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What Are the Differences Between Sealants and Adhesives?

Sealant may be applied around a toilet to ensure a watertight seal.
Cyanoacrylate, also called super glue, is primarily used as an adhesive, but it also has some sealant properties.
Some adhesives are designed for industrial and construction uses, and can even bond metal and concrete.
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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2014
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A sealant is a product that is mainly used in the finishing of products or at some other stage during the production process, among other uses. Just like the name suggests, the main function and use of this product is to seal any space that exists between surfaces where they are applied in other to present a watertight or airtight area. On the other hand, the adhesive’s main purpose to bind one surface to another, not to seal the space in between the objects, it is binding. Even though an adhesive is not primarily meant for the purpose of providing an airtight area in the place where it is applied, depending on the type of material and on the size of the material, it may also serve as something of a substitute where the sealant is not available. Sealants and adhesives also differ in their basic structure, look and feel, as adhesives are more rigid and powerful than sealants, which are generally more malleable and lower in strength.

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A difference between sealants and adhesives can be found in their general uses. The sealant may be utilized in any specified capacity where the intention is to keep something in, or just the opposite — to keep something out. For instance, the product could be utilized during various construction projects, such as building, where it can be applied in various capacities to fully seal openings between surfaces that may be difficult to close in any other manner. When used in home construction, a sealant can be applied to keep out air drafts, soot or any other minute particulate matter, while an adhesive in such a situation would be for other applications that require bonding two materials to themselves in a more comprehensive manner. This preference for sealants and adhesives for different purposes shows the difference between the two materials.

Another difference between sealants and adhesives can be seen in the type of preparation that goes into the application of the two products. For instance, since the function of an adhesive requires a better adhesion to the surfaces in order for it to hold properly, some special types of preparation must be applied to the surfaces in order for them to allow the adhesive to take upon application. On the other hand, the standard required for the application of sealants is not as complicated as that for adhesives, even though some basic conditions must be met before the sealants can be applied.

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