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The Dos and Don'ts of Working with Silicone Adhesives and Sealants

The Dos and Don'ts of Working with Silicone Adhesives and Sealants

If you have ever worked in an industrial setting, you have probably come across silicone adhesives and sealants. Silicone adhesive sealant is versatile, but, unlike other adhesives, it must cure. Curing means letting it dry, and, although it is not necessarily a difficult process, it takes patience. Silicone adhesives can take as little as 24 hours to cure, but it may also take up to several days if the sealant is thick. Here are a few tips and tricks to ensure you make full use of silicone adhesives and sealants.

caulking gun

Dos of Using Silicone Adhesives and Sealants

  • Use sufficient protection.

Some of the most common injuries people experience when using silicone adhesives and sealants are an electrical shock, skin burns, and eye injuries. Having sufficient protection can help prevent these injuries. Always wear safety goggles to protect against eye injuries, and wear surgical masks over your mouth and nose if you are using a type of glue that gives off fumes.

Gloves can also be worn to protect against burns, but do keep in mind that rubber gloves can melt, and this can lead to an even more grave injury if they get in contact with the hot glue. Gloves made from canvas and leather are better options. Long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toe shoes are also advisable.

  • Use a primer whenever possible.

Primers are valuable because they help sealants adhere to your chosen surface. Primers may have a short shelf life, but they help improve adhesion by 20%. There are a few solvent-based primers that can be applied by brush or by cloth.

  • Consider the sealant’s shelf life.

The majority of sealants sold today cure at the rate of 2-3mm per 24 hours, and this is exactly why they will not last forever in the tube. They have an especially short shelf life if in hot and humid conditions. Keeping them in the refrigerator will help extend their days, and keeping nozzles always attached will also help them cure slowly. Obviously, refrain from opening the tubes until you are ready to use them.

construction worker caulking

  • Prep your workspace.

Keep in mind that other people, and even pets, may come in contact with your workspace while you are working, so make sure your glue gun is safely away from children and animals. Choose a work area that is near a power source so you won't need an extension cord. All surfaces in your workspace should be covered with or made of non-flammable material. Ceramic tiles are a good option. Clear away any loose papers and materials that can catch fire.

An Easy Way to Remove Sealant

Manufacturers always get queries from people asking if there is any miracle substance that can help remove sealant. Well, the answer to this is a resounding "No." the only way you will be able to remove sealant is through mechanical methods, such as a cheese wire or sharp knife, or by abrading it with a sander.

Don'ts of Using Silicone Adhesives and Sealants

  • Not choosing the right adhesive

Before you purchase silicone adhesive or sealant for your project, you must check the materials you are working with. There are adhesives made especially for certain materials.  

  • Not checking the expiration date

Before purchasing silicone adhesives and sealants, make sure it is not out of date. This is a small detail that is easily overlooked. Silicone sealant undergoes changes if it is past its shelf life. Tubes that are out of date take a longer time to dry and are no longer potent.

  • Not cleaning the surface

If there is any grime, oil, grease, or other residues on the surfaces which you are working with, you will have a difficult time forming a solid and good bond. Make sure you clean surfaces thoroughly and let them dry before proceeding with your work.

  • Not following instructions

There are various types of sealants and adhesives, and they come with slightly different instructions for how they are to be used, particularly in terms of how long it takes for the sealant to dry. There are very strong adhesives which might need to be mixed with other substances before use. Therefore, always read the instructions and follow them to the letter.

  • Not using pressure

Gluing two pieces of metal together is different from using glue with paper and waiting for it to dry on its own. Pressure has to be applied to ensure the bond formed is as strong as possible. A vise or clamp can hold the pieces together with a firm pressure so that the adhesive can bond to the metal surfaces which have been prepared prior. Wait as long as possible before removing the clamp, and allow the adhesive ample time to dry. Do not hasten the process, Otherwise, you will have problems.