How premium adhesives add value to installations

August 13, 2014

August 4/11, 2014; Volume 28/Number 4

For many its ‘pay now or pay later’

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 2.30.10 PMBy Louis Iannaco

The importance of a professional installation is inarguable. Everyone suffers from a poor installation—from the consumer and mechanic to the retailer, all the way up to the mill.

When it comes to adhesives, exactly how do premium products add value to installations? What are the specific attributes that make these adhesives better than others? What functions should or shouldn’t they perform?

As industry veteran and International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI) Master Installer Roland Thompson, a manager at Kehne’s Carpet One in Frederick, Md., noted, with so many installers and companies looking only at price when bidding on a job, they don’t understand that, in the long run, a premium adhesive is going to save them money. “I find most premium adhesives will spread better, set up better and perform at a higher standard than the lower quality adhesive,” he explained. “This alone adds value to my job and gives me the confidence I won’t have a failure down the road.” His preferred adhesive products are from Taylor, Roberts and Mapei, among others.

Like Thompson, Jim Walker, CEO, CFI, believes premium adhesives provide both the installer and dealer with a sense of security. “In these recent economic times, it appeared too many found a way to cut costs by purchasing the ‘multi-purpose’ adhesives that really are not what the name signifies. The word is misleading; there is no such thing. The job must be analyzed, the type of product considered, the substrate—the list goes on before an adhesive can be selected.”

According to Walker, adhesives are designed to work with various products, different types of carpet backings, substrates and problems that surface in regard to the environment and job locations. “The top-of-the-line adhesives address specific problems and are true to their names. Manufacturers continually take measures to upgrade these products and provide what is needed for the job.”

Another CFI Master Installer, Scott Terryberry of Rocky Mountain Floor Design in Winter Park, Colo., has always used premium adhesives. “I feel they will give the flooring the best chance to perform the wayScreen Shot 2014-08-13 at 3.39.16 PM the manufacturer intended. It gives me peace of mind knowing I won’t have any issue with the adhesive.”

What makes premium adhesives better than the rest? According to Terryberry, it’s their consistency, “being able to get an even spread and more consistent cure times, and knowing that bond strength will be high.” Before becoming a retailer, Terryberry used adhesives primarily from Roberts and Henry. Now he uses the manufacturers’ glues or their recommended adhesives.

Duey Johnson, CFI installer, commercial contractor and owner of The Rug Rat in Bismarck, N.D., does many patterned installations and believes that while working in high-traffic areas, a premium adhesive is a must. “I don’t want to have any failures because I used the wrong or cheap adhesive. Most of my installs are hospitality jobs, so a callback means big money. If a ballroom has to be shut down because the carpet has speed bumps, it costs me big time.

“You need quality adhesives not only for longevity but because they’re typically lower in VOCs, which are not only better for the surroundings but the smell is easier to dissipate,” he explained. “You also want to work with a premium adhesive for its capabilities; it’s easier to spread and creates much better tensile strength. An inexpensive adhesive will smell worse and be difficult to work with.”

In all of his commercial glue down installations, Johnson requires the end user to furnish all adhesives. “It not only protects me from a failure,” he explained, “but whoever is selling the carpet, in most cases, will not sell a cheap adhesive because manufacturers know what happens when a cheap adhesive is used.” Johnson uses Parabond adhesives as well as thinset products from Mapei for ceramic tile installations.

Nate Hall, CFI Master Installer and owner of The Enchanted Floorist, New Holstein, Wis., also believes “top shelf” adhesives handle better. “They trowel easier and excess adhesive can be troweled off the floor with greater ease. In a double-stick installation, where a 1⁄8 x 1⁄8 x 1⁄8-inch U-notch trowel is required, a high-solids adhesive can mean the difference between success and failure. Many installers don’t wait for the adhesive to achieve proper tack, and when using a watery adhesive you can’t blame them.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 3.39.37 PMJerry Coon of Jerry Coon Wood Floors in Orlando, Fla., believes if installers use a cheap or inexpensive adhesive, they’ll never have the security of knowing the floor is going to stay down, especially in Florida “where we have nine months of humidity. With a product like Dri-Tac—and I’ve been using it for over 20 years—I’ve never once had an issue with a floor popping up due to moisture or humidity.”

As he explained, using a premium adhesive is a good insurance policy not only for the installer, but for the end user as well.

Another CFI Master Installer, Roy Lewis, owner of Eagle Interiors in Phenix City, Ala., said premium thinset adhesives usually mean “a higher percentage of Portland cement, and a higher percentage of Portland gives you a stronger bond, tile to substrate.”

Walker may have summed it up best, saying that purchasing a premium adhesive is like buying an insurance policy. “For the qualified installer who knows quality product contains more solids, which translates to the longevity of the adhesive; it will not crystallize or deteriorate. The adhesive will spread easier, does not roll on the trowel and will set up faster. Better chemicals are used in higher-end products.”

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