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How Long Does Silicone Actually Stay Watertight?

Updated January 31, 2020 | September 17, 2015 metal fabrication joint sealants, silicone, silicone sealant
water on metal

Waterproofing joints is an important consideration when fabricating metal projects that will be exposed to rain, submerged underwater, or assembled near water. To keep water and air out, a breathable, water-resistant sealant is used to fill gaps while still allowing for expansion and contraction. Silicone is one of the most frequently used sealants to achieve a waterproof, protective joint seal. The flexible, rubbery plastic has high heat resistance and low toxicity, making an ideal sealant choice for plumbing pipes, aquariums, ships, and other metal fabrication projects that require a watertight seal.

Silicone is a synthetic polymer made up of silicon, oxygen and hydrogen or carbon. Synthetic is the keyword here, as silicone is an inorganic substance that will not deteriorate, at least not as quickly as other sealants like polyurethane. This is especially important when keeping a metal fabrication project watertight is critical for the long term.

So how long will silicone sealant stay watertight? Typically around 20 years, depending on factors such as temperature, UV light, exposure, and chemical properties of the metal. Silicone’s high heat resistance is better suited than polyurethane for extreme temperature changes, which can cause joints to expand and contract, and silicone’s flexibility allows for movement as the joints expand and contract.

Most metal structures rely on silicone joint sealants for protection from the negative impacts of moisture and water. For the most effective watertight seal, it’s important to take the location and chemical properties of both the metal and sealant into account. When properly applied, silicone is a multipurpose adhesive and sealant that creates a waterproof, protective seal, and can last up to 20 years.

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