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Any material used to seal joints and openings. Natural waterproofing materials, such as waxes and tars have been used since ancient times. Oil-based caulk, or Putty, was composed primarily of calcium carbonate and drying oils. The first synthetic elastomeric sealant, developed in the 1950s, was composed of Polysulfide (Thiokol®). [[Butyl rubber|Butyl rubber] sealants, also manufactured in the 50s, contained Talc, Calcium carbonate, Polybutylene, Mineral spirits along with some adhesion promoters. The first acrylic sealant, developed in 1958, was a solvent curing product that included Acrylic resin, calcium carbonate, Silica, Solvent, and Plasticizer. Silicone sealants, introduced in the 1960s, contained silicone resins, Fumed silica, calcium carbonate, ground Quartz, Carbon black, talc, and plasticizers. Polyurethane elastomers provide good abrasion resistance. Latex caulks, available in the late 1960s, eliminated the use of organic solvents. They typically contain an aqueous polymer emulsion with calcium carbonate, plasticizers, and other additives.

Synonyms and Related Terms

matériau de scellement (Fr.); caulk; caulking; glazing; mastic; putty; Thiokol


  • Oil-caulks may contain lead and asbestos.
  • Early polysulfide sealants may contain PCBs.
  • Low viscosity silicone sealants can cause staining in adjacent materials.

Resources and Citations

  • Michael Scheffler, James Connolly, "Building Sealants", in Twentieth-Century Building Materials, T. Jester (ed.), McGraw-Hill: New York, 1995.
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988