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How do you avoid fumes when selecting contact cement?

Spread water-based contact cement evenly on your substrate. When the adhesive becomes tacky, apply the plastic laminate, and then press it down firmly with clamps and cauls.

Q:

I’ve always used solvent-based contact cement, but I’m wondering if I should switch to a water-based version to avoid the fumes. What do you recommend?
—Paul Allen, Anaheim, Calif.

A:

Go with the water-based product, Paul. It provides the same bonding strength, reduces your exposure to toxic chemicals, and cleans up easily. In one solvent-based contact cement, the hazardous material toluene accounts for as much as 60% of the product by weight. In a comparable water-based contact cement, toluene is no more than 5% of the total. Apply the cement with a foam roller, notched trowel, or utility brush, and then clean your tools with soap and water. Wait 30 to 45 minutes before assembly—about twice as long as you would with the solvent type—until the cement looks glossy and feels tacky. In cool (below 65° F) and humid weather, plan to wait even longer.

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