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BS* + Beer

The BS* + Beer Show: What About Sealants?

An expert look at a common product type

This episode of the BS* + Beer show explores the ever-evolving world of sealants—a critical yet nascent component of what we are doing today in the name of building science. Guests Sharon Libby and Bill Robinson share data and field experience, covering critical topics to help builders and designers choose the right product for the job and conditions.

As Quality Director at WALSH Construction, Sharon presents findings from the company’s “Sealant Adhesion and Compatibility Study,” which she helmed. Her presentation looks at the places sealants are used—penetrations, transitions, and terminations—their role in the continuity of control layers, approved substrates, curing times, offgassing, shrinkage, and inadvertent material contact. She briefs us on the composition of silicone, polyurethanes, and polymers, as well as lesser-known silyl terminated polyethers. The biggest takeaway? Field testing is king. Her advice? Test, test, and test some more.

For his part, Bill emphasizes the importance of reading data sheets over the marketing print on products, which he groups into five basic categories: water-based, solvent-based, polyurethanes, silicones, and hybrid. He demonstrates his preferred method for handling joint movement, and illustrates the difference between adhesion and cohesion. 

Other areas discussed include reasons for failures, temperature/humidity/moisture considerations, paintability, storage and shelf life, disposal, and toxicity concerns—as well as the real value and purpose of sealants. 

For anyone who feels overwhelmed by the vastness of sealant product choices, this discussion should help shed some light.

Enjoy the show!

Join us on Thursday, September 17, from 6 to 7:30 pm, when guests Enrico Bonilauri and Cramer Silkworth will discuss HRVs and ERVs—their differences, mechanics, and applications. As the need for healthy indoor air takes on greater importance, high-performance balanced ventilation systems are gaining traction among consumers. Enrico will talk about system designs, while Cramer will focus on installation-related information. We should all walk away with a better understanding of each type of unit, what to know when choosing between them, and perhaps some common misconceptions.

Use this link to register for The BS* + Beer Show.

Panelists’ Bios

Enrico Bonilauri is co-founder and chief product officer of EMU. A native of Cavriago, Italy, Enrico is an established expert in the international Passive construction standard. He is well respected for being able to see complicated, cutting-edge data through the lens of practical on-site implementation. He has extensive work experience in Australia, Europe, and North America, with a specialty in building envelope design and analysis. His detailed computer simulations for thermal, hygrometric and economic analyses, are informed by the thousands of hours he has spent on varied construction sites. He is the author of the Emu North American CPHT training textbook, and the lead Trainer for Emu’s CPHT courses since 2017.

Cramer Silkworth is a licensed engineer providing Passive House consulting and mechanical system design. In 2012 he founded Baukraft Engineering to provide energy efficiency consulting for residential and small-scale commercial projects in NYC and the Hudson Valley and is a PHI-trained Passive House Trainer.

The BS* + Beer Book Club

Because the hosts of the BS* + Beer Show all love to read, we thought we would celebrate the authors in our industry by adding a book club to the show every few months. We’ll announce the book, give you a few months to get it and read it, if you haven’t already, and conclude with a BS* + Beer Show episode where we will invite the author to join us, present, and take questions.

The first book we’ll read is “The New Carbon Architecture” by Bruce King. Bruce will join us on the show on September 24.

Here’s a bit from Bruce’s publisher:

A tour de force by the leaders in the field, The New Carbon Architecture will fire the imagination of architects, engineers, builders, policy makers, and everyone else captivated by the possibility of architecture to heal the climate and produce safer, healthier, and more beautiful buildings.

I hope you will join us on September 24th as well.


-You can contact Kiley Jacques at [email protected].


  1. Trevor_Lambert | | #1

    Are there transcripts of these shows somewhere?

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #3

      Trevor, no--although Taunton helps us produce and promote the show, it's a bootstrap effort and already takes as much time as we can spare. If anyone wanted to volunteer to do transcripts we would welcome the help.

  2. Granular | | #2

    I thought the sealants show was informative, but the guest from Walsh talked too much without providing much real-world info - she could have offered Walsh's preferred sealants and told us why. The second guest was much more practical, offering specific product recommendations that he preferred, which was a sorely welcome treat in the usual meally-mouthed realm of 'experts'

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #4

      You got your money's worth. Sharon presented the results from a practical study her company did; I don't know of more comprehensive, real-world testing. We asked her to be our guest specifically because we had heard about this testing. We asked Bill to join us to present his real-world experience. We could have had two guests presenting real-world experience and then we'd have complaints about no formal testing.

      You're Arthur Dent on our YouTube channel, aren't you, with a critical comment for nearly every show? You're welcome to stop watching anytime. Please.

  3. Jon_R | | #5

    Canned spray is often used for air sealing (ie, a form of sealant). How does it compare?

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #6

      Jon, this show was specifically about sealants as a product class. On our list of potential topics for the future we have air-sealing strategies, which would include spray foam.

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