Our Seal of Approval for a Healthier Workplace
As highlighted in our previous article Living in a Healthier Space with Sealants, the type of sealants used in your living environment can also adversely affect your health. Emitted as gases from manmade chemicals in the sealants, the concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can go up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors. VOCs can also be found in other sources such as building materials and furnishings, as well as office equipment e.g. copiers, printers, correction fluids, carbonless copy paper and craft materials e.g. glue, adhesives, and permanent markets. It is therefore important to limit our exposure to VOCs as much as possible - starting from the choice of sealants used in the office.
Our Top #3 Picks for the Office
DOWSIL™ F4 High Performance Mould Resistant
For its exceptional breathability and water repellency, this product is great for use in the pantry or surfaces that frequently come into contact with water.
- 4X higher resistance to growth of mould and mildew
- Extremely low VOCs (<2%), friendly product
- One part and easy to use - no mixing required
- Provides a durable and strong seal
- Where to use: sinks, toilets, glass, marble, non-oil woods and painted surfaces.
DOWSIL™ Stainless Steel
A neutral room temperature cure silicone sealant, this product quickly cures to a flexible yet tough and durable seal. Not only is it aesthetically beautiful, it also has good adhesion to stainless steel, aluminum, glass, and other building materials. It does not corrode metals.
- One part, easy to use & neutral cure
- Low modulus and high elasticity
- Low VOCs and resistant to UV temperature extremes
- Where to use: window frames, handrails, glass, metal, aluminum and decoration bar
DOWSIL™ Green Multi-Purpose
Available in white, grey and black, this environmentally friendly sealant allows precise color match with the substrates (surfaces which you apply sealants onto) in
your office - allowing you to preserve the aesthetics of your office.
- Good adhesion to a wide range of building materials
- Low VOCs
- UV resistant, excellent weatherability
- Where to use: interior and exterior sealing, cabinets, partitions and gaps in balcony
Keep an eye on this page as we share our expertise in sealants and recommend products suited for different contexts, with the environment and your health in mind.
See you in our next article!
Like all other man-made chemicals, there are potential health risks to look out for when using sealants indoors. Apart from their adhesiveness, ease of application, weather and water resistance and flexibility, the VOC content of sealants is definitely something DIYers should pay attention to on product labels.
What is VOC?
VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds and are chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. They are commonly found in products that build or maintain our homes e.g. paint, disinfectants, cleaning supplies, pesticides, air fresheners and aerosol sprays. The concentration of VOC can go up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors, hence choosing the right sealant for indoor use becomes particularly important. The lower the VOC content, the better. In some countries, there are regulations stipulating the VOC content. For example, in Hong Kong, the VOC content in sealants has to be less than 4% of its weight.
What are some potential health risks?
Some health effects associated with VOC exposure include:
- Eyes, nose and throat irritation
- Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system (with chronic exposure)
- Cancer (with chronic exposure; applies to both animals and humans)
The risk of health effects depends on the concentration of VOC in the air you breathe, as well as frequency and duration of exposure.
Ways to reduce VOC exposure
1. Climate Control
- Increase ventilation or the amount of fresh air in your home
- Conduct renovation works at home when human traffic is low
- Maintain low or comfortable temperature and humidity because chemicals emit gases at higher conditions
2. Source Control
- Buy in quantities that you will use soon and follow label instructions
- Store unused chemicals where there is lower human traffic.
- Reduce reliance on pesticides. Instead, try natural remedies such as lavender and peppermint spray to repel insects
- Check product labels before purchasing and opt for sealants with lower VOC concentrations
Here are some products we recommend:
- Ultra low VOC (29g/L) and low odor
- Wide range of sealing
- Comes in white, grey and black
- Where to use: multi-purpose, interior decoration, eco-friendly gap seal, partitions, general assembly
- High strength modulus (stable and will not deform as easily)
- Non-corrosive, odourless and durable
- Weather resistant: heat and humidity
- Where to use: bonding of mirrors and decorative glass panels, metal sheets
- Excellent adhesion
- Weather resistant
- Where to use: excellent gap fill for stainless steel, window frames and interior decoration
Stay tuned to our blog as we bring you more tips on silicone sealants and their different uses!
For home owners who are new to sealants, we hope our 101 guide to what a sealant is has helped you understand why choosing the right sealant is important.
When it comes to kitchens and bathrooms, there are additional considerations to take into account e.g. sealants to be used in the kitchen must be water and moisture resistant. So in this instance, general purpose sealants may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for you.
Why All Purpose Sealants May Not Always be the Answer
Fungicides help to reduce the formation of mould, which is a plus point if you are planning to apply the sealant on surfaces that are frequently exposed to high moisture and humidity. Sealants can also prevent damage caused by water, see page in kitchens and bathrooms.
Regular checks for growth of mould and bacteria is important to avoid bursting your budget over hefty renovation and repair costs. In this article, we bring to attention some unexpected places where the mould hides in your homes. We will also introduce some sealants that are better suited for the kitchen and bathroom.
