October 13/20, 2014; Volume 28/Number 9
By Louis Iannaco
For adhesive producers, ‘adhering’ to industry standards shows their customers that safety is a priority when it comes to formulating and developing products. While there are universal standards most manufacturers follow, they also utilize different guidelines depending on what they produce and to which markets they cater, with the heaviest emphasis in recent years on green developments.
Take Bostik, for example. The needs and safety of the customer and installer come first, according to Eric Kurtz, market manager of the company’s hardwood and resilient flooring systems. Changing environmental regulations over the last decade have acted as a catalyst for continued developments for the company.
“One example of this is solvent-based adhesive systems,” Kurtz said, “which used to be common in the hardwood market and are now becoming more difficult to find as most local codes prevent or limit their use.”
In citing the tile installation industry’s Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortars-designated standard A118.15, finalized in 2012, Kurtz believes it offers improved test methods and the ability to further differentiate a dry-set mortar’s performance. “This is an added benefit to the customer in his ability to more readily select the performance criteria of their dry-set mortar in order to match the functionality required for the finished installation.”
Steve Lontchar, vice president of technology at DriTac Flooring Products, noted there are various associated standards and recommended guidelines applicable to the flooring industry that must be considered during the adhesive development process. These standards include, but are not limited to, application and installation methodologies or guidelines based on flooring, in-service performance requirements (tensile/peel/shear strength), elongation, moisture vapor transmission resistance as tested according to ASTM test methods, and environmental regulations.
According to Greg Wood, president of Advanced Adhesive Technology, the creation of the ANSI S-600 installation standards and ANSI S-800 claims standards are two of the most recent advancements for the flooring industry. “These resulted from the efforts of flooring, adhesive, installation and other representatives from the yarn and backing manufacturers. The process took several years to complete.”
Jeff Johnson, business manager of Mapei’s Floor Covering Installation Systems line, said the creation of an ASTM standard takes years of collaborative effort from manufacturers. “Once a draft document has been developed, it must pass peer review and validation, which can take a very long time to accomplish.”
Many regulations taking place within the adhesives industry over the last decade have focused on the environment. Established in 2005, California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD) VOC Rule 1168 for Adhesive/Sealant applications—the most well known VOC regulation in the wood flooring adhesive segment—has been a strong driver for new product development at Bostik. “Most of our recently launched products, such as Ultra-Set SingleStep2, GreenForce, LVT-Lock and PowerElastic, all have zero VOCs as calculated by this standard,” Kurtz said.
A revision of VOC Rule 1168 was initially proposed in February for public review. “The rule revision has received feedback from various sources, including individual companies and industry-affiliated agencies for amendment purposes, with a vote on the finalized version expected by the end of the year.”
At Royal Adhesives, the focus is on the Global Harmonization System (GHS), a program for standardizing the classification and labeling of chemicals, which includes flooring adhesives. “This will affect the labels and safety data sheets for the products,” said Sonny Callaham, technical product manager. “No longer will you have a ‘caution’ statement on the front label panel; now you’ll have, if needed, a pictogram that will notify of any precautions needed.”
As a general rule, he added, Royal sees VOC content as one of the most important regulations when developing new products. “We typically use Rule 1168 (where applicable) as the guideline, but VOC restrictions can vary from state to state depending on the type of product.”
In most cases, European industry standards are similar to or stricter than those in other countries, especially when it comes to the environment. For example, Stauf’s adhesive products are developed in Germany with a focus on global regulations. “If a new product meets or exceeds the standards in Europe, it will also meet or exceed ASTM, EPA, TCNA, SCAQMD or similar standards around the world,” said Wolfgang Stauf, president.
According to Stauf, the biggest impact in the last 20 years has come from Europe’s environmental movement, where the Association for the Control of Emissions In Products For Flooring Installation created strict standards for adhesive emissions. “A typical resilient adhesive would emit between 2000 and 5000 mikrograms of VOCs into one cubic meter of air,” he said. “Today’s products have to be below 500, and most are below 200, so indoor air pollution has decreased to less than 10% of what it used to be.”
Rule 1168 is still the main guideline to which Mapei responds, Johnson said. The company also follows emission requirements from the Carpet and Rug Institute for related adhesive products. “LEED v4 is also important to us and has, in some cases, changed the way we purchase and select raw materials we use to make our products. Wherever possible we use rapidly renewable or recycled raw materials, and reduce hazardous ingredients without compromising performance.”
Adhesives can make the lives of installers much easier or more difficult, depending on their experiences with the product used on the job. The consensus among adhesive executives is that installer input is key to developing safe products.
As Kurtz noted, if an installer doesn’t like the smell of an adhesive, working characteristics or performance of a product, “they will try to avoid working with it in the future, so Bostik focuses heavily on any input from installers.”
Royal relies on field-testing for any new product it introduces to market. “This is the only way we can ensure it will work,” Callaham said. “Our sales team is filled with experienced installers who provide input to our lab daily.”
Installer feedback is invaluable when developing new adhesive products, Johnson said. However, he added, “their input may not be as important when developing standards, as those are politically charged topics and are heavily argued by the manufacturing community since they may directly influence manufacturers’ financial bottom lines.”
Manufacturers continue to update their products’ green benefits and performance attributes, in addition to keeping up with the latest standards. For example, DriTac recently introduced The Golden Bullet, DriTac 4141, which offers subfloor moisture control with no testing required. Lontchar said, “This 4-in-1 green sound and moisture control urethane wood adhesive has been tested and certified by CRI’s Green Label Plus program and offers zero VOCs solvents.”
Maintaining its commitment to green, Bostik continues to refine products that are better for the environment and the health of both installers and occupants, Kurtz said. The company’s Dimension grout uses recycled glass, while a new product for rubber flooring, GreenFusion2, uses 27% rapidly renewable content. Ultra-Set SingleStep and Vapor-Lock use recycled rubber that has been ground into spacers that control the thickness of the applied membrane to aid installers.