Glues are adhesives that bond materials together. These sticky substances come in a wide range of varieties with various qualities and strengths.
You can bond almost anything with the right type of glue. To get the best results, pick the right adhesive for the materials you're working with, and pay attention to recommended curing times to create the strongest bonds.
In this article, we'll cover the main types of glue, what glue type is best for different materials, and how to use the various types of glue.
Craft adhesive is your standard, garden variety white glue. It's great for paper projects, it can hold small items together reasonably well, and it's easy to clean up if you make a mistake or a mess. Craft glue tends to be waterproof and non-toxic, which makes it a go-to choice for working with kids.
On the downside, craft glue isn't very strong. Anything load-bearing is out of the question, and more significant home projects are probably not a great fit.
For the best connections, clean and dry your crafting surfaces before applying glue. This is a general good practice for all types of adhesive.
Wood Glue on Amazon
Moving up a notch, wood glue is a good fit for some light to medium-weight carpentry and construction projects. It can bond pieces of furniture or finishing work together, for example, and act as a filler for fixing some scratches and holes.
Wood glue comes in three primary varieties: polyvinyl acetate (PVA), polyurethane, and hide.
Wood glue typically sets within a few hours, but setting it in a clamp for a full day can help you guarantee a firm bond.
The lightest variety is hide glue, which is common in furniture and cabinets. This can lose much of its bonding power if it gets wet, so it's not a good choice for areas with high moisture content.
PVA is the normative standard for wood glue. It's great at connecting two pieces of wood, but it won't do as well with non-porous surfaces like plastic, glass, or metal.
Finally, polyurethane is a good choice for outdoor areas, kitchens, and bathrooms, since it can create a strong connection between wood and other materials like tile, plastic, and stone.
Other kinds of wood glues include stabilizing glue for rotted wood, quick-drying epoxy cement, and type-II water-resistant adhesive.
Most wood glues are pourable, but you can find them in glue sticks and pens if you prefer.
3. Construction Adhesive
Construction Adhesive on Amazon
For projects that require high durability, weather resistance, and weight support, construction adhesives are a good choice. Specifics vary by brand, but many construction adhesives can bond well to sheets of wood, foam, and plastic.
This heavy duty glue tends to come in tubes, and it often needs to be spread out with a scraping instrument like a putty knife. You can get specific varieties for various materials, including vinyl, stone, and ceramics, but most construction adhesives are designed for either indoor or outdoor use.
4. Super Glue
The phrase super glue usually refers to cyanoacrylate, a powerful, quick-setting adhesive that can bond a wide range of materials including plastic, rubber, metal, and ceramics.
This glue is great for small home and auto projects because it's typically waterproof, it dries clear, and it often doesn't require fasteners to hold the pieces you're connecting in place. Depending on the project, you can apply super glue from a squeeze tube, a push point applicator, or a brush.
One thing to watch out for is that super glue can be toxic, so you shouldn't use it on food goods, and it's not a great choice for crafting with kids. It's also famously difficult to get off skin and out of hair, so wear gloves and put long hair up while you use it.
Super glue can be combined with sodium bicarbonate or baking soda to make a durable filler adhesive useful with very porous materials such as polystyrene foam. Very resistant to water, super glue is also used in underwater applications, as in fish tanks and aquariums.
5. Rubber Cement
Rubber cement, AKA rubber glue, is made from elastic polymers combined with a solvent such as hexane or acetone to maintain fluidity. Rubber glue is considered a drying adhesive because the solvents evaporate quickly, leaving behind the rubber or elastic solids which form the bond between materials.
Due to the flexibility of the resulting bond, rubber glue is most commonly used for arts, crafts, and other light adhesive work. Rubber glue is especially useful in applications where you want to protect items you're connecting during eventual separation, since it won't damage most materials when removed.
Rubber glues made with certain non-toxic solvents such as n-heptane or n-hexane are popular in crafts, since they don't cause paper fibers to swell or shrink. By contrast, water-based glues tend to warp the surface of bonded materials.
Cured rubber glue doesn't get too brittle, and it rubs off fairly easily, making it a low stakes choice. It's not recommended for use with pictures, though, as it can deteriorate over time, distorting an image to which it's bonded.
6. Contact Cement
Contact Cement on Amazon
Contact cement has rubber in it, but it's a totally different adhesive from rubber cement. It's an excellent heavy-duty choice for a wide range of materials, and it's especially useful for nonporous surfaces like glass, plastic, and metal that are tricky to bond with other glues.
