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)?

  • Is this 2part or 1 part adhesive it makes a difference.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 13 '18 at 2:15

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.


*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.

  • Do you have any references for this information?
    – Edwin
    Jan 21 '14 at 17:33
  • @Edwin A quick search turns this up. Permabond Company Blog, Glossary of Cure Time Terms
    – Tester101
    Jan 21 '14 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 '14 at 18:17
  • 1
    "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 '14 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 '14 at 18:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.