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Here, F.Ball & Co. Ltd. provides expert advice on selecting adhesives for installing vinyl floorcoverings in damp and humid environments.

When installing floorcoverings in areas such as kitchens, bathrooms or washrooms, which are prone to dampness and humidity, contractors previously have had a limited choice of adhesives to use. This is especially true when working with resilient coverings, specifically vinyls. However, recent advancements in adhesive technology have resulted in the development of high-performance, hybrid adhesives, which combine pressure-sensitive and temperature-tolerant attributes whilst being resistant to wetting. This makes them ideal for use in such environments. Nevertheless, it is still essential for contractors to properly prepare the subfloor before installing a floorcovering, including applying a damp- proof membrane where required.

Traditional choices for installing vinyl floorcoverings in areas that will be subjected to moisture include epoxy or polyurethane-based adhesives, which are effective at making areas impermeable to water, including outdoor areas and areas that may be subject to surface water.

Alongside these, there is now a water-based hybrid adhesive for installing a wide range of PVC floorcoverings, which is resistant to wetting when fully cured. This makes it suitable for use in areas subject to wet and humid conditions.

Conventional water-based adhesives would be degraded by moisture in such environments, resulting in floor failure.

This hybrid adhesive offers the familiar characteristics of pressure sensitive adhesives and develops an extremely high bond strength. This property also allows it to hold floorcoverings firmly in place in areas exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations. These include heavily glazed areas, as found in conservatories, corridors and some kitchens. Without a high bond strength between the adhesive and floorcovering, such extreme temperature fluctuations can cause vinyls to expand and contract, leading to ‘tenting’ and gapping over time.


The hybrid adhesive is also rapid curing, solvent- free and low hazard, making it particularly suitable for use in sensitive areas, including kitchens, where food is prepared, and healthcare settings.

Additionally, this adhesive can be used for installing flooring accessories

typically applied to vertical surfaces, such as skirting, capping and coving in preference to a contact adhesive. This means that contractors can now use one adhesive to install both floorcoverings and accessories, allowing them to work up the wall in areas where both are required, such as in wetrooms.

A further advantage is that, unlike contact adhesives, this hybrid adhesive only needs to be applied to one surface and allows contractors to reposition vertical flooring accessories in the initial stages of drying. It also offers an extended open time of up to four hours, and excellent plasticiser resistance makes it suitable for use with highly plasticised flooring accessories and trims.

Regardless of the watertight bond formed, it is still essential that contractors properly prepare subfloors before installing floorcoverings. This includes ensuring against floor failure as the result of subfloor moisture.

The application of a smoothing underlayment may also be necessary to ensure the subfloor is perfectly smooth and ready to receive floorcoverings. In this case, it is recommended that contractors opt to use a moisture tolerant smoothing underlayment.

For more information about which adhesives should be used with different floorcoverings in wet, damp or humid areas, contractors can consult F. Ball’s recommended adhesives guide (RAG). The guide (RAG) lists the adhesives recommended for use with floorcoverings produced by over 200 floorcovering manufacturers. It is available as a free app or a printed booklet, and can also be found on the F. Ball website.

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