How to use a construction adhesive | Pro Construction Guide

How to use a construction adhesive

How to use a construction adhesive

Different surfaces require a specific construction adhesive designed for the purpose

Many materials you work with today can’t be joined with nails, staples or screws. Plastic, marble, granite, tub and shower surrounds, artificial stone fascia and many other surfaces require a specific construction adhesive that is designed for the purpose.

As construction adhesives have grown in popularity in these applications, professionals are finding using adhesives is often faster and less labor intensive for joining surfaces that can accept mechanical fasteners, such as wood, drywall, etc. Then when the job is finished, there are no nail holes to fill, finish or prime.

Adhesives, typically available in caulking tubes, are designed for specific jobs and materials. Choosing the best construction adhesive for your job is easy – manufacturers list the uses for their products right on the labels. And while it may be tempting to use a single adhesive in a variety of projects, you’ll get the best results when you use an adhesive developed for the material you are working with. For example, some products work well indoors, but can’t withstand the extremes of outside installations. Other construction adhesives work well with wood and other building materials, but can stain or etch granite or marble.

To match a construction adhesive to your job and working style, you might want a clear formulation that dries clear so application skills aren’t as important. For easy cleanup, pick an adhesive that cleans up with water (before it cures). Some adhesives get tacky faster so there is less need to brace or clamp the materials together. On the other hand, you may want to use a construction adhesive that cures more slowly, allowing you to reposition the materials.

Heavy duty construction adhesive

Heavy duty construction adhesive is ideal for a variety of surfaces, and can be used outside and indoors. Common uses include installing countertops, cabinets, brick veneer, plywood and oriented strand board (OSB), foil insulation board, tileboard, treated lumber, drywall and most common building materials (concrete, lumber, etc.). Benefits of these tough adhesives include exceptional holding power, excellent gap filling, ability to bond heavy materials, durability and flexibility, ease of use at low temperatures, and water and weather resistance. In many applications, heavy-duty construction adhesives are so strong they will outlast the job itself.

Indoor construction adhesive

For interior projects using foamboard, drywall, molding, paneling, plywood, masonry/concrete, corkboard or furring strips use an indoor construction adhesive. These products won’t attack foam insulation or run or drip during installation, and they quickly becomine tacky to help hold materials in place for easier application and clean-up.

Extreme temperature subfloor & deck adhesive

An extreme temperature subfloor & deck adhesive actually increases the structural integrity of the wall, deck or subfloor, including plywood, OSB, particleboard, lumber and treated lumber. This adhesive prevents squeaking, bridges gaps, bonds wet or frozen lumber, applies easily in cold weather, and can be used outside and indoors.

Solid surface materials adhesive

To bond marble, granite, cultured and engineered stone to wood, drywall, painted surfaces, chipboard and concrete backerboard use an adhesive designed specifically for the material. Be sure the adhesive you select is heat and water resistant, creates a high-strength bond, cures quickly, and won’t stain the surface (especially important if you are working with marble or granite).

Tub surround & shower wall adhesives

Use a tub surround & shower wall adhesive to bond plastic, fiberglass and foamback tub and shower surrounds to drywall, cement backerboard, ceramic tile, plywood or greenboard. Ideal for most fiberglass and plastic units, this adhesive type has a low odor during installation and it is water, heat and steam resistant.

Fiberglass reinforced plastic panel adhesives

The best way to adhere fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) panels to cured concrete, cement backerboard, drywall, wood or greenboard is with an adhesive specifically designed for the panels. This adhesive has superior gap filling abilities, excellent initial tack to hold panels in place, spreads easily and won’t burn through FRP panels.

Application basics

Construction adhesives are applied either by running a bead or troweling. Using a caulk gun to apply a bead of adhesive is the most economical and is typically used for bonding materials to large flat surfaces. Common uses of this method are installing plastic tub surrounds over drywall or ceramic tile, installing wood paneling to any smooth wall and attaching drywall to studs.

Troweling on the adhesive for full coverage is important when the material to be bonded is small, such as ceramic tile, or on projects where a solid surface is required.

To help determine how much construction adhesive you’ll need for a particular project, try the Liquid Nails Adhesive Calculator.


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