With the myriad of carpet backings, differing vinyl backings and tiles, it is imperative the correct adhesive be used on a successful installation. The days of a true multi-purpose adhesive to install carpet, vinyl and tile have long since passed the way of the 8-track tape player. For those of you who don’t know what an 8 track tape player is – ask your parents – you’ll make their day.
Now days it seems as if each product has its own adhesive. You see numerous pails of adhesive sitting in dealer workrooms with varying amounts of unused adhesive left in them. Although this may appear to be wasteful, realize that the least costly items on any installation are sundries. When you consider there are three cost centers on any installation, the first being the product being installed, the second being the labor involved in the installation and the third being the sundry materials for the installation. Why is it that installer/contractors always want to cut costs on the least expensive area of the installation? Mainly, I guess, this is the only area of any installation over which they have any real control.
When you have a vinyl-backed product to install, it is essential that a vinyl-backed adhesive be employed. Vinyl-backed adhesives are more expensive than typical latex adhesives, but there is a reason. Vinyl-backed products have plasticizers (oils) in them and the adhesive that is used for this installation has to be plasticizer resistant. Vinyl-backed installations have been performed using standard latex adhesives, only to have them turn into an agglomerated mess a few weeks after the installation. It should also be noted the installer/contractor should never install a vinyl backed product on any subfloor that has any cutback adhesive residue. This residue can be reactivated by the plasticizers in the vinyl and will ooze out the seams to have it tracked all over the installation.
Not only is it important to utilize the correct adhesive for each installation, it is essential to use the correct grade of adhesive for each installation. Too many times, it has been noticed that an installer purchased the cheapest latex carpet adhesive, then spread the adhesive with a smaller notch trowel than recommended, and attempted to adhere a $100/sq. yd. wool Axminster carpet, only to have this installation wrinkle, pucker and the seams come apart. Then we have an irate customer, a dealer who is upset because his customer is yelling at him, a distributor who is trying to make everybody happy and an adhesive manufacturer that states “You didn’t do a proper installation.”
All of this could have easily been avoided by using not only the proper adhesive, but the correct grade of adhesive. The old adage “You get what you pay for” is something we all have heard, but when it comes to flooring adhesives, it seems people have never heard these words. You don’t buy a flank steak and expect it to be as tender as a filet mignon; you don’t buy a Yugo and expect it to ride as smooth as a Cadillac, so why would you expect a low cost latex adhesive to perform to the same degree as a premium carpet or vinyl adhesive? It just won’t happen.
Remember, read the instructions; choose the proper adhesive; and select the proper grade of adhesive for each installation. Currently, all major adhesive manufacturers have a vast amount of information available to you on their web sites. Even if you are not familiar with the manufacturer’s products, they have selector charts, MSDS sheets and specification sheets on each product. Some manufacturers even have coverage calculators which will tell you just how much adhesive you will need for your installation. With all of this available information, it can help you reduce the amount of call backs and complaints you receive.