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Waiting is always the hardest part—but when you’re waiting for the adhesive to set on rubber or vinyl flooring in contract projects, those three to seven days aren’t only hard, they can be very costly to a project’s schedule.
It is also unnecessary, thanks to a new adhesive system for vinyl and rubber flooring.
“Three days’ wait minimum was the rule of thumb, and no rolling loads for up to a week,” is how project manager and interior designer Marie Lukaszeski describes one of the standard frustrations with installing vinyl or rubber flooring. “When the project is a major renovation of a working hospital, you just don’t have that kind of time. Everything needs to be on a fast track, no exceptions.”
Lukaszeski’s firm, Interior Design Solutions, recently completed a 180,000-square-foot renovation of Lafayette General Medical Center in Lafayette, La. The project involved gutting Floors 2 through 10 in two towers and working around the operations of the multi-pod intensive care unit, as well as patient rooms.
“We were working on three floors of a wing at a time, from the top down. There were 40 different phases of construction on this project,” says Lukaszeski.
After the project was about 10 percent complete, the flooring vendor and installer approached her with a new adhesive system that would significantly speed up installation. At that time, the product had been tested but wasn’t officially on the market.
“This was a spray-on adhesive, designed to replace the traditional adhesives that had to be trowelled on. They told me that it had no VOCs and no smell, which is great, but the real selling point was the ability to get right on the floor after installation,” she recalls.
“A hospital, of course, is full of rolling beds and carts, all of them heavy, but you can’t completely shut down an area like the ICU for a week, or even three days. And it’s hard to convince the other trades and staff to wait for the old adhesives to fully cure, which means you often just have to live with tracks and dimples in the floor.”
Those tracks and dimples occur where the trowelled-on adhesives have been displaced—squeezed out from under that part of the tile or sheet before they’ve had a chance to fully set—before curing. In too many projects, these issues were just considered to be a fact of life.
The switch to a spray-on adhesive helped keep the Lafayette General job on schedule. And certain other properties of the new adhesive system have resulted in an improved client experience as well.
spray vs. traditional adhesives
The new spray-on adhesive system was developed by a specialty adhesives manufacturer, who then approached a specific supplier of rubber and vinyl flooring for input and testing in commercial projects. The flooring manufacturer applied the adhesive to several substrates and then “heat aged” them in a 180°F oven for several weeks. This method accelerates the aging of the adhesive, allowing the manufacturer to extrapolate the length of time it could warranty a lasting bond.
That supplier then approached the flooring contractor for the Lafayette Hospital project, Cornerstone Commercial Flooring in Baton Rouge, La. Together, they worked with Lukaszeski and Lafayette General to ensure that the installation was a success.
Up until now, the commonly accepted adhesive systems—acrylic, epoxy or urethane—had to be trowelled onto the floor, with the installer working on his hands and knees. In order to have the right viscosity for trowelling, about 80 percent of the adhesive compound is made up of water and fillers; only 20 percent is adhesive.
By contrast, the spray-on system used in Lafayette General is 100 percent active adhesive. It works like a pressure-sensitive material, but has a very high lateral sheer strength. The tile doesn’t move once you put it down, which is why you can essentially walk on it right away. And because there's not nearly as much adhesive under the tile, it doesn’t displace.
It is also VOC-free, FloorScore approved and non-staining. The 22-ounce canisters are completely recyclable and the design allows for the complete use of the contents, so there is no waste. The contents of each can cover up to 170 square feet.
It should be noted that older spray-adhesive systems were delivered in large propane-style canisters equipped with expensive application wands. The delivery propellant was prone to freezing, so the wands also needed to be wrapped with heating elements; if the glue froze in the wand, it required replacement at a cost of several hundred dollars.