Silicone v Hybrid Polymer
“What mastic sealant should we use, silicone v hybrid polymer?” As a supplier, we’re asked this on a daily basis and the truth is, it’s a subjective question, it’s literally become a straight up choice of one or the other these days. As with any specialist trade, manufacturers at every level continuously research and develop technologies for their materials to better suit the current and future marketplace, always guided by raw material costs but also, more recently, with a heavy focus on the ecological impact the finished products have on the environment.
A variety of sealant materials
Traditional mastic joint sealants, (we shall stick to the one-part cartridge types for this explanation) are formulated from several different base materials, the most common being Acrylic, Polysulfide (aka Polysulphide), Oil, Polyurethane, Butyl, Epoxy and of course the most widely used of all being Silicone. Whilst most of these substances have been used successfully for decades and are still available today, a new, advanced type of mastic joint sealant which also tends to exhibit excellent adhesive properties, has grown in popularity to rival the industry standards. Known collectively as Hybrid Polymers but technically named Silane Modified Polymers (SMP), these modern sealants & adhesives have other categorisations such as Modified Silane (MS), Modified Polymer (MP) Silyl Modified Polymers and some other tags. Below we’ll break down the argument of pros & cons for Silicone v Hybrid Polymer and explain the differences.
Used the world over for it’s excellent elasticity, toolabilty (workability) and cost-effectiveness, silicone sealant has stood the test of time for both internal and external gap and joint sealing. With vast colour ranges available, high modulus, anti-mould silicone sealants are still the professional’s number 1 choice for use internally in bathrooms, kitchens, around windows, fittings and fixtures as well as all other sanitary applications. Whilst low modulus silicone sealants are the go to choice for external surfaces such as expansion joints in brickwork, around frames, cladding and connections between most common building materials.
Neutral curing & non-staining sealants
As well as the standard low modulus and high modulus silicones, there’s also a huge market now for ‘neutral cure’ silicone sealants that are often 100% pure silicone without plasticisers and solvent fillers, these types of silicones rely solely on air (instead of chemical additives) to cure them to their rubberised silicone consistency, typical examples of applications where neutral cure silicones are used would be laminated glazing and natural stone with the advantage being that there’s no oils in the product that can potentially leak or leech into the surface causing unsightly staining. We see examples of the aftermath of this problem constantly on kitchen worktops and splash backs designed from granite, marble and the like due to many tradespeople being uneducated to the pitfalls of standard silicone curing systems.
Here to stay
All change is met with resistance, it’s human nature to opt for the method or system you’ve been taught or simply always used, wether it be a perfect solution or just a make do, as they say “if it aint broke don’t fix it!” This is definitely true of silicone use for sealing and some types of bonding, so, silicone sealants are still produced in gigantic quantities at this time and it doesn’t look like another material will be a direct replacement for the countless uses and benefits this age-old sealing compound has, for the foreseeable future.
Popular silicone sealant products
- 3C HM Silicone Sealant click here to buy online
- Dowsil C60 Silicone Sealant click here to buy online
- Everbuild Tecnic 825 Sealant click here to buy online
- Dowsil 785 Sanitary Sealant click here to buy online
- Parasilico AM-85-1 RAL Sealant click here to buy online
- Ottoseal S70 Natural Stone Sealant click here to buy online
- Mapesil AC Mould Resistant Sealant click here to buy online
- Illbruck FA880 Premium Matt Finish Sealant click here to buy online
- 3C Firestop Silicone Sealant click here to buy online
- Sikasil SG20 Structural Sealant click here to buy online
Hybrid polymer sealants (Silane modified polymers)
From gluing and bonding, filling and fixing to sealing, bedding and waterproofing, hybrid polymers have become a popular choice to use as an all in one, snagging solution for many tradespeople, for a multitude of tasks, in fact, it’s fair to say that some of these products are true allrounders for both the DIY and professional building trade! Manufactured using cutting edge technology, hybrid polymer materials such as modified silane (MS), modified polymer (MP) Silane Modified Polymer, Tripolymer & Tribrid® polymer.
The sealant science
Wikipedia says: Silyl Modified Polymers (SMP, also silane-modified polymers, modified-silane polymers, silane terminated polymers, etc.) are polymers (large, chained molecules) terminating with a silyl group. SMPs are the main components in solvent-free and isocyanate-free sealant and adhesive products. Typically the sealant products manufactured with silyl modified polymers have good adhesion on a wide range of substrate materials, and have good temperature and UV resistance.
The world’s biggest manufacturer of industrial and commercial raw sealant base materials, Wacker Chemie have some excellent explanatory videos on youtube regarding Silane Modified Polymers – click here to see. One of Europe’s biggest distributors of sealants, adhesives & tapes, Tremco Illbruck have written an interesting piece on the subject, (click here to read) they, themselves have several, excellent hybrid products in their range which we stock many of ourselves.
High bond strength
Good quality modified polymers bond to almost any material used in the construction industry, such as aluminium, galvanized and stainless steel, zinc, copper, natural stone, treated wood, glass, brickwork, concrete and many more. It’s tolerant of very damp substrates and some even contain an anti-mould fungicide making these products ideal for use as an all-round adhesive & sealant for sanitary fittings, fixtures and joint applications where high humidity is expected, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Bonafide alternative for many trades
Although silicones are the mastic man, glazing installer and many other tradesperson’s ‘go to’ sealant, using a modified or hybrid polymer product as either an adhesive or as a mastic joint sealant has become a bonafide alternative to traditional silicone and one which will continue to grow in the future due to the versatility and benefits of this technology.
Popular hybrid polymer products
- 3C Multi-Use Sealant & Adhesive click here to buy online
- Everbuild Stixall Power Adhesive click here to buy online
- Hodgson Hy-Spec 25 Hybrid Sealant click here to buy online
- Ottocoll M500 Sealant & Adhesive click here to buy online
- Illbruck SP540 Hybrid Floor Sealant click here to buy online
- Geocel 201 Polysuphide Alternative click here to buy online
- CT1 Sealant & Adhesive All-In-One click here to buy online
- BT1 Tribrid® Bathroom Sealant & Adhesive click here to buy online
- Arbomeric MP10 LM Modifed Polymer click here to buy online
- Geocel 945 MS Floor Sealant click here to buy on line
To summarise, there’s no clear cut answer to wether one is better than the other, or which you should use, it seems that it’s very much up to the user and obvious to see that there’s a market for both the materials and so,,,,
Silicone v Hybrid Polymer is a battle that will rage on for now.