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July 5, 2011 12:10 PM CDT

Polyether-Based Sealants and Adhesives Offer Performance, Safety and Low VOCs


NovaLink is a moisture curing, polyether sealant designed for application in damp, dry or cold climates.

NovaLink is a moisture curing, polyether sealant designed for application in damp, dry or cold climates.
Polyether-based sealants and adhesives, the advanced formulation polymers that have overtaken urethane and silicone products in Japan and Europe, are now becoming the new standard among some U.S. architects and contractors for use throughout the entire building envelope from foundation to roof.

Since being designated by the Adhesive Sealant Council as a unique product category last year, the use of polyether-based sealants has nearly doubled for both new construction and repair work. The driving forces behind this increased popularity are the superior performance and environmental compliance characteristics of polyether based sealants and adhesives, compared with many urethane- and silicone-type products.

Another important factor: Because these advanced sealants and adhesives contain no solvents, they produce few Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). This is not only an environmental benefit, but also it makes polyether-based products compliant with increasingly stringent local and state VOC regulations.

VOCs are substances that evaporate into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change, chronic respiratory disorders and cancer. Many sealants that produce VOCs are also flammable, produce irritating odors and tend to degrade over time.

Rewriting the Book

Once a polyether-based sealant or adhesive is applied, it reacts with moisture in the air and cross-links to form a tough, long lasting, flexible chain. It cures rapidly, adheres to a wide range of materials, meets the toughest standards for joint movement, won’t shrink and won’t suntan.

Chem Link Advanced Architectural Products in Schoolcraft, Mich., has developed and popularized the use of polyether compounds throughout the United States, and the developed of a variety of products that address assorted adhesive and sealant requirements throughout the building envelope.

No More Shrinkage

Polyether-based adhesives and sealants are cured by water it draws from the air, so there are no solvents to evaporate and cause shrinkage. Because these products cure from the top down and the bottom up, they are watertight and fairly durable within 10-20 minutes, though they typically take two to three weeks to completely cure when, as Graham notes, they become hard as a hockey puck but remain “remarkably” flexible.

The Power of Green

Although the polyether adhesives and sealants were initially popular because of superior performance properties, its no-solvent chemistry has added to sales more recently. In using these products, contractors don’t have to worry about confined spaces, flammability or that they will contaminate some other material.

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Originally published in Masonry magazine.

About the Author

Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at


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