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Making the right choice

Neil Sanders offers his straightforward guide to contractors with respect to selecting the optimum vinyl adhesive.

CONTRACTORS installing vinyl floorcoverings face a potentially confusing array of adhesives to choose from. These include adhesives with special features such as temperature tolerance, pressure sensitive characteristics and water resistance.

Here I’ll provides a straightforward guide to choosing the optimum vinyl adhesive for the job.
Standard, wet-lay adhesives are available for installing practically any type of vinyl sheet or tile floorcovering. The contractor simply applies the adhesive evenly over the subfloor using a trowel and allows it to dry slightly before placing the floorcoverings and finally rolling to ensure good overall contact.

There are also situations where it may be desirable, or even highly recommended, to use an adhesive with specialist properties. Adhesive selection should be based on the specifics of a flooring installation, and it is always advisable that contractors check the compatibility of adhesives and particular floorcoverings.

Vinyl tiles or planks
While wet-lay adhesives are fine where an immediate bond is not required, pressure-sensitive adhesives are often the best choice for installing vinyl tiles or planks. They form an instant grab upon contact, so contractors don’t need to worry about tiles or planks moving about when they’re working, making them suitable for where intricate designs or patterns are being created.

Nowadays, pressure sensitive adhesives are available with a range of additional features, including temperature tolerance, for use where vinyl floorcoverings will be exposed to temperature fluctuations, such as conservatories and areas where floor-to-ceiling windows result in solar gain. Over time, extreme temperature fluctuations will cause vinyl floorcoverings to expand and contract, which can lead to tenting and gapping at the edges of floorcoverings if a suitable adhesive isn’t used.

Moisture tolerance
When installing flooring in an area subject to high levels of humidity or surface water, an adhesive with water resistant properties is essential. An adhesive that isn’t water-resistant may break down and soften when it comes into contact with water, potentially causing floorcoverings to bubble or de-bond.

Epoxy or polyurethane-based adhesives used to be the only option for such installations. These adhesives are highly effective at making areas impermeable to water, so they’re also suitable for installing vinyl floorcoverings outdoors or in entranceways where surface water may collect.

The latest advancements in adhesives technology have enabled F Ball to create a one-part, moisture-curing alternative for internal and external heavy-duty applications, which is also solvent and isocyanate free: Styccobond F73 PLUS.

Unlike reactive adhesives, it offers high initial grab, and fibres in the adhesive limit lateral movement of floorcoverings while contractors are working. Styccobond F73 PLUS is also easier to apply and faster curing than traditional alternatives, requiring as little as 90 minutes to secure floorcoverings, and its fast-setting properties allow for the welding of sheet floorcoverings to take place from as little as two hours.

Hybrid adhesives
The same knowledge is behind the development of a new generation of high-performance, hybrid adhesives, with revolutionary combinations of properties, including temperature tolerance and pressure-sensitive characteristics.

For example, F Ball’s Styccobond F49 Hybrid PS is a water-based adhesive with the familiar characteristics of a pressure sensitive adhesive and develops the extremely high bond strength required to hold vinyl floorcoverings firmly in place in areas exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations (from -20deg C to +60deg C). The properties of this adhesive also make it water resistant, meaning it’s suitable for installing vinyl floorcoverings in damp and humid environments.

Styccobond F49 has also been approved by leading manufacturers for installing vertical flooring accessories, such as skirting, capping and coving. This means it offers an alternative to contact adhesives and allows contractors to use one adhesive to install both floorcoverings and accessories. Unlike contact adhesives, this hybrid adhesive only needs to be applied to one surface and provides high initial tack while allowing contractors to reposition floorcoverings and vertical accessories in the initial stages of drying.

Compatibility check
It’s always recommended that contractors check the compatibility of particular adhesives and floorcoverings as part of any flooring installation. For this purpose, F Ball produces its industry-leading Recommended Adhesives Guide (RAG), which lists adhesives recommended for use with over 6,000 floorcoverings produced by over 200 manufacturers.

A constantly updated version is available on the F Ball website and as a mobile app, which is free to download. Alternatively, F Ball’s technical service department are on hand throughout the working day to answer your questions about F Ball products and how to use them. Contractors can also consult floorcovering manufacturers for advice.
Neil Sanders is technical director at
F Ball and Co

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