The flooring that consumers and end-users want keeps changing; so the adhesives are changing, too. From new formulas to new applications, these adhesives represent the latest technological advances in the industry and are designed to ensure that the floor stays down, no matter the situation.

For this month’s manufacturer roundtable, we asked several adhesive makers to share the new technologies they’re seeing, the new applications their products are being used in and what these trends mean for the installer. This month’s panel features Dave Darche, Bona’s national market manager for adhesives/A&D; David Clarkson, DriTac vice president of strategic development; Jeff Johnson, MAPEI business manager for floor covering installation systems and surface preparation products; and Sonny Callaham, technical director for Divergent Adhesives.

What technological advances/changes in formulation are you seeing in flooring adhesives for carpet, hardwood and resilient? What benefits do these new technologies offer?

Darche: “We are continuing to see a shift from urethane adhesives to silane-based technology for hardwood flooring installations. These advanced formulations are generating fewer VOCs and offer better HMIS (Hazardous Materials Identification System) ratings while still providing good open time during the installation.

“One unique benefit is the increased elongation factor that allows for dimensional movement during RH swings without sacrificing bond strength. Additionally, since silane-based products do not require isocyanates to achieve high shear strength, the adhesive can easily be cleaned off the surface of prefinished floors without fear of etching into the finish.”

Johnson: “In terms of formulation changes, I see more use of silane-modified polymers for resilient and hardwood flooring. These adhesives offer elevated moisture resistance and perhaps better long-term performance over traditional materials. They are very easy to work with, typically low- or no-VOCs, but are oftentimes [at a higher price point]. There are always tradeoffs when it comes to increased technology.”

Clarkson: “Multi-use system adhesives continue to play a primary role in the wood flooring sector due to their ability to offer multiple problem-solving solutions in one pail. Many of these multifunctional products can be cleaned when wet or dry, allowing for a comprehensive system adhesive that provides time-saving efficiency with effective results.

“On the resilient flooring side, spray adhesives continue to make inroads for many of the same reasons. Typically allowing for higher moisture limitations, these easy-to-use products require less adhesive than traditional troweled adhesives, allow for immediate traffic and are easy to clean up while wet. In addition to offering a tremendous advantage in speed and ease of usage, several of these spray adhesives afford zero VOC options.”

Callaham: “For Divergent Adhesives, we are always looking at ways to improve our adhesives. That could mean looking at new raw materials, formulations or even completely different chemical families. A lot of progress has been made over the last few years with using non-water-based adhesives for resilient flooring. Urethane and MS polymer-based adhesives have changed the way we install. Their ability to resist moisture, alkali and indentations makes them perfect for hospital applications.”

Can you speak about the trend toward adhesives that can be used in vertical applications? Is working with them different than what installers are used to on the floor?

Johnson: “Vertical applications provide new challenges for existing adhesives. For the most part we have been providing adhesives that work in conjunction with gravity to hold things together during the curing process. When you put those adhesives on the wall you are fighting gravity. What this means is that for adhesive formulations to work, they need to hold sheets, planks or tiles on the wall without slippage and with enough wet suction or early grab to hold the items in place. Some of today’s pressure sensitive-type adhesives can currently be used on vertical applications but you have to be careful in not overloading the shear strength of the adhesive bonds, which could possibly lead to pieces peeling off the wall. Keep in mind that pressure sensitive adhesives work better with pressure. When you put them on the wall, you no longer have the benefit of the pressure created by gravity or foot traffic.”

Callaham: “One of the fastest-growing market segments for flooring retailers is wall applications. Using resilient flooring as wall treatments can be seen just about anywhere in the country. It is causing a challenge for some folks, since it’s not always a flooring professional installing the material on the wall. It’s always best to have a bare wall and you should always use an acrylic primer designed for concrete floors. This allows the drywall to better receive the adhesive; otherwise the adhesive could be absorbed directly into the drywall and not provide the bond required.

“[For vertical applications,] the adhesive needs to have enough initial tack to hold the surface in position during installation, but it must also have enough strength to hold it on the wall during the life of the installation.”

– Sonny Callaham

“The adhesive itself needs to have enough initial tack to hold the vertical surface in position during installation, but it must also have enough strength to hold it on the wall during the life of the installation. Gravity is constantly working against the success of the installation. I recommend a modified pressure sensitive adhesive; it has the tack for the installation, but it also has been modified so it will have that additional strength required for the life of the flooring.”

Darche: “We noticed an increase of vertical wood applications a while ago and see it as a welcome development for the industry. These types of adhesives set very quickly which helps reduce the number of fasteners required during installation. Vertical adhesives are designed to be more rigid yet don’t crystalize like some DIY or project adhesives.

“Other than the shorter working time (in some cases less than 10 minutes), we see little difference [between working with adhesives for wall and floor installations]. In fact, vertical adhesives are also a good choice for certain horizontal applications like T-moldings, treads and board repairs.”

One change in the adhesives market is packaging and application. Instead of just glue in a bucket, the market is seeing sausages, pouches and other special packaging, as well as applicator guns, spray adhesives and pressure-sensitive tapes. When should an installer choose these over a traditional format? 

