What is Carpet Glue?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Carpet glue is an adhesive product which is designed to be used in carpet installations. Numerous companies manufacture these adhesives, including some carpet manufacturers which produce specialty glues to go with their products. Home supply and hardware stores usually carry this adhesive product or can order it for their customers, and people can also order it in bulk directly from manufacturers.

Carpet glue works under the carpet to hold it in place.
Carpet glue works under the carpet to hold it in place.

While carpeting does not necessarily need to be glued when it is installed, carpet glue can greatly improve the quality of a carpet installation. Glue will prevent slippage, keeping the carpet in place over time, and it can help the carpet last longer. It can also be very useful for installations like stairs, where carpet tacks alone would not be able to withstand years of routine use. Adhesives are also used for carpet installations in settings like cars, where the carpet must adhere to curved contours rather than just lying flat.

Any glue left after carpet removal can typically be sanded away.
Any glue left after carpet removal can typically be sanded away.

In carpet repairs, carpet glue can be extremely useful. When repairs involve swapping out damaged patches of carpeting for new ones, this glue can make the repair seamless and clean, and ensure that the replacement spot blends in better with the existing carpet. People may also use carpet adhesives for quick carpet repairs, such as holding down a piece of carpeting which has become loose.

Carpet glue can be used on all sorts of carpet installations.
Carpet glue can be used on all sorts of carpet installations.

In addition to being used indoors on all sorts of carpet installations, carpet glue can also be used with outdoor carpeting and specialty products like marine carpeting. For outdoor or indoor-outdoor installations, it is important to purchase the right glue to ensure that the glue will hold up in the long term, especially in wet environments. Adhesives designed for the outdoors are much tougher and less soluble, and they can adhere to a wide variety of subfloors including concrete and wood.

Using carpet glue is recommended in rooms with wall-to-wall carpeting.
Using carpet glue is recommended in rooms with wall-to-wall carpeting.

As people who have taken up carpeting have noted, this glue can be very difficult to remove. One of the most effective ways to remove carpet glue is to use a heat gun to soften it so that it can be scraped up. Other people go the opposite way, freezing the glue with dry ice to make it brittle so that it can be chipped away. It can also be hardened and sanded away, and solvents designed for adhesives can be used to take up any lingering traces of adhesive. These processes can all be very messy and odoriferous, and it is important to do them with proper ventilation and face protection.

Padding glue is used to prevent movement from underneath carpet once it has been installed.
Padding glue is used to prevent movement from underneath carpet once it has been installed.
Padding glue may be used to install carpet on stairs.
Padding glue may be used to install carpet on stairs.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon973248

What glue should I use in installing automobile carpet in a car?

anon156113

Yes, it can cause sick building syndrome and you can develop life threatening illnesses. Don't freak out, though -- just keep it aired out.

anon108689

It is unlikely the smell is from carpet adhesive. If an exterior grade construction adhesive was used (and it should not have been) that could be the smell you still notice. Presently, most carpet adhesives have such low VOC content it is unlikely that is the cause.

If you or BF have a friend in construction, I would bet they could figure it out for you. Or, ask the landlord who the contractor was who did the work on your place.

anon83254

I just recently moved into an apartment and there is a strong chemical smell in the living room and kitchen. My boyfriend thinks that it is carpet glue because the carpets have just been replaced. Will this smell ever go away? It has been two weeks already since we've moved in. Is it hazardous to our health?

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