Growth opportunities for adhesives and sealants in $10 billion construction market

The building and construction industry offers significant market growth opportunities for adhesive and sealant companies.

Adhesives and sealants (A&S) have had a large impact upon the construction industry since the invention of synthetic polymers nearly 100 years ago. A&S usage proliferated rapidly with the introduction of a much wider range of high- performance base polymers and formulations in the 1960s to 1980s era. Today, adhesives and sealants are important elements of most building systems and structures, a trend which will likely accelerate as the industry adopts innovative construction techniques and designs.

According to a new market report from consultancy Smithers Apex - The Future of Construction Adhesives & Sealants to 2023 - the building and construction (B&C) industry presents considerable opportunities for market growth for A&S companies in the coming years.

Market growth

The global A&S market for B&C industry applications totalled about 4.12 million tonnes, worth $10.4 billion in 2017. This and is forecast to grow to about 5.47 million tonnes worth $13.7 billion in 2023, according to Smithers Apex data.

Within the B&C sector, adhesives products usage totalled about 3 million tonnes, generating about $7.6 billion sales at the factory level. The B&C sector accounts for about 28–30% of all A&S usage. Sealants usage in the B&C sector is forecast to grow from 1.15 million tonnes ($2.8 billion) in 2017 to 1.49 million tonnes ($3.7 billion) in 2023. Smithers Apex estimates that the B&C sector consumes roughly 40% of sealants usage worldwide.

The commercial construction segment leads in terms of both volume and value, followed by the residential construction segment. Volume and value in infrastructure/civil construction projects are considerably smaller, although higher average prices reflect the more stringent performance demand of many applications in this segment of adhesives.

Regionally, Asia is the largest and the fastest growing region in terms of A&S consumption for B&C end uses. Asia is led by the phenomenal growth of the Chinese economy, and the growing wealth of Chinese society.

Key trends

Ongoing and developing trends in four areas will drive gradual changes in adhesive and sealant usage patterns and may present long-term opportunities for adhesives and sealants suppliers. These areas are:

  • Construction costs and efficiency
  • A&S product development
  • Demographics
  • Regulatory climate

In terms of construction costs and efficiency, the fabrication of complex components in a controlled factory environment is inherently more efficient than building the same component in the field. Widespread adoption of factory fabrication might shift large amounts of adhesive and sealant consumption from the field to the factory – and in turn will likely favour use of high-performance two-part reactive adhesives and of hot melt adhesives.

It might also reduce demand for adhesive and sealants packaged in 200ml and 300ml paper tubes, shifting demand to 150 to 200 litre steel drums and larger intermediate bulk containers. There will also be likely changes in education around the use of new building methods and materials.

New product developments

In terms of product development, while B&C industry craftsmen and contractors are generally satisfied with the range of adhesives and sealants products available to them now, there will likely be a few advances over the forecast period.

These will include materials that are certified for a wider range of end uses, to reduce the number of different products that must be handled at the job site; and A&S products that are easier to apply, to work into an aesthetically acceptable finished surface, and easier to clean up, with sacrificing performance.

In terms of demographics, the migration of populations to urban cores has the potential to drive a significant shift away from standalone single-family homes, towards urban multi-family dwellings. While the interior use of A&S will not see substantial change as a result, the exterior building will change dramatically.

Then there is the ongoing development of regulations related to B&C, and to the use of A&S. Changes in local markets can have a major impact; while a continued gradual displacement of solvent- based products is expected over the forecast period.

These, and other key market and technology trends, are discussed in detail in Smithers Apex’s new market report The Future of Construction Adhesives & Sealants to 2023. For more information or purchasing options, download the brochure.