Types of Polymers Used in Construction

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Whether you’ve worked in the construction world for quite some time, or if you’re just getting started in the industry, you know firsthand just how much of an impact the materials you use have on your final results.

You need ones that are durable, flexible, lightweight, and within your clients’ budgets.

Polymers make all that — and much more — possible.

Read on to learn more about some of the most commonly used types of polymers within the construction industry.

You might be surprised by how familiar some of them are to you already.

What Is a Polymer?

Before we get into anything else, let’s make sure you understand the true definition of polymers.

Polymers are created when numerous units made of the same substances are combined and then bonded together to create a molecular structure. It helps to think of them as long chains of thousands of molecules, all of which have the same chemical makeup.

We know that this sounds a bit complicated, but the reality is that you’ve encounter more polymer materials than you might think.

Plastics, adhesives, foams, and even sealants and paints are all classified as polymers.

To understand the use of polymers in construction, you need to think about the advantages that specific types of polymer materials have to offer. For example, let’s say you need to seal a window unit to prevent wind and rain from sneaking through the cracks.

A polymer sealant provides that extra layer of protection, making it next to impossible for the elements to get inside the building.

Polymers are both strong and flexible, two characteristics that are highly prized in construction materials. For example, polymers are often used to reinforce fiberglass, to make pipe, and even mixed in with cement to help prevent cracks.

Many types of polymers are also known for their waterproof properties and their ability to stand up to the elements in general. This, unsurprisingly, is one of the biggest reasons why they’re so often used within the construction industry.

Polymers also contain excellent adhesive properties, are usually scratch-resistant, and are lightweight.

Most synthetic and natural polymers also work quite well as insulation materials. That’s because they’re usually not able to conduct higher amounts of heat, and they’re also extremely poor electrical conductors.

So, which kinds of polymers are often used in construction?

Read on to find out.

Common Types of Polymers in Construction

Whether you’re paving a road, building a home, or even doing basic plumbing installation and repairs, if you’re in the construction industry, you’ll use polymers practically daily.

Let’s examine the most common types of polymers you’re likely to encounter now.

We’ll also take a look at the potential advantages and disadvantages of each one.

EPS Foam Coating
Foam is certainly one of the most common polymers, and it’s especially popular in the construction world as an insulation material.

Hard foam sprays are often used instead of fiberglass, and they can help to smooth out foam surfaces and provide serious impact resistance. Foam coatings also help to waterproof construction materials and are especially popular in the creation of signs.

It can also be used to coat concrete molds, which comes in handy when building a home’s exterior.

Epoxy
There are two kinds of epoxy polymers used in construction: 100% solids and water dispersions.

Solid epoxies are resins that are capable of bonding to damp or wet surfaces. They’re also resistant to the effects of harsh chemicals and are able to hold their shape without shrinking.

However, they take quite a while to cure and can yellow with age.

Water dispersion epoxies are a good alternative for those who want a more eco-friendly approach and a faster cleanup process after use.

However, they don’t offer as much resistance to chemicals as solid epoxies do.

Polyurethane
Polyurethane is another popular construction polymer, especially celebrated for its durability and flexibility. It’s also resistant to scratches, dents, and other abrasions.

However, it doesn’t have as much adhesion as other kinds of polymers on this list. It may also yellow with age.

Polyester
Polyester isn’t just used in clothing, rugs, and other fabric-based items we use every day. It’s also used to make balloons and plastic water bottles.

When used as a construction polymer resin, it helps with electrical insulation. It also plays a role in creating high-tension and strong ropes and wires for making bridges and power belts.

Silicone Resins
If you’re looking for a sealant that lasts for an incredibly long time while still keeping its color, go for silicone resins. These resins also don’t harden with age.

However, they’re a bit more expensive than the other types of polymers on this list. They’re also a little more labor-intensive, as they usually require a primer.

Which of These Types of Polymers Do You Use?

In reading through this list of the most popular types of polymers in the construction industry, you may realize that you use many of them already.

The truth is that polymers play a huge role in not just the construction industry, but also in many aspects of manufacturing. The building you’re sitting in, the clothes you’re wearing, and even the computer or phone you’re reading this on all contain polymers.

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