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« Learn more about other chemicals used in Building and Construction

The term “solvents” refers to a class of chemical compounds that are generally used in liquid form for a variety of purposes; including to process, apply, clean, separate and dissolve a wide range of materials. Solvents can be used to thin paint products and also to clean, treat and decrease dry time in the application or installation of other building materials.

The chemical classification of a solvent is based on its chemical structure. Commonly used solvents include hydrocarbon solvents, oxygenated solvents and halogenated solvents.

In building and construction, solvents enhance the effectiveness of different products.


  • Paints and Coatings: Solvents can be used to thin paint, to make paint the desired consistency for application and to avoid clumps or globs. Solvents like glycol ether esters are added to some decorative paints and spray paints to prevent them from drying in mid-air. The slow evaporation properties of these solvents means that contractors can apply several smooth, flawless applications of paint to a wall, for a beautiful, more durable and long lasting finish.

  • Adhesives: Solvents provide the necessary properties to make adhesives in building and construction work properly. Adhesives used in many building materials, such as glues in carpet or metal bonding adhesives in skyscrapers or other structures like bridges, provide strong, weather resistant, shock resistant and lasting bonds. Adhesives are also used specifically for flooring installation for materials like vinyl, laminate, timber decks and timber flooring.

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