Facade Joint Sealing Building Envelope Article

The facade is the face of buildings. In contemporary architecture, the facade is of special interest expressed by large dimensions, unconventional shapes and high material diversity. Especially with these unique shapes and connections, joint design is demanding and prone to mistakes. For integral joint specification, following some rough guidelines will result in a long-lasting and tight building envelope.

Four Topics to Consider to Get Long-Lasting and Tight Building Envelope Joints

Joint Width

The joint width is calculated from the dimensions and thermal expansion coefficients of the facade elements and the maximum and minimum temperature your facade will be exposed to.

The maximum and minimum joint width defines which movement capability the joint sealant will need to be able to withstand the daily and seasonal cyclic thermal loads. To simplify your choice, sealants are classified according to their movement class by several standards. The most common ones are listed on the next page.

Sealing connection joints between concrete and concrete
Materials to Be Joined

Depending on the design of your facade, it may consist of facade elements of different materials like concrete, glass, metal, brick or stone, just to mention the most common. These elements have to be sealed to each other but also to other waterproofing products like membranes or structural glazing elements consisting of glass, metal frame and silicone adhesives.

The sealant must show sufficient adhesion to the materials involved in the joint and at the same time must be compatible with all materials to avoid discoloration, loss of adhesion over time or any changes of properties.

Sealing connection joints between concrete brick and plastic
Environmental Exposure

Environmental conditions have an impact on the service life and performance of the sealant. Conditions like the level of UV radiation or the chemical environment the sealant is exposed to must be considered when choosing the product.

Additionally, when sealing between the inside and outside of the building the vapor permeability of the sealant must be considered to avoid accumulation of water in the walls. The general rule is to use a sealant with lower vapor permeability on the warm side of the wall, as warm air is generally more humid than cold air.

Joint Sealing Environmental Exposure Illustration
Appearance

Ugly joints are like scars on the facade. Therefore, when specifying the joint sealant, the visual appearance of the joint must be considered. Besides the color matching to the facade elements and the toolability of the sealant, there is also staining on natural stone or streaking on glass to be considered.

Staining and streaking can damage the appearance of the whole facade and are irreversible. In this case stone and glass would have to be replaced. Hence, save money by using non-staining and non-streaking products where required.

Application of SikaHyflex® sealants to joint metal to glass

What Sika Provides to Make Sealants Last

Making mistakes specifying joint sealants eventually will lead to leakage within the building envelope with significant impact on operation and maintenance costs of your building. It is to avoid making mistakes where your building is most vulnerable.

  • Sika offers know-how and a broad range of solutions to meet all waterproofing requirements of buildings, from foundation to roof. The best waterproofing results are achieved when choosing all solutions from one hand.
  • Building envelope sealants and structural glazing adhesives are some of Sika’s core businesses with a long tradition, top global references and sound expertise.
  • Sika sealants have best-in-class handling properties. As a long standing partner of applicators worldwide, we know what they need to do for a perfect job and how to surprise their customers.

Application Examples

Application of joint sealing on walls
Joint Sealing
Joint Sealing
Joint Sealing for pavement
Christian Voellm

Author
Christian Völlm
Corporate Market Development Manager
Target Market Sealing & Bonding
Sika Services AG