Adhesives for resilient floorcoverings

How to get stuck into adhesive specification.

By Stewart Plant, Technical Manager, Uzin.

There are many different types of adhesives available to install resilient floorcoverings such as vinyl, rubber, linoleum and luxury vinyl tiles (LVTs). These include multi-purpose adhesives or specific adhesives for each type of floorcovering.

Pressure sensitive adhesives, high temperature adhesives, tape systems and contact adhesives can also be used. Each has its own merits and are specified depending on the area the floorcovering is being installed or user preference.

Once the correct adhesive has been selected for that particular area/subfloor then there are other important factors to consider such as choosing the correct notch size. No matter what notch size or adhesive is recommended by the manufacturer it’s also critical there’s sufficient transfer of adhesive on to the underside of the floorcovering.

Each variety of resilient floorcovering has slightly different properties and characteristics, dedicated adhesives for different floorcoverings are tailored to deal with nuisance of each specific floorcovering. Linoleum and rubber floors need wet-bed adhesives to provide a secure bond and to restrict any movement while the adhesive dries.

Specialist adhesives should therefore be specified such as Uzin KE 66 for rubber, which is also fibre-reinforced to provide extra strength and support. Homogenous and heterogeneous vinyl on the other hand are a little more forgiving and don’t necessarily need a quick initial bond.
When working on large or commercial projects it may be better specifying a specialist or individual adhesive.

For quick, easy and reliable LVT installations, wet-bed adhesives should be specified in commercial and residential environments. As a wet-bed adhesive LVTs can also be laid in the quickest time possible and restricts movement of the tiles. Many wet-bed adhesives such as KE 66 are fibre-reinforced for increased reliability.

Basic multi-purpose adhesives on the other hand provide good overall performance to various resilient floorcoverings and allow the flooring contractor more flexibility. Some multi-purpose adhesive can also be used to install none resilient flooring such as carpet, for example Uzin KE 2428.

However, there may be restrictions to the thickness of the floorcovering which can be installed. These adhesives are suitable when specifying smaller areas or projects with mixed flooring types.

Pressure sensitive adhesives are suitable for installing vinyl floorcoverings as they’re more tolerant of plasticisers (as long as the subfloor preparation is correct such as 3mm depth of smoothing compounds).

They can also be left to partially dry before the vinyl is installed and allow for natural movement of the vinyl. Some pressure sensitive adhesive can also be used as wet-bed adhesives such as Uzin KE 2000 S so can also be used for LVT, linoleum and rubber depending on the thickness.

High temperature adhesives such as Uzin KE 66 should be specified when installing vinyl, LVTs and rubber floors in areas subject to high temperatures such as conservatories.

There are also new adhesives such as Uzin KE 49 HT which can be used as a pressure sensitive adhesive or as a high temperature adhesive (only when a wet/semi-dry method is used). They give flooring contractors’ flexibility when working and as they’re single component there’s no wastage or mixing required and generally have longer working times.

If a resilient floorcovering is being installed within areas with extreme temperatures, for example, a south facing building with large windows which could magnify the temperature a specialist two component adhesive such as Uzin KR 430 should be used. Two component epoxy or PU adhesives should also be specified when installing resilient floors in heavy duty or wet areas.

There are, however, innovative single component, heavy duty adhesives such as Uzin KE 68 which are tolerant to moisture which could penetrate joints if the weld fails. Depending on the area being installed they can be specified for shop entrances and commercial kitchens.

Save clients time and money with tape adhesives
Resilient floorcoverings in many public and private buildings are subject to high wear. Ensuring floors always look good means replacing them on a regular basis, however it can involve reducing working hours or closing premises during refurbishment. By specifying resilient tape adhesives, it’s possible for clients to renovate floors without causing unnecessary disturbances or closing premises.

A new floorcovering can easily be applied onto an existing floorcovering (or subfloor) without having to remove the old covering. This avoids the normal disturbances caused when renovating and saves time and money on the refurbishment and future renovations.

