Sunday, 6 August 2017

Polymers in Construction Chemicals

Construction chemicals are the gift of modern chemistry to the civil construction and waterproofing industry. These chemicals make things that were previously thought impossible, possible. You can waterproof your roofs, construct terrace gardens, design swimming pools on the 10th floor, build retaining walls 100 feet deep, huge underground water tanks, fill gaps without using cement, all because of these chemicals and polymers.

There are a number of brands claiming market leadership in construction chemicals, but the bottom line is they all market various chemicals and additives under different names. The underlying chemicals are the same only varying in degrees of concentration, commercially termed as "solid content". Higher concentration of the active ingredient is indicated as a higher percentage of solid content.

The chemicals largely used are acrylic, latex, epoxy and polyurethane.

Acrylic is used where a UV resistant product is required. Typically acrylic is used in coatings for exterior walls and roofs. Binders used in plaster-crack-fillers are often acrylic polymers. Acrylic polymers bond well to cement and other porous substrates and have good film forming properties. Acrylic binders combined with polyester fibres create an even tougher film that is resistant to cracking with exposure to the elements. The acrylic polymer is also available as a solution that can be used as a binder along with white cement or ordinary Portland cement to create a waterproof coating that is used to coat bathroom floors before laying tiles.

Latex also know as SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber) is available as a solution. It has excellent bonding with cement and porous surfaces and is often used as a bonding agent. It is not UV resistant and needs protection, as it quickly deteriorates on exposure to sunlight. The strong point for latex is bonding. Cement with aggregates, water and latex create a superb repair mortar that has universal applications in repairs such as spalled concrete, broken and cracked plaster. Repairs with latex modified mortars, just stick! To create a bond slurry, mix cement with water and latex and bond bore packing to pipes, screed to mother slab concrete, old concrete to new concrete.

Epoxy. Sets like stone. It is what is used in MSeal and other epoxy putties. Epoxy tile grouts seal tile joints permanently. They are acid resistant, water proof and have excellent strength bond strength. Epoxy is also used as a bonding agent to join old and new concrete slabs. Epoxy is the chemical used in adhesives such as Araldite and Loctite Tough.

Polyurethane is another UV resistant polymer and is available as a single and a dual pack product. Polyurethane(PU) is highly elastic and has excellent bonding to most construction substrates. PU is used in sealants to seal construction joints and expansion joints. PU foams are used to fill, seal and insulate. PU foams are used to install door and window frames and as an insulating material in cold climates. PU foams are also used in bore packing, electrical duct insulation and sealing. PU coatings are also used to preserve wood and metal, also as an automotive finish.

Other chemicals such as polyester also find use in construction to anchor rods in concrete and as body fillers in automotive refinish.

These polymers have revolutionised the construction industry and have lead to more efficient and long lasting structures.

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