Sealants are a bit of a step up from screwdrivers, spanners, and hammers for the do-it-yourself crowd, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find out more about them and learn how to use them with ease and confidence.
Essentially, sealant fills a gap between two surfaces. It hardens and forms a physical barrier by adhering to those surfaces. The concept has been used from ancient times when a crude mixture of wattle and daub was used right through to modern times. You can find a sealant for just about every material and do every job, but here, we will take a look at silicone sealant.
What is silicone sealant?
Silicone sealant is a remarkable form of liquid adhesive because, at high temperatures, it keeps its elasticity and stability, making it ideal for environments that experience high heat levels.
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It is resistant to chemicals, humidity, and erosion, which means that it can be used on all sorts of materials in all sorts of industries. The versatile properties of silicone make it suitable for applications such as sealing the border of baths, showers and sinks, caulking doors and even sealing vehicle engines. It is also easy to clean and leaves a professional finish to every project.
What type of silicone sealant to use?
All silicone sealants have the same adhesive properties, but some are designed to support specific applications.
A universal, multi-purpose silicone sealant is convenient to keep in and can be applied easily when and if necessary. It can also be used on all sorts of household surfaces, such as aluminium, glass, ceramic, wood, plastic, and metal.
If you are using it in an environment exposed to continual levels of high moisture, you may want to consider mould-resistant silicone sealant. This prevents it from blackening over time. It is also important to take into consideration that some silicone sealants can be painted over, but others can’t.
Steps to applying silicone sealant
Silicone sealant can be purchased in cartridges and tubes.
- To begin with, slot your cartridge or tube of silicone into the gun. Adust the trigger tightness so that it is attuned to the size of the tube, then squeeze it lightly and slowly until the mechanism is touching the tube, before securing it into position. Now, you are ready to go.
- Prepare the contact area by removing any dirt, grime, or debris that may interact with and weaken the sealant. To clean it, use a wet sponge, which has been doused in soapy water. Dry the surface thoroughly with a towel, as a damp surface can affect the efficiency of the sealant due to its waterproof properties.
- At a 45 degree angle, pierce a hole at the top of the silicone sealant tube with scissors or a utility knife as close to the tip as possible. Use a piece of scrap material to test out whether you need to make the hole bigger. Once you are happy with the result, slowly and evenly begin to apply the silicone to the intended surface.
- To get the perfect finish on your sealant application, you need to find the right speed to work out. If you apply it too slowly, you may find you are left with a rough finish and use more of the product than necessary. Move too fast, and you risk not filling the gaps correctly.
- When you reach the end of the seam, let go of the handle and press the lever at the back of the sealant gun. This releases the pressure and stops the sealant flow straight away. If you fail to do this, the sealant will keep flowing out of the nozzle.
- Wet your finger and use it to level out the sealant every time you apply it. It is essential that you use a damp finger to do this; otherwise, the silicone sealant will stick.
Silicone sealant will usually appear wet even when it has dried. For it to fully cure, it takes around twenty-four hours, but this is entirely dependent on environmental factors such as humidity and temperature. To dry properly, it is recommended that the temperature is between 40°F and 100°F, with between 5% and 95% humidity.
If it needs to be dried faster, you can use a heat lamp, a fan, or even a hairdryer to aerate the adhesive.
Use soapy water to remove any remaining traces of the silicone sealant. Once it has dried, you can remove it with a hard sponge and knife. You can also purchase spatulas and specially designed cleaners to remove dried silicone sealant.