Adhesives: Professional installers express their product preferences

October 31, 2016

October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 10
By K.J. Quinn

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-35-51-pmInstallers expect value, quality and innovation from the flooring adhesives they use every day. They want products that are easy to install and won’t delay any finishing work. And they expect these formulations to perform as advertised so there are no callbacks.

“We’re more focused on the builder and commercial [markets], so when we’re doing a large scope of jobs the exposure on potential product failures are pretty high,” noted Curly Kurdell, president, Henges Interiors, St. Louis. “We want a company that has the wherewithal to stand behind us financially as well as provide all the detail and technical support we need so we can perform the job successfully.”

There are many different flooring adhesives, each providing comparable benefits and pricing. Regardless of the brand, the performance of the material depends largely upon its ability to durably and successfully bond floor coverings in a manner that is acceptable to installers. “We like the open time and the way the Laticrete thinset performs,” said Greg Games, president, Premier Tile & Marble, Gardena, Calif. “It gives us plenty of time to work with the product and material as it doesn’t set up fast. Plus the bond strengths are very high.” From high-strength construction epoxy adhesive to thinset or thick bed mortar, Laticrete adhesives are custom-formulated to deliver speed and efficiency.

In the residential market, adhesives are used in a wide range of remodeling and new home construction applications. While there are many kinds of formulative technologies for adhering various surfaces to the subfloor—and pros and cons associated with using each product—materials which are easy to trowel, offer strong bonding and green grab properties are preferred by installers.

“One of the adhesives we like using is the Mapei Ultrabond Eco980,” said Freddy Velez, special services manager, ReSource Arizona, Phoenix. “It gives you a workable time to spread out the adhesive and start a base for your flooring installation. It dries at a good rate; not too fast or too slow.” Eco980 is a 100%-solids, one-component, moisture-cured premium urethane adhesive designed for the installation of domestic and exotic solid and engineered wood flooring.

Value-added products
Determining the type of adhesive to use with flooring materials often depends on the manufacturer’s specification; however, end usage may also be affected by a product’s track record. Adhesive makers claim to offer a strong portfolio of products backed by the strength of their highly respected brands. And, historically, installers prefer tried-and-true products as they enable them to minimize the risk of floor failures.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-36-00-pm“We know what to expect,” Christian E. Drehmann, vice president, Tile & Marble Works, Lake Worth, Fla., said of adhesives made from Custom Building Products (CBP). “They have an adhesive for every use, whether it be Versabond-LFT, for large format tiles, ProLite, our everyday wall and floor adhesive, or MegaLite for heavy duty installations requiring crack suppressive qualities. CBP also offers a complete installation system—floor preparation, adhesive, grouts and sealer—providing a complete warranty from a single entity.”

Depending on the brand, some premium products may enable installers to gain a greater yield per gallon compared to other formulations. While cost per square foot is important, observers say, installers will utilize premium adhesives if they offer excellent value. For example, Henges Interiors’ Kurdell cited TEC’s Power Grout as “a real winner. The trade up grout is not overly expensive and has stain resistance.” Power Grout is marketed as highly stain resistant and provides strong, color consistent joints by resisting efflorescence, cracking and shrinking.

Coleman Floor, Columbia, S.C., uses DriTac 7300 SureBond and 7500 Eco-Urethane urethane wood flooring adhesives extensively, depending on the job site location. “We have used both products successfully,” said Barry Crowder, southeast U.S. market manager, noting the 7500 as a more expensive option. “The 7500 offers higher performance, has a stronger warranty and a little different formula.” DriTac 7300 is easy to spread and clean up when dry, while DriTac 7500 is solvent free with zero VOCs and recommended for all “green” projects.

Premier Tile & Marble prefers Laticrete’s Permacolor Grout for tile installations, unless an epoxy is specified. “It’s a little bit more expensive than normal sanded or non-sanded grouts,” Games said. “But we don’t have any job complaints or failures on the job site.” The high performance, fast setting product provides a grout joint that is dense and hard, plus color consistent.

The latest adhesives are backed by lengthy warranties covering replacement costs for flooring and labor. In the case of ARDEX and Henry, when their installation products are used together the warranties are covered by the same parent company. “You want an adhesive that works with surface preparation products,” said Bob Seman, installation manager, Seman Flooring, Washington, Pa., noting the Henry 356C multipurpose carpet and sheet vinyl adhesive offers a good, fast grab. “ARDEX and Henry products have been tested together and you know they’re compatible.”

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-38-35-pmVendors who stand behind their products when an installation fails is critical, installers say, as it avoids lengthy delays on the job site. “One of the great things about Mapei is if there are any issues, they are not quick to point the finger and say you did something wrong,” ReSource Arizona’s Velez said.

When there are issues, “TEC is very responsive and warrant their products, which is very important for us,” Henges Interiors’ Kurdell added. “We can reach out directly to TEC and their technical people, and they will coach us [in developing] a solution.” The benefits of TEC flooring adhesives include excellent grab, good initial tack, strong resiliency, tenacious bond and easy spreading.

Technical Service & Support
Adhesive makers say they are responsive and meet customers’ needs. Several operate educational facilities to work more closely with customers and assist them in their product knowledge and installation training. “The reason I like using Mapei products is because of their service,” Velez said. “They spend a lot of time with people in the field.”

ARDEX, the parent company of Henry, provides on-site product know-how and job site consultation to help installers match the right product with the correct installation methods to minimize time, cost and risk. For example, “we are looking at a job which may have an adhesive compatibility issue, and my first call was to the Henry technical line,” Seman said. “Henry is actually sending out a couple of reps to look at this job so we get on the right path and there is not a problem in the future.”

Tile & Marble Works receives support from local CBP representatives in training its installation crew on the proper use of their adhesives and how they perform on different surfaces, Drehmann said. “This has rewarded us with a failure rate of almost zero.”

DriTac technical reps provide guidance and expertise when called upon, Coleman Floor’s Crowder pointed out. “We can reassure homeowners that they won’t have any ongoing, long-term problems [with their floor],” he said. “DriTac is an excellent company in standing behind their products and offering help along the way.”

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