Glue Guide – Use the Right Glue for the Job

Glue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart

If you ask somebody who isn’t crafty how many types of glues there are they will probably give you a pretty low number. When I asked around the number was normally around 5. If only they knew. A trip down the adhesives aisle at a craft store will set them straight.

In fact, looking at all of those glues can be pretty darn daunting. Plus they can be expensive and they can dry up before you have the opportunity to use it all up. So what do you do when you don’t know what kind of glue you need?

In the past when trying to locate what will work and what dries clear and what is permanent I got frustrated. That wondrous adhesive aisle can be pretty infuriating when you’re reading 10 different tubes and bottles and still not finding what you need. My searches often went online where I felt as though I got the runaround. Plus, a decent comprehensive reference couldn’t be found – and if I did find one the link would be broken.

I’ve made the following chart that I use as a quick reference and I’d like to share it with you. Just click on the image below to open the PDF file that will print nice and clearly for you. Keep it at your desk, toss one in your glue box… I spent lots of time online searching different resources and compiling what I found and trying to make it easily accessible. Most of the time I kept it generic, but sometimes I have gone brand specific.

Glue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart

If you still aren’t sure which glue to use, it’s often best to err on the side of caution as clean up from a fouled attempt can be time consuming, never mind that it can completely ruin your project. If you want quick guide for knowing how to glue one thing to another, you absolutely must check out This to That.

Fill in the fields to attach (this) to (that) and accurate advice will magically appear! For instance, when gluing ceramic to styrofoam, they suggest Epoxy for the strongest bond, hot glue for the fastest, weldbond for the least toxic and suggest to apply glue to the ceramic and then adhere to styrofoam. Neat, huh? Let’s dig into my glue box and see what we have, shall we?


School GlueGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart
- This is excellent to have around if you have kids that like to craft because it’s non-toxic and easy to clean up and can be used generally, on paper, styrofoam, wood, ceramics.

I always buy Elmer’s brand simply because I am familiar with the results and it is inexpensive, however there are store brands that can be cheaper. Another application is to make creepy skin clones of your hands circa grade school times.

Wood Glue
– One of the least versatile glues here but important all the same. The bond is considered permanent dries a yellowy beige color and is only acceptable for use on wood.

I typically purchase Elmer’s brand simply because I am familiar with the results and happy with the price, but there are more brands to choose from at hardware stores.

Glue SticksGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart
– These are great in my book because kids can’t make as big of a mess as they can with liquid glue. They dry clear, most are acid free and all are acceptable for paper crafting.

There are tons of brands at different price points and I have probably used them all, including sticks where the glue changes color (most commonly from purple) to clear as it dries which an be handy in certain circumstances. They are great for office use when sealing envelopes, especially in large quantities. The only negative is that they can dry out before you have the opportunity to completely use up.


Tacky GlueGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart
– As you can tell, Aleene’s is my brand of choice. While it may seem overkill to have so many, the different types can have different attributes and applications.

The similarities – all tacky glue is considered to be permanent, dry clear and acceptable for general use, paper. All but the clear are also acceptable for use on styrofoam, wood, ceramics and fabric.

Fast Grab Tacky GlueGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart
– When working with little things that try to get away from you, like beads, this stuff is a godsend. It’s also great when working with something that is difficult to hold on to. For instance, you’re trying to glue these two angles together but it’s hard to hold it in place just so while the glue dries. This stuff instantly grabs and takes hold so you don’t have to while it dries.

Original Tacky GlueGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart
– A nice, thick glue perfect for every day use.

Clear Gel Tacky GlueGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart
– You know how sometimes glue that is supposed to dry clear is kind of milky? This is great for when that is just not an option.

Super FabricGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart
– This may seem an awful lot like ‘Fast Grab Tacky GlueGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart, however, Quick Dry doesn’t have that initial grab but it does dry much more quickly. Great for projects that need to be handled a lot while being worked on.


