The landscape keeps changing, yet it appears that wood-flooring adhesive options are beginning to stabilize. The old standby 711 is no longer available, as environmental concerns led to the curtailing of 1.1.1. Solvent-based substitutes appeared soon after, some of which disappeared due to potential hazards to the end-user. It would seem time, then, to take a look at some of the adhesive choices currently available in the marketplace.

After a long conversion and installer-training period, urethanes are becoming recognized as the installer’s adhesive of choice. The urethane adhesives available today include those formulated to develop tack, and those with fast-tack characteristics for use in low-humidity regions, such as Nevada and Arizona. There are products on the market with polyvinyl acetate (PVA), which results in extremely fast setting with a hard set, allowing sanding to begin 24 hours later; this makes them useful for unfinished parquet. Other urethane introductions include a two-part product with what the manufacturer claims are “superior working characteristics.”

Available in the “water” category is a styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) modified with acrylic. The pressure-sensitive characteristics of this modified SBR enable the resetting of bowed wood. Straight acrylic, water-based “wet set” adhesives are also found in today’s marketplace. The true pressure-sensitive adhesives, some of which are made of natural rubber, are water-based products that allow for the installation to commence after the adhesive has set up.

A new, patented adhesive recently introduced to the market is a cross-linking acrylate rather than an emulsion-processed product. Time will tell how the wood-installation industry receives it.

It should be pointed out that, as of Sept. 1, lower VOC requirements come into effect in the South Coast Air Quality (SCAQ) district in Southern California. All floor covering adhesives, including wood-flooring adhesives, must comply with a VOC of 100 grams/liter or less. It is a good bet that the rest of the nation will soon require the same level of compliance.

It would be negligent to discuss wood floor installation practices, procedures or products without mentioning the importance of emission-control systems for water vapor. As wood and water are natural enemies, it is vital that the installation profession become versed in the characteristics and proper use of the systems available today. Forewarned is forearmed, a tried-but-true clich?

Some of the systems are single-application epoxies and acrylics. Others are more complex, using layers, or what I refer to as the “sandwich approach.” Remember that no matter which system you select, they have all experienced failures at one time or another. Becoming familiar with the capabilities, and the warranties, of various emission-control systems for water vapor can only add to the success of a wood floor installation.

I would like to thank representatives of Bostik-Findley, Mapei and W.F. Taylor for their assistance in helping me develop this cross-section of today’s wood-floor adhesive market.