Chances are you've seen the commercials. They bring you all the amazing attributes of the "Flex Seal Family of Products."
You know the ones I'm talking about. They star Phil Swift performing any number of miracle repair jobs using a variety of products in the family. In one he's seen using Flex Tape to patch a roof. Another he sprays Flex Seal to fix a leaking gutter.
In others, he replaces the bottom of a row boat with a screen door, which he covers with Flex Seal. The next day on the water, of course not only is the boat still afloat, it's completely dry inside. It's kind of like duct tape on steroids.
Of course, they had me when he pronounces that "Flex Seal is actually liquid rubber in a can."
When I heard that over and over again—it seems like the commercials are always on—as the editor of Rubber & Plastics News, I just had to see what the fuss was about.
And what I found out was that it's much more than "liquid rubber in a can." In one spot, Phil shows all the different repairs that can be made to sky lights, mobile homes, roof repair, basement leads and many more. For that he declares, "It's like a handyman in a can."
But wait, there's more. Later he touts how much water Flex Seal and its whole family of products can hold back. For this, Phil proclaims, "It's like the Hoover Dam in a can," while standing, of course, on top of the Hoover Dam.
Digging a little deeper, it appears this "As Seen on TV" phenomenon dates all the way back to 2011. The Flex Seal Facebook page boasts nearly 600,000 followers, so there are plenty of believers. Who wouldn't be, knowing you can get two full cans of Flex Seal for just $19.99, providing, of course, as you pay separate shipping and handling.
I won't say I actually bought any of the products for testing, but you may be surprised at how many people have.
On its main website, it has links to some newscasts where TV station reporters in different markets tested out some of the claims of different Flex Seal products. As might be expected, those reports tended to give the products a "huge thumbs up."
But there's also a wide range of others who—apparently looking to become YouTube sensations—posted their own tests and reviews. This review says the Flex Seal white version doesn't last (More than 15,000 viewed this review). In this one, a TV station tests claims that Flex Tape stops pipe leaks or patches a roof, and it got fairly good marks.
And of the 327 Amazon reviews 62 percent gave it 4-5 stars, but 24 percent chimed in with just 1 star.
Even Consumer Reports put Flex Seal to the test. It passed the floating and flower pot tests, but failed to seal a leaky gutter, even with three coats.
As a journalist, I will say it worries me a bit when you search all over a company's website and can't find any information on such nuts and bolts as where the company is headquartered, who's in charge, etc. I will say they do have a contact form, and when I sent a note asking where the products were made, they promptly replied that they are manufactured in the U.S., though not divulging any plant locations.
So there you have it. The rubber industry's bright star in the "As Seen on TV" world. I'll let you be the judge. As for me, I'll just keep chuckling when I see Phil Swift touting the amazing attributes of this "liquid rubber in a can."
Bruce Meyer has been on the staff of Rubber & Plastics News since 1988. Baseball will forever be his sport of choice and he's looking forward to the Indians winning a World Series title in his lifetime (but he's also a lifelong Dodgers fan). He knows that wherever he goes, rubber- and tire-related stories are sure to follow.