Best Adhesive for Laminate Flooring on Plywood

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    LESLIE: Steve in Nevada has got a project he’s working on, looking for an adhesive for laminate flooring. Tell us about it.

    STEVE: I was building a chair mat out of 5-foot by 5-foot piece of plywood, in which I laminated – I glued some laminate flooring on.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: Unfortunately, the Liquid Nails didn’t quite hold and I think I know why. I think I put it down when it was cold and I clamped it so tight that the air didn’t get at it. Finally, it took weeks to dry and it dried and it held.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    STEVE: What’s the best laminate – best adhesive for laminate flooring going on plywood?

    TOM: Well, typically, you don’t use an adhesive for laminate flooring going on plywood.

    LESLIE: It just kind of floats there.

    TOM: Yeah, most laminates today have a lock-together joint and they just float there. And you leave a ¼-inch gap between the floor and the wall, then you put trim over top of it.

    STEVE: OK. But see, my system – my situation is unique. I live in an apartment. I’ve got a medium-pile rug with a soft pad underneath.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: Every kind of expensive floor mat under the sun cracks. And you can ask anybody at the floor-supply store.

    TOM: Oh, I see what you’re saying. Yeah.

    STEVE: Because what it is, the pressure of the wheels – it’s like the size of your baby’s fingernail – it cracks all the plastic.

    TOM: Yeah. Right.

    STEVE: So I went through buying $200 ¼-inch-thick PVC mats. I throw them all away.

    TOM: Didn’t work, huh? Yeah.

    STEVE: What I finally did was build out my own mat out of 5-foot by 5-foot plywood with laminate flooring.

    TOM: Right.

    STEVE: That’s the best thing of all. It rolled nice. I got it to match my carpet. But the thing is, next time when I glue it, what should I use to glue the laminate to the plywood? Because you have to glue it because it’s just a little island in the middle of the room, you know?

    TOM: OK. So does the laminate interlock? Did you have a type of laminate where it locks together?

    STEVE: Yeah. It does interlock, yep. But remember, I’m rolling the chair on this, too: a 55-pound chair with a 150-pound guy. So there’s a lot of pressure – lateral pressure – on this, too.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean I would have thought a construction adhesive for laminate flooring would work. Contact cement will work but it depends on how difficult it is for you to assemble these pieces. Because contact cement is just that: once you make contact, it doesn’t come apart.

    STEVE: Right, right.

    TOM: Have you ever worked with contact cement?

    STEVE: Yeah, I have, believe it or not.

    TOM: Well, you apply it to both surfaces. And they have a lot – but they have a lot of different formulations of that, so …

    STEVE: Oh, I didn’t know that.

    TOM: Oh, yeah. And also, in your case, I suspect that the problem wasn’t the plywood; the problem was the laminate floor, because it’s a laminate.

    STEVE: Yeah. Right.

    TOM: So, it’s not going to stick. It has nothing to really grab onto. So that’s why it (inaudible) …

    STEVE: Yeah, I roughed it up with a sander, too. I used a medium-grit sandpaper and I sanded every – the back.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah.

    STEVE: Because you’re right: it’s kind of a shiny, glossy finish and you’ve got to get that off, too.

    TOM: Yeah. How big is this piece when it’s all done? How big is your pad?

    STEVE: OK. It’s actually 50x55x67. I made it big so I can roll the chair back. But it actually came out pretty nice.

    TOM: What if you were to assemble this entire 50×50 square upside-down, right? So the good side is facing down on a big workbench or a very flat area of the floor, right?

    STEVE: That way, yeah.

    TOM: And then once it was all locked together and perfectly square, then you coated the whole square with contact cement as an adhesive for laminate flooring and you coated the plywood with contact cement. You get a buddy and you drop it in one time, being very careful to get it lined up right. Flip it over and you’re good to go.

    And then what you might want to do as a final step is to trim the edge. And if it doesn’t line up just perfect, like around the outside edge, don’t worry about it. I’d go so far as to make it an inch wider and an inch longer than what I needed. And then when it was glued together …

    STEVE: Oh, yeah. We did. We routed the edges, sir. Yep. We routed the edges, too.

    TOM: Right. Well, what I was going to say is that I’d make it an inch bigger all the way around. And then I would take my circular saw and make four clean cuts so that the edges of the laminate and the edge of the plywood aligns perfectly. Then you could put a nice piece of trim around it.

    Say, however you want to do it, that’s fine. But I think contact cement – which has a little give to it and is really tough stuff — would be a good adhesive for laminate flooring. And I wouldn’t use the water-based. I’d use the good stuff. Use the solvent-based.

    STEVE: Oh, OK. Use the one that really stinks. That’s the one that – the strongest one.

    TOM: Alright? Yep. Really stinks.

    STEVE: Right, right.

    TOM: The smellier the better.

    STEVE: Right.

    TOM: Well, good luck with that project. That sounds like a fun project and I’m glad you finally figured it out.

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