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        Changing Use of Adhesives in

        Multi-Family Environments

                                                                       BY MIKE SAHLI, CIM, EVOKE CONTRACT

                     hile working with a                                     in this application will be a 2mm or 3mm
                     group of installers on a                                glue down flooring which requires a hard-
                     large new construction                                  set style of adhesive. A hard-set adhesive
        Wapartment project,                Before considering                can help minimize movement and possible
        I observed the installation of the                                   gapping. This is caused by the flooring being
        flooring and commented that they were   an installation              subjected to heating and cooling cycles that
        technically not using the chosen adhesive   not using the            may fall outside of the flooring manufacturers
        correctly as the spread rate that they                               acclimation requirements and the effects
        were applying the adhesive may void the   manufacturer               of direct localized heating that can occur
        adhesive manufacturer’s warranty. In                                 from sunlight through a window or slider.
        most cases, this would start a discussion   recommended              Hard-set adhesives applied correctly will do
        about utilizing the adhesive to maximize                             a good job of preventing flooring movement
        the strength of the adhesive and maintain   spread rate, check       and gapping. Conversely, they can have a
        the manufacturer’s warranty.                                         potential negative as they can make removing
          The response I got back was a bit   with the adhesive              damaged planks or tiles much more difficult.
        surprising, but not unexpected. It turns                               In the past, it was not uncommon to see
        out this wasn’t a case of ignorance about   manufacturer about       pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA) specified
        proper use as they were quite aware of                               for the installation of VCT tile and carpet
        what they were doing. The way they were   what affect applying       tile being used to install luxury vinyl planks
        applying the adhesive would result in a                              and tiles. The combination of aggressive
        much weaker bond to the substrate was   the adhesive at such         early grab strength, long working time and
        exactly what they wanted.                                            lower cost make them attractive adhesives
          Why would anyone willfully use an   an extended spread             for installations being performed in the
        adhesive in a way that could possibly                                multi-family environment. In most cases,
        void the manufacturer’s written   rate would have on                 shops and installers are aware these adhesives
        warranty? The answer is simple and                                   are not specifically warranted for use with
        makes perfect sense given what the     the warranty.                 luxury vinyl and any future claims against the
        building owner and facilities personnel                              adhesive would probably be denied.
        see as an important attribute of flooring                              With the introduction of newer PSA style
        in their buildings. The ability to perform repairs fast with easy plank   adhesives formulated and warranted for LVT/ LVP, the use of non-
        replacement was desired. The property managers and the installation   warranted VCT and carpet tile adhesives is diminishing quickly. The
        team had performed a cost versus benefit analysis and determined   rapid change over to the newer adhesives is not surprising as they
        that any negative aspects of how they were utilizing the adhesive   offer many of the same benefits as earlier introduced PSA adhesives
        were easily outweighed by the benefit of fast, easy and good-looking   with the added benefit of a manufacturer’s warranty.
        repairs. Being able to remove and replace planks would greatly extend    Going back to my comments about the large apartment project, it’s
        the life of the flooring, resulting in a substantial cost savings over   important to note the adhesive being utilized was a PSA warranted for
        time.                                               LVT/LVP and the concern I had about voiding the adhesive warranty
          What we have here is a case of a group getting together and   had to do with how much adhesive, or in this case how little adhesive
        writing a system warranty based on their expectation of how   they were applying to the substrate. For this adhesive, the spread rate
        they want a flooring system to perform. This is based on their   for a typical non-porous substrate is around 200 sq. ft. per gallon, but
        experiences gathered over time. This “tribal knowledge” about the   the installers were applying the adhesive at a spread rate of at least
        use of a combination of products and installation procedures is not   300 square feet per gallon. The installers knew that the 200 sq. ft./gal
        uncommon.                                           spread rate would be to aggressive for easy plank replacements and
          What are the potential negative aspects of how these installers   instead utilized a spread rate that would give them the best overall
        were utilizing the adhesive? In most cases, the flooring being installed   combination of bond strength and repairability.

   8    The Flooring Contractor Magazine       Summer 2020
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