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Most floor adhesives specify open time and working time. The instructions on the can of glue do not spell out the meaning of these terms. Looking on the Internet yields ambiguous results.

To my best understanding, as of now:

Open time -- minimum required time from when adhesive is applied to when installation can begin.

Working time -- maximum allowed time for installation to complete, from start to end. Or is it from the time when adhesive is applied (thereby, including open time)?

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1 Answer 1

Open Time*

  1. The amount of time the adhesive should be left to set, before it is covered.

    If you're gluing two sticks together, with an adhesive with 30 seconds open time. You should apply the glue to one stick, then wait at least 30 seconds before affixing the second stick.

  2. The amount of time the adhesive can be left before it is covered.

    If you're gluing two sticks together, with an adhesive with 30 seconds open time. You should apply the glue to one stick, and affix the second stick before 30 seconds has elapsed.

Working Time

The amount of time from when the adhesive has set, to the time it will no longer bond.

Again gluing two sticks together, this time with an adhesive with a 5 minute working time. Once you apply the glue to the first stick, you have to affix and position the second stick in less than 5 minutes. If you don't affix the sticks within this time, the adhesive will not bond (or at least is not guaranteed to bond).

Set Time

The amount of time the adhesive needs to form a good bond.

Back to the sticks, this time with an adhesive with a 10 minute set time. Now that the sticks are affixed, you'll have to wait 10 minutes before they are adequately stuck together.

Pot Life

The amount of time an adhesive can remain viable after being mixed.

If you're gluing the sticks using a 2 part epoxy, with a pot life of 2 hours. Once you mix the epoxy, you have 2 hours to use it before it becomes useless.

Notes

*Some manufacturers use open time, and working time interchangeably. Open time should only be assumed to be different than working time, when working with adhesives that need to activate or set before being usable.

After doing more research, it appears there really isn't a set vocabulary used throughout the industry. Your best bet would be to contact the manufacturer, and ask them what they mean.

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Do you have any references for this information? –  Edwin Jan 21 at 17:33
    
@Edwin A quick search turns this up. Permabond Company Blog, Glossary of Cure Time Terms –  Tester101 Jan 21 at 17:43
    
From my experience with subfloor adhesives, the second definition of open time applies. You have a certain amount of time to put the board down and then some more time to finish nailing or screwing. –  Edwin Jan 21 at 18:17
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"Resilient sheet flooring may be placed into adhesive after 10–20 minutes open time (flash-off) over a porous substrate.". Shaw 4100 Resilient Flooring Adhesive (PDF) –  Tester101 Jan 21 at 18:25
    
Clearly, working time is different from open time, when both are mentioned in the instructions with different time values. I see that your definition of working time includes open time implicitly, but the example with sticks does not mention open time. Is this what you meant? That working includes open? –  user443854 Jan 21 at 18:37

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