few beads of this. You stick your tile up. You come back the next day, grout it, and boom you are done.”

Tile and Ceramics

Once that backsplash tile is up, that is where Michelle Swiniarski would like to take over. Swiniarski is ceramic stone market manager for Bostik, an adhesives and sealant company, that among other things, offers a variety of thinsets, grouts and epoxies.

Bostik’s Dimension line of products is a urethane grout that comes pre-mixed in a pale. It offers contractors the ability to clean as they apply, with no dust or mixing associated with a cement product. “You just open the pale and apply the product and you clean as you go,” says Swiniarski, “which is a little bit different in that you don’t have to wait for it to set up and then clean. That speeds up the installation time.”

Bostik’s Dimensions RapidCure and TrueColor Grout is designed specifically popular glass tiles in mind. The grout contains little pieces of glass that provide a nice accent to glass tiles. And because it is a urethane based product, the binder is translucent. “So the light gets distributed through the glass tile and through the grout and it gives you an really great aesthetic for bath and kitchen remodels,” adds Swiniarski. “People like it for backsplashes and around the counters. When the light hits it, it is amazing. “Sometimes when you use a cement grout it so bold with its color that it does not complement the glass. Our product is subtle with the glass and acts as kind of a fashion grout that does not compete with surrounding color.”

Colors and “Green”

Offering a wide variety of color options in paints, caulks and sealants is now the norm. OSI matches colors from 170 different building product manufacturers says Sobonya. And the paint companies offer very exacting color-matching opportunities says Benjamin Moore’s Jeffrey Spillane, a senior manager for training implementation. And like many paint, caulk and sealant companies, Benjamin Moore offers products that are “green,” specifically they have much lower levels of volatile organic compounds or VOCs.

“The two biggest trends today are coatings that are more environmentally friendly and perfect color,” says Spillane. “Benjamin Moore offers a number of zero VOC products, including Natura, that offer great performance. Our patented Gennex colorant system enables us to produce any color in a Zero VOC formula as well.”

Liquid Nail’s Stypczynski says keeping on pace with the green movement is a goal for the company, where the ante is consistently moving higher.

“The guidelines have become a lot more rigorous. With LEED version 4 you have to do chamber testing to show that you are low emitting in order to qualify. Our new products are Greenguard certified. They are low-emitting materials, and a UL environment has certified them to the Greenguard Gold standard. Remodelers can get their points under all the green building programs. But more importantly your clients don’t have to worry about fumes or any kind of harsh chemicals.”

At the end of the day, caulks, sealants, adhesives, and grouts today are promising to do much more than ever before. They are coming to the rescue in extreme situations. They adhere better and can handle much higher ranges of joint movement. They move into unexpected benefits like improved indoor air quality, like Sherwin-Williams’ Harmony line of paints. And perhaps most importantly, many have been created to keep remodelers and contractors working more efficient and more effectively – applying and performing effectively when wet, hot, cold or bumped up against new and innovative substrates.

The key for remodelers is to pay attention to the myriad of improvements and to give new products a chance to work for you. Those who operate under the assumption that products are performing at old levels risk falling behind a missing out on ways to increase profit. QR

 

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