“Wet glazing” is the term used for applying a silicone sealant around commercial windows once their seals or rubber gaskets shrink and deteriorate due to age and weathering. When most people hear the word “glaze” they think of a glossy coating or shiny surface. In the commercial building world, though, wet glazing is the process of sealing windows to prevent water intrusion.
What are Commercial Window Wet Glazing Services?
Wet glazing is designed to keep air and water out of what’s called the glazing pocket. Wet glazing surfaces typically consist of sealing glass windows to their metal window frames within a commercial window or curtain wall system with a bead of silicone sealant. This high-strength, high-performance silicone sealant is developed specifically for structural glazing applications.
Wet glazing is a fairly straightforward service that is often performed in conjunction with caulking window perimeters, glass-to-glass, or control joints on a commercial building. Sometimes the building’s facade consists of only curtain wall glass with alternating spandrel panels (triangular spaces between the top of an arch and a rectangular frame) and window glass. In these cases, there are no control joints or window perimeter joints to speak of.
When clients call us prior to our performing wet glazing services, all they know is their building’s windows are leaking. They’re not sure whether the water’s coming in from the window’s perimeter or at the glass-to-metal transition. They do tend to know the windows probably need caulking, just like for residential applications, but they’re not sure exactly which window system needs the caulking.
The truth is it’s often difficult to determine from inside the building what’s causing the water intrusion. That’s because water might enter the system in one area of the window but be visible on the interior in a different area such as below the window system and initial entry point.
Why Do Windows Need to be Wet Glazed?
When commercial windows are initially installed a rubber gasket is inserted between the glass and framing. This gasket holds the glass in place and provides a weatherproof barrier to the building’s facade. Over time these gaskets shrink and deteriorate due to UV exposure and weathering. As they shrink and lose their elasticity, they eventually fall out and generally fail to weatherproof the system.
In systems that have been significantly neglected, the glass may become slightly dislodged and, when the area is closely scrutinized, a visible gap to the outside of the building is discernible. The waterproofing industry’s solution to this problem is wet glazing services.
How Wet Glazing Services are Performed
For skilled technicians, wet glazing services are relatively easy to perform. The process typically involves cutting back the existing gasket to expose a clean, L-shaped metal-to-glass transition. The transition is wiped with a solvent to clean the area and make sure consistent adhesion of the sealant is possible. A silicone sealant is then applied and tooled with a specially designed tool that presses the sealant into the gap and ensures adhesion.
Wet glazing services are often performed at high elevations using aerial work platforms or man lifts. Safe access to the work area is always a priority.
Experts in wet glazing know that’s it’s extremely important to not caulk over any weep systems (drainage holes) in the metal window frames. If the weep holes are sealed during the wet glazing process, subsequent water events may cause funneling directly into the building instead of draining out properly.
Wet glazing services don’t typically adversely affect a building’s occupants. The work generally takes place fairly quickly on each window and the noise level is barely noticeable. When condominiums or high-rise apartment buildings require wet glazing services, work hours should be set so residents aren’t caught off-guard while getting ready for their day in the morning or for bed at night.
How Wet Glazing is Different
Wet glazing services differ from most other types of caulking services in that they don’t require what’s known as a backer rod, a flexible length of foam used as backing in joints and cracks to control the depth of the sealant while it’s being installed. A backer rod is unnecessary because of the glazing joint’s L shape which sets the depth of the sealant. Also, because cut-out is easier and the amount of silicone material used is less than with deeper joints, this type of caulking service is considerably less expensive than the caulking of other types of joints.
Wet glazing is a cost-effective way to alleviate certain water infiltration problems associated with commercial window systems and assemblies. As a barrier against outside elements, it improves a window’s ability to prevent water penetration, protects building material deterioration, and can even work to hold a window more securely in place.
Commercial Window Wet Glazing Services You Can Trust
Our decades of experience have taught us that if your windows need to be resealed, you need to hire a professional that you can trust to ensure long-lasting results. You can read about a recently completed waterproofing project that included commercial window wet glazing and many of our other projects on our portfolio page.
If you are looking for waterproofing services for your commercial building, we would love to learn more about your project.
Contact Presto Restoration for a free consultation today.
Call us at 1-800-785-9927 or Request A Quote.