In order to study the adsorption mechanism of Hg on Au and Ag substrates, thin film Au(111) and Ag(111) substrates were exposed to gaseous metallic mercury, while the mercury concentration, substrate temperature, and exposure length were varied. The resulting changes in the surface morphology of the substrates were studied with scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). The amount of adsorbed Hg required to cause saturation, i.e. a decrease in the adsorption rate was found to be dependent on the mercury concentration and substrate temperature. The observations lead to the conclusion that the adsorption includes place exchange processes and concerted adsorption of more than one Hg atom in one process. The results show that the collection efficiency of single-crystalline surfaces is a function of both mercury concentration and temperature. Therefore, results from measurements performed at different conditions using single-crystalline surfaces may not be comparable.