How to Choose the Perfect Flooring Adhesive

Adhesives are integral to the flooring installation process when using the glue-down method. In fact, the quality of your flooring adhesive plays a vital role in determining your floor’s longevity.

Plus, you can’t just choose any adhesive available on the market because each flooring material requires different adhesion properties. Not using the suitable one can void your flooring’s warranty and compromise its performance.

Need advice? Use this guide to pick the right flooring adhesive.

Flooring Adhesives: How to Pick the Right One

Different flooring materials require different types of adhesive. Not using the right kind can cause the material to loosen from the subfloor.

To pick the perfect adhesive for your flooring, use our guide. But first, let’s learn about the different types of flooring adhesive.

Types of Flooring Adhesive


Water-based adhesive

Water-based adhesives are a popular choice among eco-conscious customers due to their low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions. Made from a combination of water, polymers, and additives, they are ideal for porous and non-porous substrates alike. Their best feature is that they’re easily cleaned off floors and other surfaces. However, water-based adhesives are not suitable for use in rooms with high humidity levels as exposure to excess moisture can weaken the bond.


Polyurethane Based Adhesives

Polyurethane-based adhesives are commonly used with wood flooring applications. They are preferred for high-strength constructions because they develop a chemical bond with both concrete and wood, creating a strong yet flexible hold. The highlight of this flooring adhesive is that it is moisture resistant.


Acrylic Adhesives

Typically used for luxury vinyl flooring, tiles and stones, this flooring adhesive is resin-based. These adhesives are resistant to moisture and sun, and can withstand temperature fluctuations. They form a strong bond with many different surfaces, thus ensuring stable and durable floors.


What to Consider When Choosing Flooring Adhesives

Think about these important factors to pick out the best adhesive for your flooring project.

1) Dry Time

Dry Time

It’s essential to consider the amount of time the flooring adhesive takes to dry. This helps determine how long the project will take to complete and when you will be able to walk on the flooring. It also determines the speed at which you’ll need to work and the amount of adhesive needed to prepare for each work session.

It is worth noting that different adhesive brands have different cure times and that a room’s humidity level and temperature also affect drying time.

2) Location

Choosing Flooring Adhesives Based on Location

Your choice of flooring adhesive also depends on where you’re installing it. Interior installations are not subject to rain and other weather damage; exterior installations are. If you’re picking adhesives for exterior use, it’s best to choose one that can handle rain, sun, snow, and cold. Some adhesives do better in freezing temperatures while others are formulated to withstand a warm, humid environment.

3) Subfloor


You should consider what your subfloor is made from when selecting flooring adhesive. This is because not all adhesives bond well with all types of subflooring. For example, dry at- or above-grade concrete will require a different bonding material than below-grade concrete. There are also adhesives particularly formulated for plywood subflooring.

4) Coverage

Flooring Adhesive Coverage Area

The estimated area a flooring adhesive will cover is extremely important because this determines what amount of glue will be used and what amount wasted. To make that calculation, consider the size of the space, then add 10% for waste.

5) Consistency


The consistency of your flooring adhesive refers to how well it loads on a trowel. This determines the ease of application, bonding, and spreading. The adhesive should neither be too thin nor too thick. The former can be it hard to work with; the latter can make it tough to spread the glue.

6) Clean Up

Clean Up

Cleaning up adhesives is challenging. That’s why you should take into account how easy they are to clean. For example, water-based adhesives are easier than solvent-based glues to clean but are susceptible to moisture damage.

If you’re putting in flooring in a room not prone to flooding or one without high humidity levels, choose a water-based adhesive for effortless cleaning.

7) Off-Gassing


Many flooring adhesives have toxic materials that may off-gas and contaminate your indoor air quality. It is advisable to choose glues with low levels of VOCs to guarantee a clean and healthy environment inside your home or office.

To make sure your flooring is easy to install and stays well for many years, you need to choose a suitable adhesive. Without one, you can end up voiding your flooring materials’ warranty and living with an imperfect installation. Consult a flooring installation expert to learn about the types of adhesives and which is right for your flooring project.

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