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Choosing The Right Flooring Adhesive

Neil Sanders on choosing the right adhesive

THIS month I discuss the importance of choosing the right adhesive. With so many different flooring adhesives on the market, contractors can mistakenly perceive it as easier to specify an all-purpose adhesive than selecting an adhesive made for the particular setting and subfloor that they’re working on.
However, the risk of choosing the wrong adhesive is something that can potentially have a high cost, and is easily avoided. Using the right adhesive allows contractors to deliver guaranteed, lasting results for the lifetime of each flooring project.
General purpose adhesives, which are compatible with the majority of floorcoverings on the market, fill an important role for flooring contractors and can be used to secure a wide variety of flooring types.
However, contractors who gamble, by using the wrong adhesive for the floorcovering or setting, open themselves up to potentially costly mistakes. Every flooring project presents unique challenges.
l Selecting an adhesive: In certain situations, opting for a specialist adhesive, over a general purpose adhesive system, will not only help to provide an optimum bond between floorcovering and subfloor, it will also help to maintain the durability and aesthetic appearance of a new flooring installation. It is useful to think about ease of installation, the expected use of the floor and wider building environment, before selecting an adhesive.
Specialist adhesives are available for different types of floorcoverings. If a suitable adhesive is not used, or is used incorrectly, it can lead to laborious and costly remedial work. For example, a carpet that lifts or pulls around the edges, or doesn’t permanently bond to a subfloor, not only looks bad but can also create a health and safety hazard. Equally, the aesthetics of bespoke design vinyl flooring may be compromised if adhesive trowel lines can be seen through the material.
The best way to specify an adhesive is to refer to manufacturers’ guides to adhesive compatibility, which contain advice and recommendations to help select an adhesive that is compatible with the floorcovering and substrate. A good guide to compatibility will also give information on the type of bonds that can be achieved with each adhesive.
l Changing materials: The materials used in floorcoverings, skirtings and covings change frequently, reflecting advances in manufacturing techniques. Because the materials used in floorcoverings are so frequently updated, it is essential that contractors always consult up-to-date manufacturer guidelines, before selecting an adhesive that has been tested on the updated materials.
To ensure compatibility, responsible adhesive manufacturers regularly test compatibility between adhesives and new or updated floorcoverings. Flooring contractors who gamble by specifying an adhesive that has ‘worked in the past’, without checking if it is still compatible, are opening themselves up to mistakes that have the potential to be very costly.
l Specifying for ease of use: In addition to checking the compatibility of an adhesive with a floorcovering, some projects require an adhesive that will support the final function of the finished floor. For example, in retail spaces, an adhesive can be used in conjunction with a synthetic polymer sealer to provide a release bond. This supports fast and easy removal of textile floorcoverings, ideal for merchandise spaces that are changed frequently.
When fitting a new floorcovering to a prepared subfloor, it is possible to choose the ‘right’ adhesive from the wide range of products available by taking several things into consideration.
Firstly, seek advice from manufacturers to ensure the compatibility of the adhesive with the flooring structure.
Secondly, think about the environmental conditions surrounding the job, and finally consider the type of floorcovering being installed. CFJ Neil Sanders is technical director for F Ball and Co
n T: 01538 361633 n

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at