When you begin your DIY remodeling career, you have the misguided notion that everything has to be done according to the book. Then you begin to see that there are many shortcuts that make your life easier. Construction adhesive is one such shortcut. Once you learn about it, it’s like the genie in the bottle. There’s no going back. See how construction adhesive can be both a blessing and a curse for the DIY home remodeler.
Construction Adhesive – In Brief
Construction adhesive is meant to be used as a bonding supplement for materials that are already bonded, not as the sole means of adhesion. Liquid Nails, that consumer-friendly construction adhesive, diplomatically says that its product’s use is “to create a more durable bond with fewer fasteners.”
Official Uses of Construction Adhesive
Construction adhesive manufacturers say things like “bonds plywood to drywall” but are silent on the matter of actual, real-world applications. They leave that up to you. In the official sense, construction adhesive is used for bonding:
- Subflooring to joists
- Drywall to wall studs when using drywall nails, not drywall screws
- Paneling, tileboard, and any other thin panel-type material to walls
- Exterior masonry
Unofficial and Less-Than-Kosher Ways to Use Construction Adhesive
- Sticking a towel rack on a bathroom wall
- Random manufactured stone veneer brick/stone units that fall off (easier than mixing up a batch of MSV mortar)
- Sticking foam insulation sheets in place between studs
- The occasional piece of millwork (baseboard, door trim/casing, crown molding) that just will not stick with conventional methods, either the entire piece or part of a piece that is already stuck in place
- The occasional ceramic tile that comes loose
Accountability in Home Remodeling: Pro vs. Self
As noted above, pretty much any use where construction adhesive is the only means of bonding the materials is a bad thing. Home remodeling is not supposed to work like that. If you hire a handyman to install towel racks in your bathroom and the handyman used construction adhesive to stick the racks on the wall–no screws–you would have him redo it.
But you’re doing this for yourself and you have only yourself to be accountable to. You have only two areas of accountability to be concerned about:
Will the Material Stay Stuck?
Yes, it probably will. If not, make sure that it’s not material you care about or that there are no major safety concerns. Trim or a towel rack falling down is no big deal. You would want to avoid sticking a bookcase laden with books above the baby’s crib with construction adhesive.
How Much Damage Will I Cause When Removing It?
This really is your biggest concern: can you undo what you did? Screws are great in that way because they inflict little damage when you reverse-remodel. Construction glue is forever. Anything stuck to drywall with construction adhesive will pull off drywall paper and a thin layer of gypsum when you pull it off. If the materials are wood + wood, you may end up ripping off pieces of wood to undo your work.