Applications for Sealants and Adhesives in the Building Wall Assembly

Posted on 1/16/2013 1:44:46 PM By Bob Braun

 caulk, firestopping, building wall assembly, building wall

In the blogs 1-18, I focused mostly on the numerous roofing applications and the technical aspects for sealants and adhesives such as, the many related associations and code groups associated with these products and their applications, test methods and specifications.  In this blog I will begin exploring the building wall.  As discussed earlier for roofing, many products offer air and/or water seals, energy savings, structural enhancements, insect control, and pollution control as a few functional examples.  This is also true for products used in the building wall.  We will examine the details of where sealants and adhesives are used, the key requisite properties, and how they can fail due to environmental effects, misapplication…etc.  

First let’s create a list of just some of the more common building wall areas where a sealant or adhesive is frequently used:

  • Sealing the sole plate to foundation
  • Sealing the bottom of a stud wall to the floor
  • Sealing laps and seams in the wall sheathing
  • Attachment of wall sheathing
  • Attachment of the weather resistant barrier (WRB)
  • Sealing seam connections in the WRB
  • Sealing utility penetrations through the wall
  • Sealing utility penetrations within the wall cavity to adjacent areas
  • Sealing window/door to wall interface connections
  • Joining and sealing components of the window and door units themselves
  • Sealing the numerous types of joints in the façade
  • Attachments of decorative façade embellishments
  • Drywall attachment

Of course the desire in wall construction is to create a monolithic structure that is composed on many assemblies, sub assemblies, and components.  One can imagine that this is not done easily and almost never perfectly.  In addition this final wall structure must manage not only air and water ingress from both sides but must control vapor transmission in a way that also maximizes the wall’s durability and enhances energy efficiency.  Wow!

Manufacturers usually test products and sometime a wall assembly.  An assembly is a section of a wall that can be of various sizes depending on the test protocol.  In future blogs we will review the existing and developing test protocols for various wall assemblies including assemblies that contain penetrations of utilities, windows, etc.  Of course a question that is always asked after a successful test is “How will the wall assembly perform after aging” and protocols are developing for this as well.  Although this is a very tricky area to design a protocol around and also usually a very expensive one but accomplishments are being made.  The Firestop sealant industry had been one of the first to lead in this area.  We will review their accomplishments in a future blog focused on Firestop through-penetration sealants.

This six minute video provides a good overview of the use and testing details for Firestopping through-penetration sealants…

In Blog #20 I will report on the events and accomplishments of the Jan 14-15 semiannual ASTM C24 Sealants Committee meeting.  In blog #21 I will continue with exploring how products are used and tested for building wall construction.


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