Mod PodgeGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart
is considered permanent, dries clear and acceptable for use on paper, styrofoam, wood, ceramics and fabric. Uses include as a glue, decoupage medium and finishing top coat. There are a wide variety of formulas including those listed below.

GlossGlue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart | Matte |  Fabric | Glitter | Glow-in-the-Dark | Satin | Shimmer | Sparkle

Typically I keep gloss, matte and outdoor on hand as they are the ones I most commonly use. While there are versions online for homemade Mod Podge, I really recommend using the real stuff. While the homemade can be considerably cheaper, it also doesn’t have the permanence necessary for most decoupage projects.


Rubber Cement
– Intended for primarily paper crafting and can be used for temporary or permanent adhesion, this glue is acid free. There are three methods when using rubber cement: wet mount, dry mount and combination mount that should be outlined on every bottle. Works well when making binding on homemade notebooks and makes a pretty believable fake booger (not that I’d know from experience).

Paper Glaze
- This adhesive is for paper crafting and is common in scrap-booking. While more expensive than traditional glues, it contains no acid and will never yellow with age making it perfect for keepsakes. When applied in thin coats it can be used to laminate images. Dries clear when applied in thin layers.


Fabric Stiffener
- While not technically a glue I feel that it fits into this category. Intended only for fabric, this product does exactly what it says it will. Either watered down, or applied straight from the bottle, this turns flimsy fabric, lace, felt and the like into a rigid piece. The more watered down the glue, the less stiff the form will be. The application requires dipping the fabric into the mixture or brushing on and wringing out the excess. To prevent waste, I wring the extra into a mason jar to be reused again and again.

Felt Glue
– While a specialty glue that only works for felt may seem like a silly expenditure, if you use felt often it comes in very handy. Use in place of sewing felt together, or to tack down items that are difficult to hold in place when sewing. The downside is that it dries very, very hard so take care not to use anywhere you need to actually stitch.

Fabric glue
– There are tons of fabric glues out there and I typically have several on hand.

Cheapie No-Sew Fabric Glue – I purchase mine at Family Dollar for $2 a package. It goes a long way and is easy to use. Only use with projects that will not need to be washed often.

Fray Check of Stop Fraying
– Apply to rough edges of fabric to prevent fraying. Especially great if you don’t have access to a pricey serger.

Fabric Fusion
(by Aleene’s) – Pricey, but dry clean safe.

Flexible Stretchable
(by Aleene’s) – Great when gluing things onto fabric that moves a lot. For instance, great when gluing things onto cheapie winter gloves.

Super Fabric
(by Aleene’s) – This stuff means business and must be used with proper ventilation. I only use this type of glue when working on shoes or other fabric things that have a lot of wear and are often around water, scuffed, etc.


Hot glue gun
– An honest to goodness multipurpose glue that is permanent and acceptable for general use on paper, styrofoam, wood, ceramics, fabric and natural items. Due to its nature it is necessary to take caution when working with hot glue as the glue and the metal bits on the gun it can cause nasty burns.

Both a pro and a con, this glue quickly adheres as it cools down requiring quick work.It can yellow or become brittle with time.

Glue guns can be found to be corded or cordless, high temperature, low temperature or a combination of the two (with a switch). There are full size (larger) and mini size, which I prefer and own.

Sticks also come in high temperature or low and multiple sizes- be sure to purchase the right temperature and size for you gun. Additionally the sticks come in regular length and extended length. Once you buy the longer ones, you’ll quickly become accustomed to not reloading the gun frequently and will only buy the shorter when absolutely necessary.


Super Glue
– Permanent and drying clear, this adhesive can be applied in most general uses, paper, ceramics.

I purchase mine at the dollar store where they are 4 for $1 because it is a rare occasion when I can open the tube for a second use. Dries clear and really likes to glue skin to things very quickly. I imagine that most junk drawers around the world have a tube of this stuff hanging out just for emergencies.

