They seal top structures to the substrate, and are particularly effective in waterproofing processes by keeping moisture out (or in) the components in which they are used. They can provide thermal and acoustical insulation, and may serve as fire barriers. They may have electrical properties, as well. Sealants can also be used for simple smoothing or filling. They are often called upon to perform several of these functions at once.
A caulking sealant has three basic functions: It fills a gap between two or more substrates; it forms a barrier through the physical properties of the sealant itself and by adhesion to the substrate; and, it maintains sealing properties for the expected lifetime, service conditions, and environments. The sealant performs these functions by way of correct formulation to achieve specific application and performance properties.