All about Adhesives

03 Feb All about Adhesives

Flooring adhesives refer to a variety of solutions used to install a floor surface-covering material to the subfloor or underlayment. Different types of adhesives are recommended for different types of flooring, although some multi-purpose solutions can also be effectively used with multiple materials.

When selecting an adhesive, there are a few important considerations to bear in mind, which include the condition of the substrate and the location in which the adhesive will be expected to perform. With regard to the substrate, certain adhesives will bond to different types of subflooring. Flooring installed on damp, below-grade below ground concrete will require a different bonding material from that required on dry, on-grade ground level concrete. A specialty adhesive may also be needed if radiant under-floor heating is being installed.

Location is another key factor. Interior installations are generally not subject to large amounts of weathering and water damage. If the floor is going to be installed in an exterior environment then a flooring adhesive will be needed that can withstand the stress of rain, sun, and cold conditions, even snow. Climate also plays a role as some adhesives will perform better in warm, humid areas while others are formulated to withstand freezing temperatures.

Other key flooring adhesive factors that need to be taken into consideration:

Dry rate: This is the rate at which one will have to work with the amount of adhesive prepared at each stage. It also determines how long one will have to wait before the surface can be walked on without having to worry about the materials moving.

Consistency: This refers to how well the adhesive grips to the trowel or tool being used, and how easy it is to spread it across the subfloor. If it’s too thin the material will wash out making it difficult to work with. At the same time, an overly thick consistency can make it hard to spread.

Coverage: When calculating how much adhesive will be needed for a flooring installation project, the size of the space has to be included in the equation, and then ten percent added to allow for waste.

Clean-up: The adhesives used in a flooring project can be amongst the most difficult materials to clean up and remove from surfaces. In general, water-based glues will be easier to clean, but that will also make them susceptible to water degradation.

Before delving deeper into the types of adhesive used for specific floor types, it would be useful to expand upon certain terms that are commonly used. Firstly, ‘plasticiser migration’ is a term used when plasticisers leave a flooring product and enter the adhesive, turning it into a soft mess with no holding power. A plasticiser is a component used to soften and provide flexibility in various flooring products such as vinyl sheet goods and vinyl-backed carpet tile. They are also used in adhesive compositions to improve tack.

Another extensively used word is ‘polymer’. A polymer is a chemical compound used in the adhesive’s formulation. It can be natural rubber, styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) or neoprene. The third term is ‘resins’. These are solid or semi-solid and are either natural or synthetic. They are usually insoluble in water, and their purpose is to improve adhesion, improve tack, “wet” a substrate, and improve the film strength by stiffening it. Some common resins are vinyl, acrylic, gum rosin, wood rosin and hydrocarbons.

Types of adhesives available for specific floors


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