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Ask Dr. Dave

March 1, 2010
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Adhesive and sealant troubleshooting tips from Dr. Dave Dunn.

Question: My house, which was built in 1976, has linoleum flooring. The seams are lifting and I’d like to clean and re-glue them, but I’m having trouble finding the original glues for this material. Do you have any recommendations?  

Answer: The term “linoleum” was coined in the early 20th century for flooring materials based on linseed oil. However, genuine linoleum was replaced by vinyl-based flooring (PVC) in the 1950s, and your 1976 floor is almost certainly vinyl based. You should ensure that the seams are completely cleaned of dirt and residue before attempting a repair. You may also want to experiment with heating the seams carefully with a hair dryer or heat gun to soften the vinyl and make if lay flat.

Most current adhesives for this application are water-based formulations based on acrylic or SBR emulsions. You will need to apply weight to the edge of the seams to hold the linoleum down while it dries, but avoid putting the weight across the seams in case excess adhesive comes out of the joint. You should be able to find many such adhesive products at a hardware store or home center. Interestingly, genuine linoleum was recently re-introduced because it is based on natural materials, thus making it “green.”

Question: Can you give me some information about aldehyde-amine types of accelerator-based formulations used in the adhesive industry?

Answer: I believe you’re referring to the accelerators (or activators) used in reactive acrylic adhesives. These are based on the condensation products of amines and aldehydes, the most common of which is the condensation product of butyraldehyde and aniline. These types of products were originally used as vulcanization accelerators for rubbers, but it was discovered in the 1970s that they were suitable for accelerating the cure of rubber-toughened adhesives, particularly those based on chlorosulfonated polyethylene rubber. For many years, purified forms of these accelerators were only available from one company, but more suppliers offer them now. I authored an article on reactive acrylic adhesives for the March 2003 issue of this magazine, which is available on the ASI Web site, www.adhesivesmag.com.

Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of ASI, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.

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