Contact cement dries very quickly and typically resists both heat and moisture, which makes it a good choice for areas exposed to the elements. Once it sets, it's difficult to remove, so measure twice and stick once!
7. Spray Adhesive
Spray Adhesive on Amazon
Spray adhesives are a good choice for quick fixes, crafting, and projects with large surface areas. They come in lighter bond and high-performance varieties, and can be used with wood, paper, plastic, and some fabrics and metals.
Always use spray adhesives either outdoors or in rooms with high ventilation.
8. Epoxy Resin
Epoxy Resin Glue on Amazon
These glues use the chemical combination of two substances (a resin and a hardener) to form strong, lasting bonds between almost any materials. They hold up well to tough conditions, which makes them popular in commercial engineering, and for sporting applications like fixing golf clubs, skis, and boats.
Epoxy resin adhesives come in liquid versions that are good for small repairs, and paste versions well suited to bonding larger surfaces. Like super glues, they can form a reliable wood filler for patching holes.
Different kinds of epoxies have different properties. Some dry clear, others dry opaque. Some dry fast, others slow. In general, they're extremely heat and chemical-resistant. High heat may even be used to cure epoxy glue, a process that actually augments its heat resistance, at least up to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Among many other things, epoxy resin glue is useful for grouting, adhering overhead surfaces, and bonding concrete, stone, and other aggregate materials.
9. Hot Glue
Hot melt glue is a thermoplastic adhesive, which means it changes from a solid to a fluid when it's heated. It's primarily used for crafting, but it can also help with minor home improvement tasks like repairing small items or installing light materials like foam insulation or beadboard.
Hot glue requires a melting gun to use. These small, inexpensive tools can typically heat hard glue to between 250 and 380 degrees Fahrenheit. High-temp hot-gluing produces a stronger bond than the low-temp setting, but both dry clear.
Hot melt glue is available in cylinders of various diameters. Different glue gun applicators can handle different thicknesses, but most hot glue guns are can melt the standard sizes. Heated adhesives have industrial scale commercial applications, but in home settings, they're mostly used for small tasks.
Melted glue is not especially powerful, but it's relatively resistant to moisture, solvent, and sunlight. This profile makes it best suited for crafting applications like wreaths, model figurines, and shadowboxes.
Once you squeeze hot glue out of the gun, connect your materials quickly—the glue will harden in a matter of seconds.
Like other craft glues, hot glue is good for working with kids, but the metal on the gun can cause minor burns, so you should always supervise children using them.
10. Waterproof Sealant
Many kinds of adhesive can be waterproof, including silicone, epoxy, and polyurethane. These sealants make good choices for areas like bathrooms where they'll have a high chance of contact with incidental moisture.
Water-resistant glues can handle occasional dampness, so they'll make good choices for outdoor elements like patio furniture and birdhouses, provided you don't live in an area with frequent heavy precipitation.
Waterproof glue, on the other hand, keeps its bond even under constant exposure to moisture. Except for the strongest adhesives, like expoy resin, even waterproof glues generally can't be submerged in water, but short of that, their bonds will hold.
Waterproof glues tend to have longer dry times, so you might need fasteners or clamps if you're connecting two loose objects.
11. Pressure Sensitive Adhesive
Pressure Sensitive Adhesives on Amazon
Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) tend to come in the form of dots on a sheet or sticky putty you can tear and mold to your needs. They're good for quick organizing, like sticking something to your fridge or mounting a poster with minimal damage to the wall beneath.
Like craft glue, they're not super resilient, so they're better for lightweight applications with materials like paper and cardboard. Some versions, though, are made specifically for industrial applications, like lightweight siding that can stick on to building surfaces.
12. Fabric Glue
Fabric Glue on Amazon
Most kinds of glue don't do a great job at holding fabric together, so if you're working with soft materials, you should definitely pick up a product specifically created for that purpose.
Fabric glues can be PVAs or other adhesive types. Most are waterproof, but not all are strong enough to withstand going through the laundry, so get a higher powered agent if you're working with clothes.
Some fabric adhesives come in the form of rolled tapes, which can range from rigid to pliant for use with different fabrics, like leather on the tougher side and cotton on the softer.
Polyurethane Glue on Amazon
Polyurethane is a common component of commercial adhesives, but you can also buy it by itself as a waterproofing sealant for outdoor wood materials, or as a bonding agent for plastic, metal, stone, or wood.
