Low-Odor, Quick Adhesive for Refacing

Is there a fast-setting contact cement for commercial re-facing work that does not smell bad or carry health risks? February 25, 2009

I have a large commercial re-facing coming up in three weeks. Usually I use water based adhesives for residential re-facing but I'm concerned about the drying time. The place is a retail location that will be open for business while we work so I need a spray adhesive, or a system that does not have the odor and flammability problem of the usual sprayable Willsonart glue I use in the shop. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Adhesive Forum)
From contributor R:
It’s a tough issue. You certainly do not want to use a non-flam solvent based product in a retail location. You best option may be to bring a heater and or a fan and try to force dry the water-based faster.

From the original questioner:
Why not the non flammable, does it have a lot of odor? I saw those enclosed systems that spray from what looks like a barbecue propane tank. Is that what you are talking about?

From contributor R:
I was just speaking of non-flammable solvent based contact in general (bulk or canister). Typically, these are methylene chloride based products. Methylene chloride has a very low exposure limit and because of its odor threshold, if you can smell it, you have exceeded the exposure limit. I just did not think that this was something that you would want to expose people to in a retail environment.

From contributor M:
I use Dap 2146 nonflammable. It's methelyne chloride based, but must have the highest dissipation rate possible. When I spray it, even in enclosed environments, I very seldom can smell it. It's a fantastic product.

From Jeff Pitcher, forum technical advisor:
Contributor R's right, you don't want to use a methylene chloride based product in this situation (canister or not). Your best bet is a good water based contact cement. You should be able to allow for the extra dry time by changing the way you do the job.

From the original questioner:
As kind of a final word (at least from me) I used the conbond green label product. Yes, like many of the products we use professionally and in everyday life it is considered toxic to some extent.

As a Sears re-facer I have experience with water based products. On small jobs they are great because they are non flammable and considered safer than the VOC spray-ables like conbond. But the time it takes the stuff to flash is long (relative humidity is the key here).

On a commercial job requiring over 30 sheets of laminate it would take too long to complete. Plus I'm not comfortable using the water based product over laminate that was originally stuck with a solvent based product.

My experience however with the green label was mixed. The product sprayed well and was almost odorless. It was not as effective as the spray-able Wilsonart contact that I dispense from a pressure pot in my shop. (By the way also toxic, and also widely used. As always proper ventilation is the key).

We scuffed the original laminate with a belt sander, then sprayed the green label. The stuff just seemed to rub off the laminate very easily. We decided to shelf the green label and try the water based, but it didn’t take long to realize that waiting for it to dry would blow our estimate out of the water, so we went back to the green label.

Our concern about the adhesives ability to stick to the original laminate seems to be unfounded. It does not stick as well as the Wilsonart, but it does the job. It seems you have to give up some of the performance to get the non-flammability and the low odor. Coincidentally I am meeting with a technical rep from the manufacturer tomorrow at my shop. If I learn anything useful I will post it in this forum.

Also, I noticed that few of the postings on this string referenced firsthand experience with re-facing in a commercial environment. I'm sure that this is only an over-site as no reputable cabinetmaker, re-facer or millwright in his or her right mind would post a response without first having multiple experiences with the original question.