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CONTENTS INTRODUCTION Basic Joint Types .. CRITICAL SEALANT PROPERTIES .. Classification of Sealants ..... Table A... . Medium Performance Sealants Table B ... . High Performance Sealants Forms of a Sealant . . seeeeee Movement Dictates Joint Design .. Table C ... Preformed Tapes ........ Table D ... Cellular Preformed Tapes .. Table E .... Hot - Applied Sealants Sealant Characteristics and Their Evaluation .......... Table F .... Specifications for Building Joint Sealants . . ZSeNvVoouron PRECAUTIONS .................0005 Table G ... Sealing Tapes ..... Table H ... Gunnable Sealants ....... Table! .... Standard Practices, Gaskets, Waterproofing, Back-Up Material JOINT SEALANTS INTRODUCTION Sealants represent a very small part of the wall cost, but often play a major role in its performance. In the article presented here, their critical properties are explored, and the essentials of proper usage, as dictated by their capability limits, are emphasized. All sealants are classified in Low, Medium or High Performance categories and the basic rules governing joint design are presented in graphic manner. The successful performance of any metal curtain wall depends on the design of the entire system. Joint sealant performance is dependent on the design of the joints, the proper selection of sealant materials and their proper installation. Whether they be “Working Joints,” designed to accommodate movement, or *Non-Working Joints,* secured by fasteners, some kind of seal is usually employed. The joint may be one of several types: (1) A compound which is a flowable adhesive material applied either in bulk form by means of a gun or knife, or in some preformed extruded shape; (2) A preformed, cellular compression seal with adhesive on one or two sides which is usually supplied in tape form, or; (3) A gasket, which is a dry, pre-cured shape available in a wide variety of extruded forms. In some instances these types may be used in combination, This article is concerned with sealant materials, and with the joints of aluminum curtain walls. Much information has already been published on various aspects of this subject, and it is not the intent to re-explore the fundamentals of either joint design or sealant technology here. Instead, the purpose is to re-examine, in the light of increased ‘experience and knowledge, inherent characteristics of the sealants in current use, with particular attention to their performance classification, the practical limitations of their performance capabilities, and the design principles imposed by these limitations. Attention will also be directed to critical sealant properties and methods of evaluating them, as well as to the essentials of proper field installation. This article does not address structural sealant glazing. Basic Joint Types ‘There are many shapes or configurations used as edge profiles of joining members, and some of the more common of these are illustrated in Figure 1 _ Backup MATERIAL PERIPHERY sont So BOND BREAKER Burr somrs SL Backup MATERIAL 'SURROUND" JOINT (COMBINATION? Lap JOINTS Working Joints Lt Non-Working Joints FIGURE 1 Representative Joint Type Basically, however, these reduce to three types: (1). Butt joi (2) Lap (3) A combination of these two forms, such as the “Surround” or glazing type joint. In metal curtain wall construction the combination form is, by far, the ‘most common. Butt Joints. Butt Joints usually subject the sealant to tensile and compressive stresses. The most important consideration in designing a butt joint to receive a wet sealant is the width of the joint and the sealant depth to width ratio. Joints should be designed to permit the necessary cleaning and drying of the substrates, application of a primer if required, and proper installation of the sealant itsett In most butt joints, an important consideration is a proper backing for the sealant. This is essential, both to control the depth of sealant contact with the joining parts ‘and to provide proper sealant configuration. The back-up ‘material must, of course, be compressible, compatible with the sealant, non-staining and non-contaminating to both the sealant and substrate materials. Recommended materials are closed cell polyethylene foam, polyurethane foam and neoprene or butyl rod or tubing. Back-up materials are not and should not be used as a secondary seal. Oakum or bituminous impregnated materials should never be used. The width or diameter of the back-up should be approximately 25% greater than the joint width, and compressed when inserted so that it fits tightly in the joint. it should never be inserted 80 that it fits loosely in the joint. It should never be stretched longitudinally to facilitate its installation nor should it be punctured. The sealant should not adhere to the back-up material. A release film of some type should be used, when necessary, to prevent this. (Sealant manufacturer's recommendations. should be followed.) Lap Joints. Lap Joints subject the sealant primarily to shear stresses which are less critical than tensile or compressive stresses. Lap joints generally have the advantage that the sealant is partially protected from direct exposure to the weather. However, unless the sealant can be applied before the joining parts are put together, lap joints are more difficult to seal. Preparation of substrate surfaces and application of a primer may be difficutt or virtually impossible after the joining members are in position. Due to component and installation tolerances, the joint thickness may be too small for proper sealant performance. Surround Joints. The “Surround! type of joint, used at the periphery of glass or panels, is probably the most common, and certainly one of the most critical of all joints in the curtain wall. In most cases there are far more lineal feet of such joints exposed to the weather than of any other joint type. Panel materials and constructions vary widely, however, and some of them are particularly susceptible to rela- tively large movement under temperature fluctuations and due consideration must be given to this problem. CRITICAL SEALANT PROPERTIES Sealants, like other building materials, have specific physical characteristics which determine how they will react under conditions of use. The design of systems must take into account such factors. The most critical properties of a sealant are its adhesive strength, cohesive strength, recovery ability after deformation, modulus, and durability under the effects of weathering. The importance of adhesive and cohesive strength is self-evident. Unless the sealant bonds securely and continuously to the substrates, when subjected to tensile stress, the sealant will fail. In many cases, depending on the substrate material, a primer may be required to promote the bonding action. Clearly, cohesive strength is equally important. A material which lacks the strength to, “hold itself together under repeated stress cannot provide a suitable seal. Sealants may accommodate movement by either of two mechanisms. One of these is internal flow under stress, a characteristic variously referred to as stress relaxation, creep, cold flow or plastic flow. Subjected to stress, the sealant deforms by flowing in the manner of a viscous fluid. An entirely different mechanism is the accommodation of movement by means of a rubber-like property the ability to deform under stress but, when the stress is removed, to recover. The properties of many sealant materials vary with temperature. The temperature range occurring on the surface of a building is sufficient to cause changes in the properties of some types of sealant — changes sufficient to cause failure in some cases. It is essential, too, that the basic properties of the sealant do not change significantly with age. Should such changes occur, the assumptions regarding their behavior which originally governed the joint design are no longer valid.