Let’s take a deeper look at the advantages and disadvantages of silicone caulking and when it’s your best sealant choice. We have previously talked about why polyurethane caulking services are often the best choice for protecting your commercial building against air and water intrusion. But some applications call for silicone caulking, particularly where flexibility is a concern.
Differences Between Silicone and Polyurethane Caulking
Silicone and urethane sealants both fall into the category of elastomeric coatings and are used to fill gaps to keep water and air out. They also both allow for expansion and contraction. Yet, despite these similarities, the sealants have significant differences.
- Chemical makeup. Unlike organic urethane products, silicone is an inorganic material, so over time, it breaks down and reacts differently than urethane does. That means, when subjected to the sun’s UV rays, silicone is less reactive than urethane, which over time reverts to its natural state, changes properties, and becomes ineffective at sealing.
- Lifespan. As you might have guessed, the chemical differences affect each sealant’s lifespan, too. Depending on how much sunlight and temperature fluctuations they’re subjected to, polyurethane sealants generally last five to ten years. Silicone, on the other hand, typically lasts about 20 years, which is why you’ll see many manufacturers offering 20-year warranties on their products.
- Cost. While silicone sealants last about twice as long as polyurethane ones, they also typically cost about twice as much. But initial outlay isn’t the only thing to consider when calculating true cost. Labor costs are also an important factor. Both sealants take about the same amount of time to apply, but you’ll generally need to install urethane sealants twice as often as silicone products. In the end, that means you pay twice as much in labor costs for polyurethane as you do for silicone sealants.
Best Times to Use Silicone Caulking
There are advantages and disadvantages to using silicone caulking when waterproofing your building and parking structure. It’s true silicone sealants tend to last longer, and they definitely can handle a lot of movement. On the downside, they have a strong odor, you can’t paint them like you can urethane products, and they’re slower to cure, which means they can become contaminated with dust and other debris. Yet, they also have excellent resistance to staining once cured.
Silicone sealants are best used in building applications like expansion and control joints where you need strong performance characteristics such as:
- UV resistance
- Temperature resistance
- High movement capability
- Longer service life
- Long-lasting continuous flexibility over time
Presto Restoration uses two different two Dow Corning sealants for our silicone caulking services.
- DOWSIL™ 790 delivers outstanding unprimed adhesion to masonry. Suitable for new and remedial construction, it’s a great choice for building joints that experience extreme movement and is extremely effective in sealing expansion and control joints, precast concrete panel joints, and more.
- DOWSIL™ 795 comes in a range of colors to match or complement any building’s appearance. It’s a highly resistant silicone sealant that excellently weatherproofs glass, steel, aluminum, concrete, painted metal, EIFs, granite, and other stone.
Both DOWSIL sealants meet all federal and ASTM specifications.
One final note. If urethane sealant has already been used on your building but you want to transition to silicone, the existing polyurethane material must be removed entirely. If any of it remains, the new silicone sealant you apply can deteriorate more quickly than expected, destroying the seal. And as a rule, you’ll end up paying more to replace failed sealant than you will if it’s installed effectively in the first place. So be sure to work with a building restoration company that can get the job done right.
Benefits of Professional Silicone Caulking Services
For the best return on your sealant investment, the work should be performed by experts who have the experience and expertise it takes to simplify the process and eliminate any guesswork. Working with a professional contractor like Presto Restoration ensures you get a team of skilled technicians who:
- Know how to prep.
- Know what caulking to use.
- Know how to apply the caulking properly.
- Know how to properly clean up after.
- Can ensure everything that needs to be sealed is sealed.
Sealants are sometimes overlooked in the regular maintenance of commercial structures, but they are critical to protecting your building’s integrity. With nearly 30 years of experience in the industry, Presto provides expert advice and solutions for all your commercial sealing needs, including silicone caulking services. We’ve provided commercial caulking services on countless properties nationwide and are ready to tackle even the most complex waterproofing jobs. Ready to schedule your commercial caulking services? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote.