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Installation: Floor layers ‘stick’ to their favorite adhesives

July 8/15, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 2

By Lindsay Baillie


Ask any flooring installer what makes a successful installation, and he or she will likely tell you it all depends on what is used to secure the flooring material to the substrate.

Flooring adhesives come in all shapes and sizes—many of which are created and used for specific types of flooring. To use the incorrect adhesive is to risk the entire job and potentially anger the customer, experts say.

FCNews spoke with several installers to find out what types of adhesives they prefer to use. Following are some of their recommendations.

Adhesive tape systems.Mark Olsen, flooring instructor, Carpenters Training Institute, has found great success using adhesive tape systems. The main reason? The flooring can be installed immediately after using the tape. “All the required ASTM testing must be done prior to using the adhesive tape system,” Olsen explained. “And the substrate needs to be properly cleaned—cleaned so well you can eat off the substrate.”

Pressure-sensitive adhesives. A key selling point for many installers is many pressure-sensitive adhesives are moisture resistant up to 95% relative humidity. “A pressure-sensitive adhesive is typically used for carpet tile, and it must be completely dry to the touch for the material to be installed,” explained David Gross, instructor, INSTALL. “Pressure-sensitive adhesives take the guess- work out of the equation. The fact that it can be rolled on or troweled on as opposed to any singular method of application is key.”

Carpet adhesives. When he was a younger installer, Dave Garden, owner and operator, Installation Services of Michigan, used only one manufacturer’s adhesive for almost every carpet installation he completed. These days, he tries to use adhesives made by the manufacturer that produced the flooring he is installing.

“I really began to understand adhesives differently when I started installing specialty carpets,” Garden explained. “I learned to always request an adhesive made by the manufacturer for the product I was installing. I understand many do not actually make their own adhesives. However, I know using their labeled products will make any claim I might have simpler to deal with. When installing carpet today, I will switch adhesives at times when I am working with patterns. I will use a contract grade is I need more open time to correct patterns.”

Ceramic adhesives. When using adhesives for a ceramic installation, Garden looks for products that mix well and “give a crisp install.” He also looks for adhesives that have simple instructions on the label, which makes it easier for Garden to find what he needs based on the tile he is setting.

Clear-spread VCT adhesive. According to Gross, clear-spread VCT adhesive is a similar product across all manufacturers. The main reason he looks to use this type of adhesive is because the product is user friendly. “You can spread the adhesive and then you let it rest until it’s completely dried and there is no mistake when to apply the flooring material,” he explained. “It is very user friendly when it comes to knowing when the adhesive is properly set up to install the flooring. That’s what makes it so attractive. There is no gray area of ‘Is the adhesive tacky enough? Is it ready enough? Has it been open enough? Has it been spread long enough?’ It’s completely dry to the touch.”

LVT, sheet vinyl adhesives. When installing LVT or homogenous sheet vinyl, Dave Ansbro Jr., vice president, Aldrich Rugg Interiors, Bradenton, Fla., looks for adhesives that are installer friendly, have great workability, are low-VOC and meet the projects’ needs. What’s more, he looks to partner with adhesive manufacturers that stand behind their products.