- Whenever I say “strong glue” in a DIY I always follow it with “like e-6000″. Industrial strength, it is suggested for general use, wood, ceramics, fabric, metal and natural materials and it dries clear.

To use apply a small amount and allow to sit until it becomes tacky. Then press the two items together. If you try to use immediately, your top bit will slide around like crazy. It must be used in a properly ventilated area.

Quick Hold
is a version of the same but dries much more quickly but costs more for less product.

– Good for a permanent bond on paper, wood, ceramics, and metal. It is made of two components (they often look like double barrel syringes or two tubes like above) when mixed together make a very, very strong adhesive. Unlike most glues that are still kind of soft when dry, epoxy creates a hard protective shell that can help protect if from the elements, including humidity. JB Weld is specific type of epoxy that can withstand very high temperatures and my preference. Some will dry clear and others will not, like JB Weld which dries a dark gray.

Spray Adhesive
Incredibly handy, spray adhesive can be used to form either temporary or permanent bonds when working with paper, fabric and natural items.

When buying spray adhesive I purchase whatever is the cheapest as I have no loyalty to any one brand. I’ve seen where it is recommended for applying glitter but in my experience, it is always a fail. Overspray can be a sticky and messy issue, so take care when using. Also use in a well ventilated area as fumes are nasty business.

Glue Guide by Dream a Little Bigger - always use the right glue - FREE downloadable reference chart

On a side note I haven’t noticed paste for sale, have you? I wonder if Elmer realized that the applicator was too similar to a spoon for lower elementary children to ignore? If you have a crafty glue that you love, please share it in the comments!

Hope your weekend plans are fantastic!

See where I link up.


  1. says

    Great tutorial! I am sure you have saved a lot of people a lot of grief in choosing the correct glue! However, you indicated on your chart that E6000 is not washable. Not sure exactly what you mean by that heading, but if you are saying it will not hold up to getting wet that isn’t quite correct. I think you must be referring to the removal of the glue though. Anyway, I am posting this quote below from the FAQs about E6000 in case anyone is confused:

    “Is E6000 washer/dryer safe?
    Yes. E6000 will hold on substrates applied to fabrics that are put through the washer and dryer. Dry cleaning, however, is not recommended as dry cleaning solvents break down cured adhesive.”

    • belinda says

      i really really hate aleenes jewelry glue. Either the top becomes nonremovable or it shoots glue up into the air. Right now i am sitting here worried that it is in my damn eyes.

      • says

        Eek! That doesn’t sound great at all! I’ve started having issues with the lid and that does stink. e6000 makes a jewelry glue now and it’s a lot easier to handle and it doesn’t dry so quickly so you won’t be gluing yourself to your projects and losing bits of your fingerprints!

  2. Kari Clement says

    Hi ,I am wanting to decorate older leather handbags with coins, old buttons, beads etc. What kind of glue would I use that would not come loose in time? Thank you, Kari

  3. Maureen says

    This Guide for Glue is wonderful! Thank you for your work on the tutorial! I would like to copy & paste the guide in my iPad Evernote, but I can’t! One is I can’t get past your ad for Marie Callenda’s food, there’s NO X to do so. And is there a way you can have on your site a type of “CleanPrint” so it’s easy to copy for someone.

    Love to get your posts and I hope you’ll be able Help in these areas.

  4. betty w says


    Besides the Felt Glue, what glue do you recommend that I use? I’m making a super hero eye mask for my daughter using felt since it’s stiffer. But, it’s not so soft on the face. I wanted to glue another piece of fabric to the felt so that it’s a softer material rubbing against my daughter’s face. What kind of glue do you recommend for that? (I wasn’t planning to sew, only glue the mask together.) Thanks much! And thank you for this post…truly helpful.

    • says

      You could use a thicker fabric glue. Aleene brand has a Super Fabric that means business and dried nice and soft and pliable. You have to use it with proper ventilation but it is what I would use instead of felt glue (which can dry stiff and kind of scratchy).

