New Adhesive for Vinyl and Rubber Flooring Allows Immediate Access to Space for Use

Major hospital renovation is proving ground for no-VOC spray-on system

By Kenn Busch

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    Using spray adhesives allowed the installers at Lafayette General to release the floor immediately for the other trades without fear of irreversible damage to the floor—one of the distinct advantages of using this type of adhesive. View larger

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    Spray adhesive's lack of VOCs was another big positive at Lafayette General, allowing installers to install flooring without having to build containment walls or close down floors to capture VOCs found in typical adhesives. View larger

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    The 180,000-square-foot renovation of Lafayette General Medical Center involved gutting Floors 2 through 10 in two towers and working around the operations of the multi-pod ICU; the switch to spray-on adhesives helped keep the project on schedule. View larger

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    The 180,000-square-foot renovation of Lafayette General Medical Center involved gutting Floors 2 through 10 in two towers and working around the operations of the multi-pod ICU; the switch to spray-on adhesives helped keep the project on schedule. View larger

no vocs a fit for healthcare Lowery says the spray adhesive’s lack of VOCs was another big positive in the Lafayette General project.

“We didn’t have one complaint about the smell, which is very unusual in a job this size. We’re very conscious about this with our materials, especially in hospitals. So not getting any negative feedback was yet another boost in our comfort level with this method.”

“The lack of a smell is the other beauty of it,” says Lukaszeski. “In sensitive areas like the ICU, we would have had to build a containment wall to capture any offgassing of that chemical smell. This is an ideal adhesive to use in a functioning healthcare facility, where you’ve got ill people trying heal. The old adhesives would smell for at least a day, but time is relative to someone who’s sick. Even five minutes of a smell like that is too much—zero smell is perfect.”

A containment wall in an ICU corridor also creates a safety risk for patients because it constricts movement of medical personnel, Lukaszeski says.

“We couldn’t shut down the corridor that connects the three ICU pods, but we found that we could use the spray adhesive to install flooring in half the width of the 8-foot-wide corridor without having to close it off. And we could immediately open the newly installed areas to carts and beds and foot traffic without any fear of damage to the floor.

“I honestly don’t know how we would have done this part of the project at all with the old adhesives,” she adds.

“One of the big differences in the spray versus the trowel adhesives is floor preparation,” says Lowery. “Last-pass trowelling catches the last of the debris left over from prepping and sweeping, because the installer is right down at floor level. You’re standing when you apply the spray adhesive and you might not see those last foreign objects on the floor, so the floor prep must be perfect.

“We decided that a last pass with a damp mop was the best approach. Any left-over dust will reduce the bond of the spray adhesive, and of course any debris will telegraph.”

“The one issue we did have in learning to use the spray adhesive was getting the right coverage,” Lowery notes. “We were probably applying half too much adhesive, which didn’t result in any quality issues, just a waste of adhesive.”

fast-track installation, plus easy tile replacement “Initially I was a little bit concerned about the spray adhesive’s performance over time,” says Lukaszeski, “but we’ve had no issues, no tiles popping up, nothing. When the punch list included some tiles that needed replacing, we learned that you apply the adhesive to the back of the new tile away from the floor to prevent overspray issues; you can’t hit the floor below a single open tile space without getting some overspray.”

Pulling up a tile installed with a spray adhesive is easier than a tile installed with traditional adhesives. It’s a bit tougher than a pressure-sensitive carpet tile, but it certainly doesn’t require a demolition machine, and you don’t have to scrape the old adhesive off the back, retrowel the spot or worry about height variations.

Spray adhesive is also more forgiving than trowelled adhesives when it comes to concrete substrates. Acrylic, for instance, won’t flash properly when applied over a nonporous slab and underneath a nonporous floor like rubber. Spray adhesive reacts the same over porous and nonporous concrete. It also works over metal and cementitious terrazzo, avoiding the need to chip it out.

“We’ve used the spray adhesive on a few jobs since the Lafayette General project wrapped up in October of 2011,” says Lukaszeski. “It’s a great solution any time you’re working in a tricky area. For instance, the sheet vinyl flooring in patient restrooms in another hospital were failing. We had a very small window of access, replacing the floors in the evening to be ready for patients the next morning. I recommended that we use the spray adhesive to install new vinyl floors and it worked perfectly.”

Suppliers of spray adhesives say that they are designed for any project or part of a project that needs to be returned immediately to service. A hospital is the perfect example, of course, but another common challenge is replacing the flooring in elevator cabs. Or retail stores. Or office buildings.

“This is a real solution for fast-track jobs,” says Lowery. “Come to think of it, we have very, very few jobs that are not on a fast track.”

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