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 facade.

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

EMSEAL Expansion Joints COLORSEAL expansion joint from 15 feet away EMSEAL

Placement, color choice, use of facade 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 it.


EMSEAL Expansion Joints-Curtainwall-to-brick

From 15 feet away, if you’re not focusing on getting through the revolving doors to the left of this curtainwall to brick interface, you might just discern the Seismic Colorseal joint that divides the two facade elements of this corporate campus for Dell/EMC Corporation.

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.

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 Colorseal color range, as well as the location of the join 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.

EMSEAL hidden wall expansion joint

Shadows, color selection and placement. These design decisions of for this Colorseal expansion joint at 100 Cambridge Street, Boston makes the 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 you think about these things, that the expansion joint between the new and existing buildings is at the facade color change.

Should you bother to look at this juncture from the curb or sidewalk, you may still find it difficult to discern.

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.

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.

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.