  5. Sean Carrigan says

    I am looking to glue burlap to inexpensive plastic masks to make “scarecrow” masks as a Halloween project with a youth group. I do not want the burlap to become shiny and lose the rough, texture look/feel, but I want the burlap to adhere to the curves of the underlying plastic mask. Your thoughts please?

    • says

      Hey, Sean. I’d actually recommend Aleene’s Super Fabric. Now this stuff is noxious and needs to be used in a well ventilated area.

      I’d first brush the glue onto the mask, set the burlap on top and give it a push to make sure it sticks to the curves and bends and LEAVE IT to dry completely. You can come back and trim up the extra burlap with scissors or an X-acto knife. The less you manipulate them, the less likely it is that you’ll get the glue on the front side of the masks. Some might come through the burlap (since the weave is so loose) but I’d just leave it alone to dry because smearing it will make that whole area it touches a bit glossy.

      That’s my two cents. Let me know how it works?

  6. cathy ondick says

    I bought an outdoor secoration made of several glass bowls/plates glued to a hocket puck and stuck into the ground on a piece of rebar. I have used many glues but they don’t hold up in the sun and heat. Any suggestions? E6000 and sticky ass glue are among the ones I have tried. Thanks for any help you can give me. Cathy

    • says

      Ooh – I’m not sure what hocket puck is? BUT I’ve had good luck with glass stuff and Aleene’s Jewelry and Metal Glue. I’ve glued glass bits onto wood and glass and metal and plastic and it’s worked like a dream. It doesn’t have a finished texture or whatever that seems like it would have a problem with the heat, either. I think I’d give it a go first ($3 in the jewelry making section at WalMart!)

  7. marcie says

    I see someone already asked about the felt/felt glue. I am curious though if you have a suggestion for a glue that will work on felt to stick pieces in place and then allow you to either hand stitch or sew them.

    • says

      To be honest I use a very small dab of felt glue in the center and away from my stitching. You could try tacky glue or a fabric glue… Let me know if it works for you…

  8. Jassica says

    Hi! I’m trying to glue plastic buttons on a painted canvas without smearing the paint (all acrylic paints). What would you recommend? I was thinking the E6000 would work the best.

    Thanks for the overview of SO MANY different glues. I’m going to refer back to this often!

    • says

      Hmmm… That can be quite a pickle. To be honest I think my first choice would be hot glue. It will dry so quickly on you that could cause a problem, but I hate the way E6000 can smear about a bit because it doesn’t dry as quickly. It’s serious business glue, too and I am afraid if you have to wipe some away, that it’s just gonna take right on off with your paint, too! Either way, let me know how it goes?

  9. Jess says

    Love your article, very insightful. I need some help for my DIY Halloween costume. I was planning on being a gumball machine for Halloween and you have to glue gumballs (either real ones or the colorful cotton balls) onto the shirt. I have my heart set on using real gumballs because it looks that much more authentic but I’m concerned about if they will stay on the shirt. The shirt material is 60% rayon, 35% polyester and 5% spandex (figured the type of fabric might make a difference). What kind of glue do you think would work best to stick the gum balls on shirt? I was going to use a glue gun but figured I’d better ask someone with more knowledge on the subject. Thanks!

    • says

      It looks like most of the costumes online that use the real gumballs attach to a bustier or bra. That would definitely hold the weight of the gumballs. To be honest, most home crafters are going to use hot glue because it’s cheap and easily accessible. It dries to be firm and very quickly so you can get this sucker knocked out without crazy dry time. I think it should work well if your shirt is nice and sturdy and you don’t skimp on the glue. If your top is soft or flowy, your gumballs will be too heavy no matter the glue.

  10. Sara Price says

    I am making my daughter a dog costume for Halloween and I am going to attached black felt circles to a white cotton shirt/pants. I was planning to use hot glue but now I don’t think that’s the best idea. I don’t want it to burn a hole through the fabric or scratch her delicate skin. Any advice on which glue to use since I don’t sew. Thank you so much!

