Flooring Adhesives – Eight things you need-to-know
The Trowel will impact the effectiveness of the adhesive
Adhesives were first used as an installation method in the wood flooring industry more than a half century ago. The process was simply a matter of spreading the molten asphalt onto the prepared subfloor, then embedding the wood flooring into the asphalt before it began to set. The work was difficult, messy and dangerous.
Things have changed a bit since then. Today’s advanced technologies make adhesives an ideal installation method for most types of wood flooring. Determining when and how to use adhesives properly will be the
difference between a quality installation that will last for years and one that
will cause headaches for the customer.
Here are eight things to know about adhesives:
1. Adhesives work by creating a bond between the subfloor and the
wood flooring. While all adhesives work on the same principle of changing
chemically from a viscose liquid to a solid, they differ in the carrying agents
or catalysts that activate them based on the chemical properties of the
2. There are three types of wood flooring adhesives on the market
today: water-based, solvent-based and moisturecuring. Because each has different
application and performance characteristics, do your research to find the
product that will best fit your installation needs. Some considerations are ease
of product use, product performance span and VOC regulations where the
installation will occur.
3. All wood flooring adhesives require the same degree
of jobsite preparation to ensure a successful installation. In fact, thorough
jobsite preparation is crucial in the long-term performance of the floor and
becomes even more critical if the installation will occur over concrete.
4. Make sure the wood is properly acclimated to the jobsite. While this takes place,
turn your attention to the subfloor. Make sure it is flat. In addition, the
subfloor should be cleaned thoroughly by removing anything that could negatively
impact the bonding characteristics of the adhesive.
5. Be sure to use the adhesive specifically recommended by the flooring manufacturer. Different
adhesives have different chemical properties, which impacts their spread rate,
flash time and longterm performance. Certain types of wood work better with
certain types of adhesives.
6. Be certain to use the trowel type specifically recommended by the adhesive manufacturer. Trowels have different teeth, different widths between the trowel teeth and different depths in the gaps
between the trowel teeth. Both the size and shape of the trowel teeth and the
notches between the teeth will influence the effectiveness of the adhesive as
they determine the spread rate.
7. As a general rule, you only want to put down about as much adhesive as you can effectively work with in a 15 to 20 minute period of time. Any longer than that may cause the installation to fail as the
bonding reaction may already have begun before the wood is installed over the
8. Once the installation has been completed, the floor should remain
untouched for at least 24 hours to allow the adhesive to cure properly. The
absence of foot traffic during this process will greatly improve the long-term
bonding performance of the adhesive.