Demonstrating the Increased Value of Reduced Density Sealants

Posted on 8/19/2014 11:42:48 AM By Bob Braun

In my last blog post, I discussed options enabling companies to leverage new standards for improved customer communications, and focused on some heretofore product attributes that that were historically ignored but now have been driven to greater focus due to new standards created by both industry and advocacy interests. 

In the next several posts, I will discuss the unique attributes of low and lower density sealants as these properties relate to their value propositions.  Let me start with the initial observations I made many years ago, as a formulator and R&D Manager, when I communicated with sales or marketing managers—

Lower sealant and adhesive density often will:

            A.  Increase yield

            B.  Increase area of surface coverage

            C.  Lower product and project cost

            D.  Reduce physical properties

            E.  Ease renovation and removal

Everyone in the sealant's industry is well aware of the lower density sealants and building material products that have been entering the market.  Drywall spackling is a notable example where light weight spackling has found a significant niche as a filler for smaller holes and cracks.  Why?  It's easier to apply, easier to sand, and dries very fast works!  Thus it reduces cost in several ways—lower product cost, shipping cost, and reduced labor.  Is it as strong as conventional spackling?  Certainly not, but who cares given the application?  I find this a simple and clear example of using technology to more precisely tailor a product's capability to the application.  Often products have been designed to achieve the n'th degree of as many physical properties as possible to give marketing more ammunition in positioning their product and without regard to what the end use application requires.  This n'th degree trend is still not dead by the way!  There exists an increased recognition that if one looks at the application needs, then less can become more; this creates an enhanced value proposition.

OK, so what about sealants and adhesives?  What are some examples of less being more?

Here is an example:  Recently, I commissioned a residential sun-room addition and needed to remove the drywall in a one foot wide width that had been adhered between very large windows.  The adhesive was so “good” that it took half a day to clean off the surface for new drywall.  Since the function of this type adhesive is to insure the secure attachment of the drywall but not required to add structural strength to the wall structure, a more removable adhesive would have been desirable.  The adhesive that was used for this function is not significantly different than the adhesives used for the attachment of roof tile or rigid roof insulation to residential and commercial roof decks in hurricane zones!  There are ASTM specifications (C557 and C6464) for specifying drywall adhesives, and if somehow the interior drywall is being used as a component of the wall racking strength, then this spec is likely appropriate.  In this application, screws or nails are still used at a reduced rate (along with the drywall adhesive).  Use of adhesive is designed to reduce nail use and resist forces contributing to nail push-out over time.  However, there are also applications where the entire wall assembly is required to resist racking forces, such as manufactured housing.  This suggests that new ASTM standards are needed in this adhesive area since the removal of drywall may be necessary in many circumstances and for most renovation projects.  I consider this example indicative of other value propositions for lower density product applications, which I will develop further in my next few related blog posts.

So what is really important then?  One would think it’s not anything new since the art and science of designing new products has been going on for a very long time. By going through and prioritizing the application requirements, one would think the critical needs would emerge.  This would be true if all the needs, including renovation, were considered appropriately, and the marketing push to emphasize renovation was not so low, except when the value proposition is very strong (as in the case of the low density drywall spackling).  Also, in the customer's mind the thought of un-doing what they just paid for is very unlikely and a very unattractive thought.  But renovation issues, if treated more equally, can contribute to sustainability in terms of the energy costs (in several different ways) and the potential for reuse.  And, all without negative performance in the principal product function.

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