There are many different types of adhesives for the installation of floor coverings on the market today.  How do you select the right one for your next broadloom carpet project?

Most of the non-vinyl backed broadloom carpets require a SBR based adhesive. SBR is an acronym for Styrene Butadiene Rubber. This rubber gives “legs” or early green strength to the adhesive which allows stretching of the carpet to match the patterns. This occurs primarily through the evaporation of the water, and holds the carpet to the floor during the installation.  There are many ingredients other than rubber (SBR) and water used to make SBR adhesive such as resins, oils, fillers, thickeners, and other chemicals to allow all of these to properly mix, stay blended, become freeze-thaw stable, balance the pH.

You need the right blend of resins, oils, fillers, rubbers and water to have a great adhesive and this starts with the quality and quantity of chemicals.  Too much filler will cause the adhesive to be dry and brittle when cured and too much oil will soften the adhesive. Too little rubber will mean less “legs” and will result in low resiliency.  Too much water will lower the solids content.  Manufacturers can modify their adhesive formulas to have specific working properties for the geographical conditions:  fast setting adhesives in regions with cold, humid weather; slower drying adhesives in hot & dry areas; premium high-solids adhesives for high traffic areas or contract grade low-solids adhesives for constant turnovers of carpet, such as apartment complexes.

One of the biggest problems we see is when the installer uses a contract grade adhesive (usually lower in cost) where a premium adhesive should have been used. Worse yet, adhesives are often applied using the wrong notch trowel.  A smaller notch trowel puts out less adhesive and the lower solids adhesive, when cured, has perhaps 20% less adhesive properties than a premium product. This lethal combination causes failure in many installations. Adhesive is part of the chain link of a successful installation and failure will occur at the weakest link.  You must have enough adhesive to bond to the substrate, enough adhesive to reach the recessed areas of the carpet backing, and enough adhesive in the middle to form a good lasting bond.

What is your best chance of success?  Make the right selection of adhesive and trowel size according to the type of backed carpet being installed and the specific installation requirements.