The new floorcovering can then be used and walked on immediately. Sigan by Uzin is one range of tape adhesives whereby various floorcoverings such as vinyl and LVTs can be fitted onto subfloors or existing floorcoverings. Years later the floorcovering can be easily removed leaving the subfloor intact.

There are still solvent-based products being used to install resilient floorcoverings, particularly contact adhesives for use installing skirting, capping and coving. Most of the trade currently still use solvent based adhesives as they perform well providing a quick and secure bond.

However, owing to the ever-changing health and safety rules and more call for certified environmentally friendly adhesives there are better, safer alternatives which should be specified. The safest and easiest method to install skirting, capping and coving is with skirting tapes such as Uzin U-Tack, a multi-purpose contact tape that can be used to install a huge range of linoleum, vinyl and PVC products.

Skirting tapes don’t require special personal protective equipment (PPE) or work protection measures. With solvent-based adhesives the flooring contractor would need to protect their skin and airways to exposure of the adhesive and its fumes.

Many solvent-based contact adhesives are also highly flammable whereas with skirting tapes there are no explosion risks for the installer or client during application.

Owing to the health and safety risks for installers and clients the use of solvent-based contact adhesives is now becoming banned from hospitals and other sensitive environments.

We see this trend becoming mainstream as legislations increasingly aim to improve the safety of products and create a healthy work environment.

Skirting tapes are also very easy to use and can be simply rolled onto walls they’re also very clean and unlike solvent-based adhesives don’t leave messy residues on the floor or wall when installing. Should a ‘traditional’ adhesive be required there are also solvent-free and EC 1 Plus contact adhesives which can be specified such as Uzin WK 222.

Sustainability and the environment are one of the most significant dilemmas facing the construction industry with consumers and clients requiring products which are safe don’t pollute the air with odours and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

In the flooring industry this particularly concerning because there’s a growing demand for ecological products which help reduce emissions and diminish health risks. Legislations such as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) aim to improve the safety of products and create a healthy work environment. LEED & BREEAM certification is also becoming more prevalent and puts pressure on specifiers to comply with sustainable building criteria and initiatives.

Solvent-free isn’t always equal to pollutant-free, many resilient adhesives still contain various non-volatile organic materials, which gradually evaporate from the adhesive over a long time and make their way into the air we breathe.

This doesn’t occur with EMICODE EC1 Plus labelled adhesives, which provide the highest possible protection against emissions and provide the utmost standards for room air quality in interior spaces.

When working on projects which require sustainable consideration adhesives certified with the EC1 Plus should be specified because they’re solvent-free, very low emission and guarantee excellent indoor air quality as well as providing the most ecological approach for flooring installations.

Most resilient adhesives in the Uzin range have been awarded an EC 1 Plus certificate such as Uzin KE 2000 S pressure sensitive and Uzin KE 66 high temperature adhesive.

Another environmental factor to consider is the lifecycle assessment when specifying products for sustainable projects and initiatives such as BREEAM.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) describe the ecological characteristics of a product over its full lifecycle. An EPD can be drawn on as an environmental information system based on indicators for the basic requirements made on constructions in relation to environmental protection and sustainability in the context of the construction products regulation.

The contents of the EPD are defined by the ISO 14040 and ISO 14025 international standards which means similar products are comparable in terms of their ecological indicators. Before approval and publication, an EPD is validated by an independent expert to ensure the accuracy of the document’s contents and therefore its credibility.

Some resilient adhesives such as Uzin KE 66 high temperature adhesive have been awarded an EPD. Such adhesives are suitable for specifiers in need of BREEAM or SKA rating, an environmental assessment tool for sustainable fit-outs.

In summary
The choice of resilient adhesives has traditionally been down to the judgement of the flooring contractor but correct adhesive specification can help improve safety standards and contribute towards environmental building schemes such as LEED and BREEAM. Adhesive specification can also help clients save time and money.

Tape adhesives for example are designed to meet the needs of clients and can be used discretely so normal business hours aren’t disrupted during installation and future removal. Uzin is pleased to provide help and support to specifiers and their clients regarding adhesive specifications.

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