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Steve Grimwood – Back to Basics – Part Two

In the second part of Osmo’s back to basics column, Steve Grimwood, Managing Director of Osmo UK, discusses why flooring adhesives shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to specifying the best products for a project…..

It is commonplace – indeed, I would suggest, essential – that contractors consider the type of wood (oak, pine, teak, mahogany, bamboo etc) to be specified for any project depending on the use to which that wood is being put.  No more would you specify an exotic wood such as Jatoba to floor a family bathroom as you would specify unpainted pine for window frames.  Equally, contractors are increasingly aware of the best uses for different finishes, whether oil-based, water-based or lacquers.  However, when it comes to choosing the type of adhesive to be used, many contractors just reach for the nearest tub or whatever is in stock.

Perhaps a possible reason for this reluctance to specify a particular product is a lack of understanding as to the options, perhaps it is simply that one doesn’t see the adhesive so it is ‘out of mind’ unlike the more visible end-result products.  However, choosing the most appropriate adhesive is an essential part of the specification process that requires attention. At the end of the day – what’s the point of choosing the best wood for your floor and applying it with the best finish, if you not going to worry about choosing the correct glue which if chosen wrong could lead to movement of the wood.

The Choice is huge…

These days there are so many adhesives available on the market that it can be a challenge to find the most suitable product for each installation.  As well as different formulas for different floorcoverings such as carpet, vinyl, linoleum, rubber and timber, there are also various products available within each section.  Selecting the most appropriate adhesive is essential to ensure the long-term performance of a wood floor and avoid costly remedial work.

Two options in this market that cover most requirements of customers include MS Polymer adhesives and modified PU adhesives (SPUR).  These two glues have a number of properties in common – both are permanently elastic and do not contain any water or solvents.  This permanent elasticity means that the adhesives follow the movements of the wood – as the wood expands and shrinks due to moisture, the elasticity of these adhesives allow them to remain in place.  The elasticity element ensures that any pressure applied to the subfloor is spread evenly as well as providing a contact sound installation effect.  Both adhesives stick excellently to all sorts of substrates without the need for a primer.

The qualities of SPUR adhesives and polymer adhesives mean that they can be deployed for many types of wood, including moisture-sensitive and less stable sorts of wood.  The adhesives can also be used for glueing wider floorboards, something which to this day was a risky business.  These adhesives are set by means of a chemical reaction. Once set, an elastic non-shrinking film is created which is resistant to moisture and heat and which also has excellent adhesive strength on practically all building materials.  Since these adhesives do not contain any water or solvents, the risk of warping is minimal.

Once contractors have specified the adhesive, they then face the issue of applying the product correctly.  There is more to simply rolling the adhesive on the subfloor.  For a start, contractors need to have the right type of trowel – I would suggest selecting one which has wide teeth along the bottom. This offers two benefits.  One, it allows the adhesive to be spread evenly over the surface which makes the glue go further.  Secondly, it creates groves when applied, which means that the grab is better with the wooden floor.

Concluding this topic, I believe that adhesives are just as important as any other factor of flooring.  Always consider what the floorcovering is, where it is being installed and what the best adhesive is to use for the particular environment.

Osmo UK is the exclusive distributor of Taylor adhesives in the UK.  For more information, call Osmo UK on 01296 481220 or visit

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