Expansion Joints and Pre-Compressed Sealants

Resize, Rebuild, Reseal--The EMSEAL Approach to Bridge Expansion Joints


Resize, Rebuild, Reseal

Sizing Bridge Expansion Joints

Project References


The fundamental issues that affect joint sealing in any structure are sizing of the joint in relation to both:

1) the movement expectations of the structure as a product of its length and the temperature range for its geographical location, and...

2) the movement capability of the joint material being chosen to seal the joint. 

Too often these calculations are not done in unison resulting in joint failure. 

Calculating bridge expansion joint movement is the first step to lasting bridge expansion joint sealing.

Click on images to enlarge
Bridge expansion joint data is recorded and shared using EMSEAL Field Card.

As the result of years of vehicular punishment combined with freeze-thaw cycles, and rebar corrosion, concrete or asphalt at joint edges is usually badly cracked or deteriorated.  By removing the cracked concrete and replacing it with EMSEAL's EMCRETE impact-resistant, fast curing, nosing material, the joint edge can be repaired while at the same time reforming the joint gap to a dimension suited to handling the movement expected at the joint and within the capability of the BEJS SYSTEM.
Spalled edges of concrete bridge expansion joint are saw cut to facility removal of damaged concrete. Spalled edges of bridge expansion joint concrete are chipped out after sawcutting.

Form beside rebar in concrete blockout of bridge expansion joint is measured to ensure proper width.

Bridge-deck concrete temperature is read to inform joint-width sizing in advance of expansion joint installation.

With new rebar added to the blockout, the forms are installed and the width checked against the deck temperature immediately before pouring the EMCRETE fast-curing, elastomeric nosing material that will be used to rebuild the joint edges.


EMCRETE elastomeric patching material from EMSEAL is poured to reform edges of bridge expansion joint.

The EMCRETE elastomeric nosing material is poured to both repair the joint edge and resize the gap to suit the BEJS system.

(Click here for a complete overview of this installation)

Installation of the BEJS SYSTEM is fast, can be staged while preserving partial traffic flow, can be done day or night, and can be installed in a wide temperature range.

BEJS-Bridge Expansion Joint System--from EMSEAL is installed into newly formed edges.


Continuity of seal is critical.  This refers to ensuring that not only the joint in traffic surface is watertight but that the joint through all changes in plane and direction up, over, and down all adjacent sidewalks and/or parapets is also watertight.  To achieve this, the joints in the parapets and sidewalks must be sized the same as the roadway joint and the system sealing the roadway must transition through all the elevation changes.  The goal is to have the joint watertight from outside of parapet to outside of parapet across the whole bridge.

Expansion joints are not drains.  One of the major, if not the major cause of structural deterioration of piers, columns and beams on bridges is attributable to leaking joints or joints that are used as drains.  Water laced with de-icing salts and atmospheric contaminants directed through expansion joints sheds directly onto the most critical structural elements of bridges.  Corrosion and expansion of rebar and subsequent spalling result. This requires the reconstruction of the beams, piers, columns and wing walls at considerable expense.  Unless the joint above these structural elements is made watertight throughout its length (from outside of parapet to outside of parapet), and unless the pitch of the bridge drains water away from the joints to a less critical discharge point or to purpose-designed drains, this cycle of deterioration will recur at an accelerated pace. "Universal-90's" are EMSEAL's unique, factory-fabricated transitions and termination units that ensure watertightness at changes in plane and at terminations.

(More on Universal-90's)

Factory-Fabricated Terminations and Transitions—in all EMSEAL expansion joint systems, continuity of seal through changes in plane and direction is an essential performance differentiator.

BEJS is manufactured in straight-run sticks which can be joined in the field to EMSEAL’s patented "Universal-90" Transitions and Terminations.

Universal-90 Upturn Termination

Universal-90 Flipped-Over as Downturn Termination

Universal-90 Upturn Transition

Universal-90 Flipped-Over as Downturn Transition

These factory-fabricated single-piece 90-degree units have a 12-inch long leg and a 6-inch vertical piece on each end of the elbow.   The Universal-90's are symmetrically coated on both sides.  This allows them to be installed as an upturn or as a downturn.  Either leg can be trimmed in the field to connect to straight run material or to another Universal-90 when going, for example, up and over a curb and/or parapet.

Universal-90 terminations end, on the 6-inch leg, in a 45o sealed and mitered end.  This allows termination as a stand alone upturn in a parapet wall or provides a surface against to which a wall joint system can be married.  Flipped over, the Universal-90 termination unit can be alternatively installed as downturn termination where a joint runs off the bridge deck.  In this use, the sealed, mitered end provides a drip edge for drainage of water off the joint.

In addition to guaranteeing a continuous waterproof coating, EMSEAL’s "Universal-90's" allow for much faster and secure installation by eliminating field cutting or notching and bending at angles.

Bridge Expansion Joints and Joint Sealants by EMSEAL

Phil Benevides
508-836-0280 --  (cell) 508-439-2508 -- Fax: 508-836-0281

EMSEAL JOINT SYSTEMS LTD. 25 Bridle Lane, Westborough, MA 01581
EMSEAL LLC. 120 Carrier Drive, Toronto, ON M9W 5R1

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