  11. Dalia says

    Hi For this Halloween I saw a great quick DIY picture where a girl was wearing a zipper down her face half way open , and it looked like her face was being torn apart. Simple. Right?! But how in the world did they get that zipper to stick to her face? Any glue you recommend ? I’ve seen comments on “Spirit Gum” but they all do mention it works well on lightweight object and laytex.. The zipper has fabric and will be vertically worn on my face, which I’m more than sure the weight of the metal will bring it down… I thought of double sided tape but I don’t think that would help much either… Any suggestion?! Please help! Thank you!

  12. says

    Hi Allison! Thanks for this great glue guide. I have a question though: What glue should I use to glue fabric to clear smooth plexiglass? The problem is I’m glueing the good side of the fabric to the plexiglass, so the glue needs to dry completely clear and not be goopy. I tried 3m77 – adheres perfectly but doesnt dry clear – and Aleens fabric glue – dries clear but doesnt stick to the plexiglass. What would you suggest?


    • says

      It seems like the best option might be a permanent spray adhesive (one that doesn’t say repositionable) the spray will have a kind of spittle effect but I think be less noticeable. Another option could be gloss Mod Podge but it might make your fabric look wavy. Let me know how it goes?

  13. says

    Thank you so much Allison! Unfortunately the 3M77 i used is a spray adhesive, and it is too spittley. I’ve tried gloss modge podge but it doesnt adhere very well to the plexiglass. I’m somewhat out of adhesive options, so I’m going to try coating the fabric in resin.

  14. Amir says

    Made a costume that my daughter will be wearing this Friday, and the top part of the dress has felt sewn onto the fabric, on this part of the dress we want to glue real candy. I was wondering what would be best to hold candy and after glueing could we use mod podge to seal it?

    • says

      Hi, Amir. I think I ‘d go with hot glue because it will have the strongest bond to fabric from the candy. Mod Podge might swirl around the colors changing them from, say a red and white peppermint to a pink candy. I’d use a spray polyurethane or acrylic sealer (in the craft section) to seal instead!

  15. Rebecca says

    What about glue dots? I’ve experimented with using them for kids crafts (no dry to stick time) but I’m curious about suggestions and best use advise for them. Any comments or ideas? Also for fabric and felt , iron on adhesive (like Wonder-under) is my favorite.

    • says

      To be honest I have very little experience with glue dots so I’d go with package directions. I’ll experiment here soon and see what I can learn about them. I also love Wonder-under and it’s great for homemade appliques and whatnot!

  16. Bonnie says

    Hello I am trying to make a pretty hair clip by gluing fabric onto felt with a metal clip in between. I used Jewel-It Fabric Embellishing Adhesive and the felt seemed to absorb all the glue and the fabric and metal are not really sticking to it. Do you have any glue recommendations for my project?

  17. Jean says

    thanks so much for this chart!
    I am trying to glue plastic to plastic (large soda bottles); will E6000 work for this, or should I use an epoxy, eg Gorilla Glue?

    • says

      For plastic to plastic you could use either equally well I’d think. I’d say go with what you already have on hand and see how it turns out, but plastic to plastic shouldn’t be too difficult. Good luck!

  18. G-Man says

    There is a group of adhesives in the acetone based family.

    Beacon’s 3 and 1 Advanced Craft Glue (75%); $6.95 4 fl oz OR
    ZAP Goo (40%) by Pacer Tech a SuperGlue Corp division under $4 1 oz re-useable tube.
    Both are in a gel, initially flexible / moveable. Work well with metal to plastic/wood/ceramic et al. Thinnable or clean-up w/ acetone;nail polish remover(??).

  19. sgoldleaf says

    how about gluing fabric (particularly denim) to a rigid cardboard backing? I’ve used Best-test adhesive spray but can’t seem to find it anymore.

  20. Norma says

    Thank you for doing all the leg work! This is super helpful!

