There are many types of wallcovering adhesives, each formulated for various performance characteristics. These characteristics fall in two general categories:
- How they bond the wallcovering to the wall surface
- How they apply to the wallcovering (this is a major consideration for the installer).
Wallcovering adhesives are formulated for specific applications. Some adhesives are formulated for lightweight and delicate fabrics while others are designed to adhere heavyweight vinyl and acoustical coverings.
Adhesives vary in level of wet-tack, solids, open-time, strippability and ease of application. Virtually all wallcovering adhesives contain a biocide system. These systems are designed to prevent bacteria contamination and mildew/fungal infestation both "in-the-can" and in the dried adhesive. Wallcovering adhesives are generally applied on the back of the wallcovering either by roller or pasting machine. However, nonwoven and acoustical wallcoverings may require the adhesive be applied to the wall using a brush or roller. Consult the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
There are four main categories of adhesives:
- Prepasted Activators - were created to assist in the hanging of prepasted wallcoverings by activating the existing adhesive, increasing slip and extending the open-time available (helpful when matching patterns). Using activators is generally considered less messy, minimizes seam splitting and reduces seam lifting.
- Clear Adhesives - are most often corn or wheat based. They are generally considered to have more open-time and are easier to clean-up than clay-based adhesives. Clear adhesives are designed for both the retail customer and commercial installer.
- Clay Adhesives - like clear adhesives, clay adhesives include starches, but are clay based which increases the wet-tack and level of solids. Clay adhesives are generally not recommended for retail customers. They are considered to have a higher level of wet-tack and are more difficult to clean up versus clear adhesives.
- Vinyl-Over-Vinyl - and border adhesives contain synthetic polymers and are specifically formulated to bond to vinyl. In addition to the synthetic polymers, these adhesives may contain some starch and other ingredients to assist in their application. These adhesives require extra attention during application because once they are dried they are permanent. Vinyl-over-vinyl adhesives are specifically designed to hang new wallcoverings to existing wallcoverings or borders to wallcoverings.
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