It takes about eight hours to cure, so you'll probably need a fastener if you use it as an adhesive. If you change your mind after application, you can remove it before it sets with a powerful cleaner like acetone. Dried polyurethane can be sanded off to apply a new coat.
14. Glass Glue
Glass Glue on Amazon
Glass glue is designed to bond glass to glass, as well as to other materials including paper, ceramic, metal, and wood. Most people prefer to use a clear drying adhesive with glass, so it helps to have a product specifically designed for the task.
Acrylated resin is a popular material for glass glues since it dries clear. You can cure this adhesive under a UV light if you have one, or just leave it in direct sunlight.
Products billed as UV glass glue may also be used to bond glass to metal or plastic, but you should always check the packaging to make sure. UV glass glue won't hold up to moisture very well, so it's better for indoor projects.
Glass glue is usually only a mild skin irritant, but it's still a good idea to wear gloves when you use it. Make sure to work in a well ventilated area and avoid open heat sources while applying. If you do use a UV lamp for curing, avoid looking at it directly and consider some protective glasses just to be safe.
A popular indoor/outdoor sealant, silicone glue is a flexible, waterproof adhesive ideal for use on windshields, door frames, roof seams, vinyl tops, weather stripping, and electrical connections.
Silicone glue is incredibly resistant to oil, water, excessive movement or vibration, and grease. The adhesive is non-flowing, meaning you can apply it either horizontally or vertically, while its high tensile strength ensures a strong, long-lasting bond.
This all-purpose adhesive is useful for sealing and/or insulating all types of surfaces. When installing a replacement shower door, you can use silicone adhesive to secure the frame to the tile or tub, or to seal a gap to stop water seepage.
Other uses for silicone glue include repairing porcelain, filling in cracked concrete, and resealing rubber products.
Silicone glue dries clear, although it retains its flexibility. An hour after application silicone glue will set. The adhesive customarily takes 24 hours to fully cure. Silicone adhesives are stable over a wide range of temperatures, making them resistant to extreme climate conditions.
The powerful bond formed by silicon glue is a result of its high stability at a molecular level. If you have the option, silicone glue will last longer and be more flexible than competing polymer adhesives.
Glue Pens on Amazon
Companies offer a huge range of glue products for all sorts of projects. Some of them are great for kids, like glitter glue and glue sticks. Others, like stick-on dots and glue pens, make nifty companions for productivity and design activities.
Cellulose glue is a popular adhesive for mounting large, thin materials like wallpaper. Krazy glue is great for quick fixes on small items. Flex tape is a durable waterproof cut and stick option.
One especially popular crafting glue material is Mod Podge, a decoupage adhesive great for working with paper goods.
General Indoor Use
Most general purpose PVA glues work well with paper, ceramic, and wood. They set in approximately eight hours and cure in 24 hours. To use this type of glue, apply a thin coat of the glue to both of the surfaces in question.
For best results, apply a clamp or other fastener for approximately four hours to help maintain proper alignment of the two surfaces. These lighter glues clean up easily with water and soap since most are water-soluble.
Light Repair Tasks
For decorative items, including glassware, ceramics, and plastics, hot melt glue offers precise application and relatively durable bonding. Depending on the surface you're working with, spray adhesives can offer a good quick fix, too.
Instant Bonding Tasks
Super glues make a good choice for instant fix tasks, especially if the item is a nonporous material such as plastic, metal, or rubber.
Cyanoacrylate can start to set as fast as 10 to 30 seconds, so it's essential to move quickly when using it. It should finish curing in between one and 12 hours, depending on the surface area.
It's hard to remove, so wear gloves when using this glue. Apply only a drop or two to the surface, and press the areas together for approximately 30 seconds. Clean up with acetone, if necessary. Super glue forms strong, water-resistant bonds.
Strong Bonding Tasks
For the strongest bonding tasks, use epoxy resin or contact cement. Almost all indoor and outdoor products work well with these adhesives, including wood, metal, glass, and plastic. Contact cement will set quickly, but epoxy resin solutions might need as much as two days to fully cure.
When working with these stronger agents, wear protective gloves, use disposable applicators, and work quickly. Clean any spills quickly with acetone while they're still wet. The bonds from these adhesives are extremely rigid, waterproof, and durable.
Ready to start your next project? Check out some of our specific glue guides, like how to glue veneer furniture, vinyl tiles, and bamboo flooring.
When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commissions at no cost to you.