Where the Mould Hides
Mould usually grows in areas where moisture collects. Here are some spots that often go undetected:
- Behind the fridge: condensation (source of moisture) occurs in the warm and dark space behind the fridge
- Under the fridge: a rarely noticed place where moisture and food spills may collect
- In your food blenders: excess moisture from dish-washing may create a thriving environment for mould growth
- Under the sink: a warm, moist, and dark environment ticks all the boxes for mould growth to occur and clearing these contaminants leads to more costly repairs or replacements of furniture
- Window seals: condensation from the rain provides moisture, while dirt and dust supply “food” for mould, posing a potential health hazard
- Seals of electronic appliances: e.g. washing machine where a lot of moisture is retained
- Toothbrush holders: water that drips from toothbrush into the container is a source of moisture for mould
Alternatives to the General Purpose Sealant
Here are some products we recommend:
- DOWSIL 798 Cold and Clean Room Sealant
- Product features:
- Bacteriostatic: capable of inhibiting growth of bacteria
- Chlorine resistant
- Safe for intermittent food contact
- Good adhesion to most surfaces
- Low modulus of elasticity (ISO 11600): useful for large temperature fluctuations and lightweight materials that move rapidly
- Where to use: interior or exterior sealing, food handling area. refrigerators unit, clean Room
- Product features:
- DOWSIL F4 High Performance Mould Resistant Sealant
- Product features:
- Long lasting mould resistance: 4x higher resistance to the growth of mould and mildew
- Neutral cure: visually or completely odourless
- Non-corrosive and non-yellowing
- Excellent adhesion to a broad range of materials
- Where to use: shower and sanitary, kitchen countertops with backsplash, sinks, wash basins, and gap seals
- Product features:
Why is Choosing the Right Sealant Important?
Before you dismiss it as "just a sealant", let us share the importance of choosing a good sealant for your homes.
It is important to understand the quality of the sealant that you are going to select for your intended use. After all the planning (and cost) that has gone into renovating your home or office, you certainly wouldn't want to have sealant failures that may ruin your home’s aesthetics.
Moreover, choosing a good sealant only forms a very small fraction of your total renovation cost so it is important that you and your contractors don't compromise quality to save those few dollars.
Sealant failures - what's that?
- shrinkage of the sealant bead
- starts turning yellow
- starts hardening and becomes brittle
- starts coming off the applied surface
Sealant failures eventually lead to the growth of mold, cracking, or water seepage. While sealant failures happen at most, if not all, applications, choosing the right sealant will significantly delay its onset helping you save money and the environment.
So... What's a Sealant?
- is a substance that is used to seal gaps and spaces between surfaces that are joined e.g. between the sink and the counter.
- forms a protective barrier to prevent water, air, heat, and other elements from penetrating the substrates or materials they have been applied onto i.e. the gap or space becomes air and watertight.
Sealants are not to be confused with adhesives, which are used to bind surfaces together and do not serve the same function of sealing gaps between materials. Sealants also require curing i.e. letting it dry - the temperature range and duration over which this occurs also vary.
When we delve into the different types of sealants, you will realize that there is, in fact, a wide array of options for different uses. In these 101 guides to sealants, we will focus on the highly versatile silicone sealant.
Sealant = Silicone?
As one of the most popular sealant options, the words "silicone" and "sealant" are used interchangeably today. And its popularity is not unfounded. Silicone is known to be flexible over a wide range of temperatures. This allows sealants to accommodate movement of materials or substrates to prevent cracking, splitting or tearing with age. It is also resistant to other chemicals, moisture, and weathering - making it a suitable option for basic repairs around the house.
DOWSIL™ Silicone Sealants are ideal for home use because they are room temperature vulcanizing (RTV), allowing curing to take place at room temperature. They are also fuss-free with a no-mix application and provide high adherence to a variety of substances.
This makes them less likely to form gaps in the long run, enhancing your home aesthetics. With greater UV stability and higher temperature and weather resistance compared to other organic sealants, the use of DOWSIL™ Silicone Sealants ensure weatherproofing - especially in tropical climates where there is high exposure to sunlight or heavy rainfall. Since these sealants last longer and need to be replaced less often, homeowners can reduce lifetime costs and contribute to sustainability.
The ABCs of Choosing a Sealant
Here are some simple things to consider when you choose a sealant:
- What is your intended usage? e.g. resealing the windows
- Are there any accompanying concerns? e.g. food safety, sanitation
- Is the sealant compatible to be used with the substrate? (To ensure good adhesion and performance.)
It can get a little overwhelming with all the different products out there in the market -- especially with all the technical jargons used in the packaging. But we hope this guide has provided you an introduction to some basic knowledge on sealants.
Stay tuned to our next article as we introduce water-resistant sealants that are best suited for use in your kitchen and bathrooms!