    I am walking in a super hero themed 5K dressed as Wonder Woman. I bought a paid of blue boxer shorts for a buck and want to glue some felt stars to them. I’m not real concerned about how it will hold up over time as I will only have about $3 invested in them – I just want to get thru the 5K without leaving a trail of stars behind me. Do you think hot glue would work? I will have something on underneath them.


  21. Yvonne Hellyar says

    Thanks for this informative article. I live in South Africa and we cannot get hold of some of these glues. My favorite is definitely Mono Multi (for general paper crafting) and E6000, which is difficult to get here. Whenever I hear of a friend going to the U.S.A I always beg them to bring some E6000 back for me. The problem with Mono Multi is that it does not dry solid but seems to stay tacky. The E6000 sometimes sometimes removes the backing from cheaper “gem” stones

  22. Melanie Lewis says

    I am hoping to make this craft with a group of kids at the library where I work this fall. I saw some wonderful fall colored pom poms and would love to make this work. Can you tell me which of the safe/easy to use/quick drying glue options you would recommend for this project to be a success? Glue guns are not an option for our library crafts.

    Thanks for your help

    • says

      Hey, Melanie – my first thought was to use Aleene’s Quick Grab Tacky Glue. It takes a hold of stuff right away so there is no sitting and holding something for minutes for it to catch before moving on. It’s pretty awesome stuff and will wash right off of kiddos hands.

  23. Helen says

    I am interested in trying some Pebble Art. What type of glue would you use to glue pebbles to a mat (paper) type backing for framing, to wood or to another rock.

  24. Ivette mosso says

    hello thank you for the amazing tips. I want tI do this easter bunny crafts for a charity event but am having a hard time figuring out what to use. I need to glue pom poms onto a lollipop and plastic eye balls onto a wood bead as well. I can’t use a hot glue gun because it’s with kids and at a park. Any suggestions thank you

  25. Fran says

    I know your post is old, but I am hoping you will see this and help me. I have made cloth foldover clutches and would like to a round metal filigree medallion to the front. What kind of glue would you use. Thanks for your help.

  26. Kimberly says

    Great post! I am hoping you may have a suggestion for me. I mod podged some artwork onto some wood boards, unfortunately on both sides. I attached some D-ring hangers on the back with hot glue and it seemed to work great for about two weeks, then slowly but surely they are all falling off the wall. Can you suggest a better adhesive for matte mod podge?

  27. Melody says

    I just bought a gorgeous calf hair bag, but I’m scared of balding. I know it will eventually happen, but is there a spray or liquid glue I can use that won’t make the hair stiff??

  28. Tara says

    Such a helpful tutorial, but of course, I still have a question. I want to glue fairly light 10″ chipboard numbers to a craft-style shadow box (which is also a lighter product with no glass not a durable shadow box). I want to attach two sheets of paper for decoration in between the back of the shadow box (which is a shiny coated chipboard type of material) and the number I will be attaching.

    I was wondering how to best attach the number to the back of the box being that there will be paper in between. I feel like the number along with the glue will pull the paper off as it is just scrapbook paper. Or maybe I should also be asking what type of glue I should be using to attach the paper to paper and the paper to the chipboard back. I have always used little tape runners for scrapbooking, but the one I use is not strong enough though it does leave the paper without any wrinkles.

    These boxes are a gift and I have this fear that down the road the number will detach from the paper or tear the paper off and I would be so embarrassed!


    • says

      To attach the paper I’d use either a really strong spray adhesive. This by Loctite is good and so is this by Aleene’s. If you’ve ever used it you can’t peel the paper off (you have to use a scraper and it’s a total nightmare). Your paper will go nowhere! Then I’d use a really strong glue, like e6000 to attach the letters. Might be overkill but that stuff won’t go anywhere!

  29. says

    Thank you for posting this! I’m working on an abstract metal sculpture using found objects and needed to know what kind of glue was best. I was using the wrong stuff, can’t wait to try the E6000 adhesive. Very informative, thank you!! :D

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