Of all the floor coverings we encounter, rubber tile is one of the most durable, most expensive, and is very costly to repair or replace. There are several different adhesive systems manufactured specifically for the installation of rubber tiles. Acrylic-based, one- and two-part urethane and two-part epoxy-based systems are some of the more commonly used ones. Acrylics have a cost advantage over the others but they have their limitations when moisture is a factor. Epoxy is, in my opinion, the best at overcoming adverse job site conditions, especially when a concrete slab is your substrate, but they can be hard to work with due to their pot life and window of application.

Being familiar with the adhesive system can save you both time and money, something we can all use more of this time of year.

The following is a rubber tile installation that had problems within days of the installation. Photos 1-3 are of the areas of concern. The complaints were two fold; a popping sound was heard when occupied chairs where rolled across the floor, and adhesive was oozing from the tile joints. Not all areas of the floor had these conditions; only around the desks could the problem be found. In Photos 4-6, a few tiles were pulled back to reveal what was going on beneath the floor covering. Do the photos give you enough information?


I should tell you that the adhesive used was a one-part acrylic and that the adhesive itself is not the problem, meaning the adhesive did not fail. Also you should see what the other areas of installation that had no problems looked like: Photo 8 is what the adhesive looked like in the non-problem areas.

What do you see? Very well defined trowel ridges, almost too well defined. As if the floor covering was not rolled properly. Photos 4-7 do not appear to be the same as Photo 8 due to the difference in the amount of adhesive.

Well, after asking a few more questions I found out that the areas with the rolling chairs had been re-glued because the tile was curling up at the edges, an apparent lose of bond issue.

But when the repairs were done the old adhesive residue was not removed before the new adhesive was applied. Due to the soft set nature of this adhesive system, it does not bridge very well. Epoxys on the other hand bridge very well because they dry very hard.

Usually adhesive related failures are, "Failure of the adhesive to get out of the bucket and onto the floor," Mike Hetts told me that when his hair was not so gray.

When the repairs were done it appears that the tiles were set in wet and air bubbles were trapped, making the popping sound. Also when adhesive is oozing at the joints and nothing else has changed, indicating moisture in the slab, then it's a good bet that the moisture in the adhesive was trapped below the non-porous tile.

Because the first application of adhesive sealed the concrete to some degree, the moisture in the second adhesive application (during repairs) had nowhere to go! But is it fair to blame the installer for all of the problems?

He used the adhesive that was given to him for the job! Maybe epoxy should have been used where the rolling traffic (dynamic point loading) was to be! Or maybe smooth-backed chair mats in the area of rolling chairs may have helped?

You Make the Call!

Hope you had a Happy Holiday and thanks again for reading. Have a great day!