Johnson: “Adhesive manufacturers are always trying new methods of packaging their products in attempts to make them easier to use by the installer. The reasons why they would pick something like this are many. Chub packs or sausages are convenient because you only open a small portion of adhesive at a time. This is cool for reactive adhesive systems which are typically more expensive and sensitive to exposure to the atmosphere. Spray cans are nifty in that they get the installer off their knees and apply adhesive very quickly. Tape systems are very exciting in that they provide instant functionality and extremely high moisture resistance. All of these new packages, however, come with different price tags per square foot of application so when they are used this needs to be addressed.”

Clarkson: “One of the more rapidly growing movements is the use of wood and resilient flooring for interior wall design and installation. Adhering and securing flooring to any wall requires a durable, dynamic solution that can endure unique stresses on vertical applications over time. This challenge alone will typically require a more full-bodied technological adhesive approach that can support heavier composition products that were not initially designed to withstand gravity. These types of full-bodied adhesives are more often supplied in cartridge form and applied using a heavy gauge dispensing gun.

“The most important aspect of any successful flooring installation is to make certain you check with the flooring manufacturer for intended use and application recommendations. Many flooring types will require a full-spread adhesive for proper installation, which requires using a proper trowel type that will spread an appropriate amount of adhesive to adequately hold the floor in place and help ensure lasting success.

“Alternative adhesive packaging options may offer tremendous value as well when used in appropriate applications. These condensed, alternate packaging options can offer an extended shelf-life, minimal waste and lighter weight for easier transport, especially on smaller jobs such as repairs, inlays, stair treads, moldings, borders, medallions and more. In the case of adhesive sausages, installers are provided an excellent option for glue and nail assist installations, allowing for adhesive application through use of a flooring trowel or dispensing gun.”

Darche: “The foil packaging associated with the pouch and sausage format prevents moisture from prematurely curing the adhesive, particularly when using only a partial amount of the sausage. You can achieve almost 100% usage of the adhesive from this type of packaging and minimize both product and disposal waste. Adhesives that are packaged in cardboard cartridges tend to harden when unused contents are stored.”

Callaham: “Here at Divergent, we offer a spray adhesive. For us, the biggest benefit is helping the installer get up off of the floor. Allowing the installers to be able to stand up while they apply the adhesive ensures a better long-term working condition. Plus, with the spray adhesive you can allow foot traffic on the installation, long before traditional troweled adhesives.

What are some of your latest adhesive products?

Johnson: “MAPEI has introduced ULTRABOND ECO 811 Universal Carpet Tile (which was designed to accommodate all types of carpet tile backings), ULTRABOND ECO 977 (designed to offer a mid-range moisture control and bonding solution for wood flooring), MAPECONTACT MRT Moisture Resistant Tape and MAPECONTACT SRT Sound Reduction Tape (which are double-sided, high-performance tape systems for resilient, carpet tile and wood flooring).”

Darche: “Bona has two new products: Bona R540 and Bona R880. Bona R540 is a one-component roll-on moisture membrane specially designed to mitigate vapor transmission on absorbent and non-absorbent subfloors, including gypsum-based underlayments. The polyurethane reactive primer is compatible with the entire Bona Adhesive System.

“Bona R880 is an elastic silane-based construction adhesive with high initial bonding strength and extremely quick setting ideal for vertical surfaces. The rapid set is designed specifically for repair work at silane-bonded hardwood floors or the installation of trim boards and vertical wood paneling. Bona R880 offers fast installation, is water and solvent free, low in VOCs, adheres to almost all substrates and is easy to remove.”

Clarkson: “DriTac recently launched the SprayTac family of green spray adhesives for resilient flooring installations. DriTac SprayTac 2500 SG, 2600 LVT-CT and 2700 VCT round out a comprehensive line of resilient flooring spray adhesives suited for the installation of approved sheet goods (SG), luxury vinyl tile/plank and carpet tile (LVT-CT), and vinyl composition tile (VCT) respectively, in both commercial and residential applications. 

“DriTac also recently introduced DriTac 2000 Vertical, an instant grab, polymer-based adhesive technology designed for wall applications of hardwood flooring, hardwood stair treads/caps/risers, large panels, wallboards, mirrors, chair rails and windowsills. It has initial bond strength double that of most other grab adhesives and bonds to vertical surfaces without slippage, eliminating the need for secondary support on the majority of applications. This low-VOC formula will not shrink, crack or peel. It is a highly aggressive adhesive with a tenacious green grab and strong holding power activated immediately upon application.

To learn more about adhesives for flooring installation, click here!

“DriTac now offers 20 oz. adhesive sausages in both urethane and MS polymer adhesive technologies. Additionally, DriTac 7700 Easy Clean, premium green sound and moisture control MS polymer wood flooring adhesive is now also available in a 28 oz. adhesive cartridge that can be applied with the use of a dispensing gun.”

Callaham: “Divergent has recently launched its Timber Adhesive Family. We offer our TimberRigid AF—a urethane wood adhesive formulated to install any type of wood flooring designed for glue-down application. We also have our TimberStick AF, which is an acrylic wood adhesive designed for engineered wood flooring. Lastly is our TimberTight AF—this urethane adhesive is also a moisture barrier and can be used on slabs with no pre-installation moisture testing. By using a saw-tooth trowel, it creates a solid layer of urethane to protect the wood flooring from moisture coming from the concrete slab.”