In the flooring industry of today’s market, we see flooring come and flooring go. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is attend a Neocon or a Surfaces trade show and you will see an array of changes. Some products are re-designed and some are completely new. Where we see the most change and diversity is in the LVT market place. With the ever-changing technology in textured wear layers, print films and backings, the combinations are endless. However, if it isn’t properly adhered then there will be a failure. Whether it is the best looking, the most expensive or the most economical LVT, it needs to be properly adhered so the product is allowed to perform the way it was intended to.
The subfloor or substrate is always important when it comes to resilient flooring as substrate imperfections will telegraph through the flooring. The substrate can also determine the adhesive that will need to be used: porous, non-porous, moisture levels, application, rolling loads, etc. Be sure to take all this into consideration when choosing adhesive.
So, what are the recommended adhesives for LVT? There are true pressure sensitives, acrylics that are usually wet sets but can be used as transitional more like a pressure sensitive, a “modified silane” that is more aggressive than acrylics, and then there is epoxy. All should be taken into consideration at the specification stage but also from the flooring contractor side. Just because A&D specified it does not mean the flooring contractor cannot ask questions when getting ready for the job.
So, here is a quick rundown of applications. Let’s start with pressure sensitives. These adhesives can be used for both porous and non-porous and are great for quick turnaround jobs where access to the room can be immediate. These can be a spray, a roll-on or a troweled application. Typically, the adhesive is allowed to dry to the touch and then LVT is installed. Although these adhesives have great bonding abilities they are considered a soft-set adhesive.
Then there are the acrylics. These can be a wet set or a transitional adhesive and are considered more of a hard-set adhesive compared to the pressure sensitives. These adhesives will be more stable under rolling loads and temperature variation, and a more permanent installation. Unlike the pressure-sensitive adhesives, the material is installed onto acrylic adhesive wet or semi-wet. The adhesive is applied with a trowel and then has a flash/open time before the material is applied. When installed, the adhesive should have transferred to the back of the material. Wet-set acrylics can be used on both porous and non-porous substrates but the application characteristics will vary when it comes to trowel sizes and open/working times. When acrylics are used as a transitional adhesive the open time is greater, usually dry to a light touch of the fingers so the trowel ridges slightly skim over.
The next adhesive, a step up from the acrylics, is modified silane. This is a moisture- cured, wet-set, troweled adhesive that has a very tenacious bond and has excellent resistance to moisture from both topical and substrates usually with high RH or MVER levels. MS adhesives are used on both porous and non-porous substrates which will also determine your trowel sizes.
The last adhesive on the list is the epoxies. These are a very hard-set, two-part adhesive that has excellent resistance to topical moisture, rolling loads, or dimensional stability when LVT might be exposed to high temperatures due to sunlight. Again, epoxies can be used for both porous and non-porous substrates. Epoxy is not commonly used with LVT but definitely an option if required.
This is a basic rundown of the different adhesives that are commonly used with LVT. There are both manufacturer recommended adhesives and third party options on the market. If you have any doubt or questions in regard to what adhesive should be used with your LVT installation, call the tech department. Always read the technical data sheets before installation begins, as it is imperative to show up at the jobsite with the proper adhesive.