Silicone price has rocketed; what’s going on?

If you have recently looked into purchasing some silicone sealant, you will probably have noticed how the prices have skyrocketed. Some silicone sealant prices have even increased by 60%! 

So you’ll be wanting to know what is going on, and what you can do about it. That’s where we come in. Here at Forgeway, we have witnessed the price of silicone shooting through the roof in recent months. 

And as adhesive specialists, we are aware of why this is happening. By the end of this article, you will know the reason why the price of silicone has increased. You will also have a good idea of what you can do about it too.

You will no longer need to be so concerned when you take a look at silicone’s bigger price tag.

Why does silicone sealant cost so much nowadays?

The very simple reason behind silicone’s rapid increase in price is due to supply chain issues. Granted, these supply issues are grappling most industries at present, but the adhesive and sealant industry are especially feeling the effects. Some of the raw materials that make up silicone are in very short supply.

But is it likely to change, and why are they in short supply?

No, it isn’t likely to change anytime soon. The explanations around why it is happening and why it won’t change are very similar. We will explain.

Silica is one of the main raw materials that make up silicone. However, in order to get silica, you first need silica metal. Around 90% of the world’s silica metal supply comes from China.

Supply chain issues are affecting silicone prices

China has recently (over the last six months) been cutting its energy supplies to certain industries, including to companies like those that produce silica metal. Silica metal requires a significant amount of energy to create. So, as a result of this, the supply of silica metal has massively reduced.

And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of a solution to these energy issues either. This, in turn, means there won’t be any increases in silica metal supply in the coming months.

What can you do about the rising silicone sealant prices?

Now you know the reason behind silicone’s price increase, you’re going to want to know what you can do about it.

First things first, you need to determine the reason behind your choice to use silicone. There could be a couple of reasons, and we will list them below:

  • You chose silicone because you want a high-quality sealant that is easy to use
  • You chose silicone because you want a cheap sealant that does the job effectively
  • You chose silicone because how else are you going to seal and plug the gaps and cracks in your structure

If the first option sounds like you, then we suggest you continue to use silicone but just be prepared to pay a little (or a lot) more.

However, if you are in a similar position to the last two points, we would suggest you look for an alternative sealant to silicone. 

Applying sealant to a bus

Don’t worry! There are a few alternative sealants to silicone. In fact, most adhesives have sealant properties, and flexible adhesives (like polyurethanes) will provide even better sealant properties.

Although in our opinion, the best alternative to silicone sealants is MS polymer sealant.

What are the benefits of using an MS polymer sealant as a silicone alternative?

There are several added benefits that MS polymer sealants provide. These benefits could be factors that you hadn’t considered when choosing a sealant.

MS polymer sealant can replace silicone

The benefits of using an MS polymer sealant are:

  • They do not stain the substrate. Anyone who has used silicone before will know that they are prone to staining. The oils in the silicone tend to leach over time causing those stains. MS polymers do not leach these oils and therefore will not cause stains.
  • MS polymers are much stronger. Not many people would use silicones for structural purposes and we certainly wouldn’t class silicones as structural. And whilst a sealant doesn’t necessarily need any strength, you may want something that can hold your substrates in place with a bit more strength. MS polymers will provide greater strength than silicones.
  • They don’t smell. There are two types of silicone, acid cure and neutral cure. The acid cure is the most common type as it is cheaper, but it does have a very distinct smell. The neutral cure is the higher-end, more expensive type of silicone, and it doesn’t smell so much. MS polymers do not have any odour at all though.
  • You can easily colour-match and paint over MS polymers. It is common knowledge that you cannot paint over silicones. Whilst you can also colour match silicones (which is even more expensive), it is sometimes still necessary to paint over a sealant. And you can do that with most MS polymer sealants.
  • They have a similar price. Silicones always used to be the cheap and cheerful sealant. Of course, you can still get cheap silicones, you can even get cheap MS polymers too. But, a quality product is going to cost more. A high-quality MS polymer and a high-quality silicone will have very similar costs (around £10-£15 for a 400ml cartridge).

So, in summary, these are the factors that you may not have considered about using silicone as a sealant. It may just be that you hadn’t realised MS polymer is a viable option as a sealant.

Why you might want to just pay more to continue using silicone

You may have read the above section and thought to yourself “why aren’t more people using MS polymers instead of silicone?” And there is a very simple reason why. Silicones have become the proprietary eponym (aka generic trademark or household name) for sealants. When people suggest using silicone, they likely mean ‘sealant’ rather than silicone in particular. 

So most people would shy away from using a product that doesn’t have the ‘silicone’ name because they know that silicone is an effective sealant. However, as we have described, MS polymer sealants are just as good.

But there are a few other reasons why some just want to use silicone instead of other types of sealant. The list below describes them:

  • Silicones are easy to use. Whilst you can get cheaper options of both silicone and MS polymer, the cheaper MS polymers tend to be difficult to use and require skill to get a good finish. Silicones don’t have this problem. They are all easy to use and it easy to get a good finish.
  • Higher-end silicones have very good UV resistance. MS polymers will have UV blockers in the formulation too, but this can cause them (especially the clear option) to appear cloudy or blue. This cloudiness will disappear after exposure to UV though. Higher-end silicones with good UV resistance are always clear.
  • Lower strength means silicone is easier to remove. No one is perfect. It is easy to mess up when applying sealants. We know that. So, whilst some say the higher strength of MS polymers is a good thing, others will say this makes it more difficult for you to remove them. Silicone’s low strength makes it easily removable.
Applying silicone to the substrate
It is easy to get a good finish with silicones

Ultimately, there are plenty of reasons why silicones have become the most popular sealant. 

Which is the best sealant for you? Can you justify paying more for silicone?

As we have described, the price increase of silicone sealant is likely to stay for a while. You will need to either look for an alternative or pay extra to continue using silicone.

We are specialists in adhesives and sealants. We are aware that it can be difficult to know what to do in this situation. 

In our opinion, we would say if you are a big fan of silicone and love how easy it is to use, we would suggest paying a little bit more so you can continue using it.

However, if you want a little more from your sealant and would like to be able to paint over it, we would suggest going for an MS polymer.

There are so many different price ranges and variations of MS polymer that there is bound to be something for you. Our blog on MS polymers should give you a more ‘in depth’ guide to the different types you can get.

Or, if you want the help of an adhesive and sealant expert, you can click on the banner below. One of our experts will be able to help you decide which sealant is best for you.

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