Along with products specific to tasks and materials, Hembree sees a shift toward options that work for multiple materials as customers, particularly DIYers, request fail-safe products that ease the decision-making process. “The trend is driving more toward multi-purpose products that provide all the benefits necessary and take out the guesswork, and regardless of the material they’re working with they have an adhesive or sealant that will work,” he says.
An all-purpose product is often ideal for those contractors, such as remodelers or handymen, who do varying projects over the course of a day versus those specializing in one application.
Still, not all products are suitable for every task, and it’s important to pay close attention to requirements for both the adhesive and the material it’s being used with. For example, PPG’s Liquid Nails Fuze*It all-purpose construction adhesive, introduced last year, works on virtually everything, but it’s a modified silicone, which currently isn’t suitable for polyethylene and polypropylene surfaces. “So it’s important to read the label,” Hembree advises, “as an assurance that it will work for the application you need it for.”
“There are [all-purpose] products out there, but they’re not going to truly cover every single job,” cautions Scott Bowen, Vice President of Sales for Titebond.
In addition, some building materials may indicate a specific type or even brand of caulk/sealant/adhesive formulations to ensure the material performs as expected; forgoing such recommendations may result in voiding the product’s warranty.
Some new formulations work as both an adhesive and a sealant, Hembree says. Hybrid options like modified silicones can have both great adhesion and sealant properties in a single formula. They also may offer flexibility, smoothness, and ease in gunning and tooling, working in a variety of applications so that you can use the same product to adhere and then go back and seal.
Regardless of the job, several manufacturers indicate that advanced performance has been a central factor for recent introductions. “We’re focusing on new products with high-end advanced polymer technologies,” says Bowen, noting that more advanced polymers will weather better, provide better protection, and last longer.
For example, Titebond’s Weather- Master sealants are based on MS or SPUR polymer technology, a type of high-performing advanced polymer. Huttig has launched a new line of high-performance adhesives, three subfloor and two drywall, under its Huttig-Grip brand.
DAP is seeing the trend, too, in advanced sealants offering stronger adhesion to a range of materials. These include hybrids, elastomeric urethanized and siliconized acrylics, and premium silicones. “DAP leverages [hybrids] to deliver even faster and stronger bonds, which significantly reduces the amount of clamping and bracing needed on even the toughest and heaviest applications,” says Jay Misas, DAP’s Senior Product Manager for construction adhesives.
DAP’s DynaGrip line of adhesives includes DynaGrip Heavy Duty Max, a hybrid option with five times faster bond strength. DynaGrip Mirror-Marble- Granite delivers permanent vertical hold in an hour for faster, easier installation.
Advanced sealants are improving productivity too, Johnson says, with features including fast paint- and rainready times, installation in lower temperatures, easier gunning, and easier cleanup.
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With the many formulations, product types, and colors, it’s vital that dealers understand the different products they sell and can support customers as they weigh their options and select the most suitable caulk, sealant, or adhesive for each job.
“It can be a much more confusing category than it needs to be,” Hembree notes. “It can be a simple category to understand. All of us need to do the right job in keeping it as simple as we can. And a lot of us strive to do that.”
“The best thing dealers can do is offer a nice selection of products, have good signage, and then have the knowledge… to say that this is the product you want for this job,” Bowen adds.
The need is particularly pressing for DIYers. “They know what their project is; they just need a little guidance,” Hembree says.
Manufacturers offer numerous resources to help, starting with skilled reps who can provide in-person product knowledge education.
“We try to work with the dealer and help them perfect their set according to the products they carry,” explains Bowen, noting that, when in doubt, dealers and their customers should call the manufacturer for assistance. Titebond’s field reps visit locations frequently, helping to set up stock and arrange layouts, discuss product attributes and applications, and suggest items that might be missing, as well as to host contractor events and demo days.
Dealers should make use of manufacturer- provided signage and POP displays to further guide buyers. “It’s really about making it easy for the consumer to get to the right place to begin with,” Hembree says.
DAP ’s Misas notes that the industry has moved to a colored category approach on ship cases/secondary packaging in order to help guide sealant selection by project—red for kitchen and bath projects, blue for window/door/ siding, teal green for paint and trim/ all-purpose, and green for specialty projects.
“Once the customer is in the right project category, then they are able to compare like products more easily and decide what’s more important to them, whether faster dry time for a paint project, interior or exterior window trim sealing, or a bathroom sealant that is mildew resistant,” says Johnson. “The clearer we can make the category stand out, the faster the consumer can make the right selection for their project.”
Dealers also should keep up on the latest technologies and continually update their sets to include products that perform better, are easier to install, and last longer. Also, stock the products that are required for and complement your building material lines— and ensure customers are aware that they’ll need specific caulks, sealants, or adhesives along with the rest of their order.
“Selling sealants along with the project is key,” says Johnson. “Sealants are an important part of projects, which may include the installation of windows, doors, and siding. But because all sealants are not the same, retailers should stress products that are formulated specifically for the job at hand.
“When recommending adhesives,” Misas advises, “retailers should determine what users require for bond strength and versatility. DAP’s research among professionals has found that the most important factors that are considered when shopping for adhesives are bond strength and the ability to be used with a wide range of building materials.
“The biggest pitfall in the construction adhesives category is that some pros reach for the least expensive product because they are also using mechanical fasteners,” Misas continues. “In many cases, it is the adhesive that prevents failures rather than the fasteners. For example, floor squeaks and nail pops are two common failures that homeowners often experience. The cause for these issues can many times be attributed to either not enough adhesive used or using a lower-cost product with subpar bond strength.”
Also important, if you’re in a market with a large pro constituency and extensive housing projects, ensure you have cases of the most popular caulks, sealants, and adhesives. Pay attention to what clients are buying—and even ask them what they’re looking for or what their pain points are.
“When it comes down to it, most people walk in just wanting to buy the right product,” says Bowen, “and they count on the dealers to help them make the right decision.”