Flooring Adhesive Guide

Flooring adhesives can be very confusing to understand with technical terms and chemical compounds. When installing vinyl and engineered hardwood, you can opt to glue down your flooring. Each material will require different adhesion properties. It is recommended you use the manufacturer specific adhesive for your application. Not using a specified product could void your warranty and be un-suitable for the flooring.

Types of Floors That Need Adhesive

  • Glue-Down Vinyl – Glue-down vinyl needs vinyl flooring adhesive to lay the planks securely.
  • Loose Lay Vinyl – It is recommended to use adhesive around the perimeter of loose lay vinyl.
  • Engineered Hardwood – One of the best ways to install an engineered hardwood is with an adhesive.
  • Tile Flooring – Tile flooring is grouted with an adhesive.
  • Laminate Flooring – Laminate flooring should only use sealant on joints and edges to waterproof the locking system. They should not be adhered to the subfloor.

Types of Adhesive

  • Polyurethane Based: These adhesives are extremely common with wood flooring applications, but are also used with other flooring installations. The adhesive forms a chemical bond with wood cells, but a mechanical bond with concrete. These bonds are strong and elastic. A urethane based adhesive is moisture proof once cured. These are generally low VOCs.
  • Acrylic Based: Acrylic adhesives are resin-based. These adhesives are very strong and efficient at bonding many different surfaces. They are most widely used with tile, stone and LVT/vinyl products. These adhesives are sun resistant, withstand temperature fluctuations and are not easily disrupted by moisture.
  • Water Based: These adhesives are generally lower in VOC content and are therefore slightly better for both the interior and overall environment, also more of a “green adhesive” to use. Another perk to this type of adhesive is the easy of cleaning it off the flooring and other surfaces it may have gotten on. One con is the moisture content — too much moisture can cause the bond to become weak.


  • Dry Time: This information will be detailed on your adhesive. This signifies the rate of which you will need to work and the amount of adhesive you will need to prepare per time frame. This will also give you the amount of time needed before walking on the flooring.
  • Consistency: Most adhesives will need to be mixed on site. The consistency is important to determine the bonding and spreading of the adhesive. A too thin consistency can be hard to work with, while a thick mixture can be tough to spread.
  • Coverage: Like a flooring installation, you should consider a waste factor into your adhesive purchasing. Consider the size and shape of your space and add about 10% for waste.
  • Shelf Life: If you are planning multiple projects or have a time frame to get certain rooms done, the shelf life might be a factor to consider. Some adhesives can be stored for years, while others can only be stored at premium quality for a few days.
  • Clean Up: Installations can get messy! The last thing you want is your flooring ruined by spilled adhesive. Water based glues will be the easiest to remove, but each adhesive will give detailed instructions on how to clean the glues off the flooring.
  • Color: Depending on the flooring, the color of your adhesive may be a factor in your installation. If you need to have grout, be sure to choose a tinted adhesive to match your flooring. All other applications should not have any adhesive showing, and color will not be a factor to consider.
  • Tools: You will need some additional tools for a glue-down flooring installation. This generally includes a trowel and a 100 lb. roller.

Use Manufacturer Recommended Adhesive

This cannot be mentioned enough. To ensure the best adhesion with your flooring, it is important to use the manufacturer recommended adhesives. This will also uphold your warranty and any claims that need to be made. Not using the specified adhesives could lead to numerous problems.

Want to learn more about flooring adhesive? Contact one of our flooring experts today!

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