What is a sealant
Written by: Vinnie van Rooij
A sealant is protective product that is made up out of polymers. If they contain wax, they are considered hybrids. Sealants come in several different types and are the step between natural wax and completely synthetic protective products.
Liquid or paste form
Although most of the sealants are in liquid form (also referred to as ‘spray on sealants’) it is possible to make them in a paste form. A sealant is fairly easy to apply, and can be made to be used on several products.
A sealant can be made to be much more versatile then a wax. Most wax isn’t designed to be used on plastic trim and/or glass. But a sealant can be made to perform really well on plastic, perspex, glass and even rubber. Because a sealant is completely based upon polymer technology, there are no wax-related limitations. The grade and type of polymers that are used make the difference.
Natural vs synthetic
In the world of bodyshops the term ‘silicone’ usually scares people off. However, this is very wrong. Polymers are used in many items. When a polymer is made by mankind (synthetic) and based on siloxane, it is called a ‘silicone’. So silicones is just a collective word for synthetic polymers based on siloxanes. Polymers (both natural and synthetic) can be used to enhance performance of an article. It is used in concrete to make it stronger, dry quicker, be more chemical resistance etc. In a wax polymers are used to make it more durable, more chemical resistant, easier to apply and bond better to the surface. This is the same in sealant. Several different types of polymers/silicons can be used to enhance the performance of a sealant.
The problem with the term ‘silicones’ is due to the polymers that are used to change the surface energy of a solid or the surface energy of a liquid. When these polymers cover an area, it can be difficult to paint that surface because the silicones prevent the paint from bonding and covering the area. Small drops would appear instead of 1 solid film.
However, there are only certain polymers/silicones that cause this effect. The paint itself actually uses polymer-technology to increase its performance. So saying you don’t want to have ‘silicones’ in your bodyshops is saying like saying you don’t want liquids in your petrol tank when you actually mean to say that you don’t want water in your petrol tank.
Downside of sealants
Although sealants are loved by many detailers because they are so easy to use, they can also have downsides. A few of those downsides are listed below:
- A sealant leaves a glassy look, which is not always wanted
- Unlike a wax, a sealant will not cover up or hide surface imperfections
- A sealant can be more expensive to make, which slightly increases the price
- When a sealant dries up it can leave spots that are difficult to remove
- Some sealants require more experience then a wax
- A sealant is often less economical then wax
The advantages are:
- Usually very easy to use
- Often more durable then a wax
- Rarely requires buffing, in most cases it’s enough to wipe it off
- Superior chemical resistance to wax
- Can be made to bond with plastic trims, glass and even rubber
- It’s easier to be made into a hybrid with either wax or a coating
- No limitations that are wax-related
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