Watertight Expansion Joints and Construction Sealants by EMSEAL

“Expansion Joints are UGLY!”

EMSEAL Expansion Joints-COLORSEAL expansion joint from 50 feet away EMSEAL

“Expansion joints are ugly.” We occasionally hear this objection from architects.

Notwithstanding that eye-of-the-beholder thing, it may be true–if you actually see the joints.

Most people don’t ever notice expansion joints. They’re certainly not the visual focal point of architecture.

As expansion joint material manufacturers, in order to inform designers about our products and how they work, we need to show close ups.  However, it’s more likely that they’ll never be seen.

We continue to innovate to provide aesthetic improvements in our product offerings, however, decisions made early in the design process can be as big a driver in making joints unnoticeable.

The following images show an expansion joint from various vantage points. The purpose is to illustrate that, even if you are cursed, like us, with the obsession of not seeing the architecture for the joints, it takes a dedicated curiosity and a practiced eye to pick expansion joints out of a well-designed façade.

What shopper choosing between TJ Maxx on the left or Wegmans to the right, even knows this joint exists?

Expansion Joint in the Shadows

EMSEAL Expansion Joints COLORSEAL expansion joint from 15 feet away EMSEAL

Placement, color choice, use of façade plane changes, shadow lines, and camouflage are all design options for softening the visual impact of structural expansion joints.

Ultimately though, it is indifference–of patrons, pedestrians or even architecture observers–that results in expansion joints being generally unnoticed.


COLORSEAL precompressed expansion joint seal Conforms to substrates_ EMSEAL

Thoughtful design placement, color choice, shadow, and the perceiver’s purpose, usually make expansion joints all but invisible–unless you’re looking and right on top of them.


Window Wall Expansion Joint Hides in Plain Site

EMSEAL Expansion Joints-Curtainwall-to-brick

From 15 feet away, and while focused on getting through the revolving doors to the left of this window-wall to brick interface, you’re unlikely to discern the Seismic Colorseal joint that divides the two façade elements of this corporate campus for Dell/EMC Corporation.

Clever Concealment of Window Wall Expansion Joint

Window wall expansion joints sealed with Seismic Colorseal obscured by Swooping louvers

Here’s how they did it at Navy Pier in Chicago. A fantastic parabolic louver filters sunlight and hides the window wall expansion joints from even the most practiced eye.

Color Selection--A Top Choice For Hiding a Building Expansion Joint

EMSEAL Expansion Joints -Inside-corner-expansion-joint-EMSEAL

The expansion joint here is between the brick and the curtainwall.  The choice of “charcoal” from the Seismic Colorseal color range, as well as the location of the joint is the key to its obfuscation. That, and the fact that patrons at a New York Mets game, are not likely to have their attention focused on where the joints are.

Adjacent Features Help to Hide Wall Expansion Joint

EMSEAL hidden wall expansion joint

Shadows, color selection and placement. These design decisions for this Seismic Colorseal expansion joint at 100 Cambridge Street, Boston makes the wall expansion joint unnoticeable—especially to the casual pedestrian. Juxtaposition to the similarly colored downspout, cleverly obscures the joint.

CSIS Headquarters From Across Street - EMSEAL Expansion Joints

When admiring the new headquarters of the CSIS-Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC from across the street, you might surmise–if like us you think about these things, that the expansion joint between the new and existing buildings is at the façade color change.

Should you bother to look closer at this juncture–from the curb or sidewalk–you may still find the wall expansion joint difficult to discern.

Horizontal Expansion Joint Camouflage

EMSEAL SJS Expansion Joints in Venetian Pool Deck

Expansion joints in the horizontal plane require a bit more creativity to make them unnoticeable. This clever bit of camouflage at the Venetian in Las Vegas was achieved by creative color design and the careful execution of a deck coating application over the SJS System cover plates by the applicator.

Parking Expansion Joint Stealth

EMSEAL Expansion Joints at Prudential Center Garage

Another example of how horizontal joints can disappear to casual observer. The 12-inch wide coverplate over the SJS System is cunningly disguised beside a detail band of granite.  This joint seals an expansion joint at the entrance to a parking garage at Boston’s Prudential Center.

Stadium Expansion Joints Hide in Treads/Risers, and Seats

EMSEAL Expansion Joints are hard to see

Despite 18-inch wide SJS System stainless steel cover plates, the finished product in the bowl of the New Meadowlands Stadium is nearly unnoticeable to the casual observer. The clever selection of varying grey seats satisfies a grander aesthetic goal but comes with the side benefit of making the grey, stainless steel, cover plates nearly invisible.