And so the shortages of fenestration supplies continue to stack up. This time its silicone. There have been sporadic warnings about the lack of silicone throughout the year, but this one feels a bit more significant.

Prices are also going up markedly too. Many are seeing steep double-digit increases, which are only going to add to the mountain of other increases on various materials we have all incurred this year, and are set to keep incurring for the foreseeable future.

GAP Makes A Silicone Statement

In a sign of the strain on the supplies of silicone at the moment, major trade counter stockists GAP issued a statement on Thursday:

With a worldwide supply chain issue affecting Soudal and all other Silicone manufacturers, we are working hard to keep our depots stocked, so our customers have the stock they need.

To ensure this, we have temporarily put limits on the amount customers can buy, to avoid excess stock being purchased.

In the coming days, we will share alternative products to help ease the demand for Silicones. Thank you in advance for your patience.

Soudal Silicone statement

I am aware installers have been buying supplies of silicone fearing that they will not be able to access supplies. In the world of window and door installation, no silicone means no fitting, unless you can get your hands on an alternative. GAP, and I suspect others soon, have decided to limit sales to be able to make sure everyone gets access to at least some of what they need.

There are no signs that demand for silicone will let up soon, and with global supply chains creaking more than ever, we cannot know when this will end.

Here’s another factor to consider when it comes to silicone and other sealant products. Many installers are sat on three to four months of work. That is a huge amount of new windows and doors that are going to need silicone and other sealants. Many installers won’t have placed their orders for the work being fitted months in advance. So thinking ahead, the demand for silicone is going to remain high, and perhaps rise further, in the months to come. The strain will increase.

Time to look for alternatives

The vast majority of installers continue to use silicone every day for finishing around new windows and doors. This is despite the product becoming significantly more expensive and being thermally inefficient. But it is the material everyone knows and so it is the material everyone uses.

What happens then when the supply of silicone becomes short? The choice is being taken out of our hands. It is time to look for alternatives. We may not run out completely, but if supplies really start to get thin on the ground, installers have to find ways to be able to finish their work else risk backlogs in their fitting schedules.

One alternative to using silicones is to use expanding insulation tape. I have talked about this in a previous post on DGB a while back. Tapes like the ISO-Chemie range of tapes that expand around a window or door to completely fill the cavity between the edge of the frame and the wall could be very useful. They have U-Values that are far better than silicone gives, are quick to install, far less messy and improve the overall energy efficiency of the new window or door.

If fitters don’t want to go down that route, there is a range of hybrid silicones out there called Silane modified polymers. They are solvent-free, they are isocyanate-free and stand up well in high temperatures and show good UV resistance. I am not aware that hybrid polymers and sealants are in short supply, so perhaps this is a more viable alternative for installers to be looking at.

As the cost of our materials continues to shoot to the moon, we are approaching a time where we all may have to start looking at alternatives. The argument of passing all costs down to the consumer can only go so far before a company begins to price themselves out of contention. As a sector we’re going to have to start getting crafty about what we spend our money on. We’re going to need to prioritise product and supply over most other things. We may well have to look at using alternative products that haven’t rocketed in price and that have good supplies.

Only this week, major suppliers have warned that the problems with supply chains may not be fixed until 2023 or 2024, in which case inflation is going to be a huge cause for concern, and something we have to try and be proactive about now.

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