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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

E-6000
- 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.

Shimmer
– 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!


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Comments

  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.”

  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

    Hi:

    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!)

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