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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. Download your glue guide by clicking the text link to the left or the image below.
(want the old chart? Get it here)
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!
Tacky Glue – 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. 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.
Original Tacky Glue – A nice, thick glue perfect for every day use.
Clear Gel Tacky Glue – 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.
Quick Dry Tacky Glue – Sometimes you don’t have all day to wait for something to dry. I typically like a bit of wiggle room with dry time so I can finesse my projects as I work. But when I need something done quickly due to turnaround time I always go for the quick dry formula.
Fast Grab Tacky Glue – 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.
Tacky Glue Samplers – Not sure which Tacky Glue is your favorite? There are handy tacky sampler packs where you can try out my fave formulas available.
School Glue – 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.
Glue Sticks – 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.
When crafting with children, or when I don’t need a super amazing bond I always use Elmer’s Disappearing Purple Glue sticks. When I need a stronger bond but a stick is just much easier to manipulate for the project I lean toward Aleene’s Tacky Glue Sticks.
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.
Hot glue sticks – Sticks 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 sticks you’ll never go back.
Specialty hot glue sticks – You can also find neon, glitter, basic colors, individually packaged colors, hot glue sticks. There are even vanilla, pumpkin pie and Christmas tree/pine SCENTED glue sticks. What?
Silicone craft mat – If you drip and drool hot glue all over a silicone craft mat will help keep your mess contained. Hot glue, once dried, will easily peel away from the mat making things so much easier than getting a paint scraper off of your wood desktop! I personally own the Plaid Mod Podge version (because it’s PINK!) and when I manage to find it to actually use it I’m always very pleased with it.
Step aside glue stick, sometimes other adhesives are necessary when working with paper.
Repositionable Tacky Spray – Sometimes you want to stick paper
Elmer’s Craft Bond Spray Adhesive – This is currently my favorite spray adhesive. It’s perfect for smoothly applying paper (and even fabric) onto paper, cardboard and si
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 Best-Test Rubber Cement.
Aleene’s 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 and will dry clear.
Sometimes you need an industrial strength glue for the job, especially when you need a very strong bond. These are my go to glues. Take care as these glues must be always used in a properly ventilated area.
E-6000 – Whenever I say “strong glue” in a DIY I often 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.
Gorilla Super Glue Brush & Nozzle – Super glue always comes in handy but this particular glue is my favorite because it offers 2 different methods of applying the adhesive in a single bottle. It dries practically within seconds so you can work quickly and works very well on metal and, in general, works on plastic, fabric, stone, ceramic, paper, rubber and more. Where I used to keep many tubes of dollar store super glue, I now only keep 2 of these (one junk drawer, one craft room) because I don’t have to worry about the lid gluing shut.
Aleene’s The Ultimate – Newer to the market this industrial strength glue that works well on metal, wood, stone and ceramic. Though it is quite similar to the E-600 where The Ultimate stands out for me is that works very well on glass.
Sometimes you need a very strong specialty glue. Here are the four I find myself using from time to time.
DAP Weldwood Contact Cement – Think of contact cement like rubber cement on steroids. When adhering wood panels and flat metal to just about anything I bust out the contact cement. It dries tan and is extremely flammable with terrible vapors so use with very, very good ventilation. You apply cement to your two pieces to be put together, for instance when gluing two cuts of wood together to make it a larger piece, and allow it to dry according to the package directions. Once placed together that sucker is STUCK and bonded like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Contact cement is sold in large quantities for use on things like attaching vinyl flooring to subfloor. Yep, this stuff is strong enough you can literally walk all over it.
Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy – This adhesive is so strong you can not only use it for household/craft use but also on automotive repairs. Dang! This clear epoxy cures in only 5 minutes and fills gaps meaning it can easily be used on uneven surfaces. It’s water resistant, solvent resistant and non-toxic once cured. You can use Gorilla epoxy on steel, aluminum, glass, wood, ceramic, tile and most plastics.
Liquid Nails Mirror Adhesive – After having a mirror fall off of a craft project and break once it hit the floor in the middle of the night I’ve found myself always using Liquid Nails Mirror Adhesive since. Flat out, it’s made for mirrors, has amazingly crazy strong hold an works even when a mirror is hung on the wall with gravity and all of that. I’ve NEVER had a mirror come off when using this glue.
J.B. Weld – This is one of my dad’s go to glues. 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. It worked very well for us when my dad and I sealed up the screws on my security door that meant somebody could have easily removed it from the frame and, therefore not be quite so secure. This particular epoxy does not dry clear, but rather a dark gray.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
(by Aleene’s) – Pricey, but dry clean safe.
(by Aleene’s) – Great when gluing things onto fabric that moves a lot. For instance, great when gluing things onto cheapie winter gloves.
(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.
Sometimes you have a very specific need that typical fabric glue just won’t work out for when quilting or looking for a no sew option.
Spray n Bond Fusible Adhesive – This is a new find for me and I’ve found myself using it on multiple occasions. Don’t feel like sewing? Spray the backside of your fabric and allow to dry. Place your wrong sides of the fabric together and hit it with a hot iron and the two pieces will permanently fuse together. It’s like magic. Take care with over-spray as cleaning this business up isn’t much fun.
Basting Spray – I’ve used this on the few occasions I have made rag quilts. This temporary adhesive will keep your fabric pieces together so you can more easily run them through a sewing machine without all of those nasty straight pins to mess with. I’ve found that giving a few days of drying time is necessary to prevent the adhesive from gumming up on the needle of your sewing machine (and wreaking havoc) so keep that in mind when planning your quilting or applique projects.
Stitch Witchery – In my crafty tool kit since high school this fusible bonding web is so easily used, often to hem clothing. Folding the web within your hem you apply a wet rag and a hot cloth to steam the material until it permanently fuses together. I’ve used this to hem up many pairs of pants and I cannot recall ever having a hem come out even with regular washing. And when it comes to clothes I’m like a man… I have those shirts that friends and family WISH I would throw away but it just isn’t happening :)
Jewelry making requires special glue. You need something that works well with metal and often glass and is industrial strength. When items are worn they are more likely to get banged up than, say, something you make to rest on a tabletop. I’ve got 3 different glues that I always have in my beading stash.
E-6000 – This glue appears twice in this list and for good reason. This industrial strength glue has long been the standard used by crafters and jewelry makers because it’s strong and works well on metal.
Aleene’s Glass & Bead Adhesive – When working with jewelry a permanent bond is a must and this glue works incredibly well on glass and other slick surfaces, a rare thing, indeed. It’s got a fab,thick consistency that dries clear, is water resistant and is paintable. It is suggested for use on glass, beads, mirrors, ceramics, hard plastic and jewelry items.
Aleene’s Jewelry & Metal Glue – This glue is in the super glue family and dries so quickly you have to be very careful! If you don’t want to hang around holding one thing to another waiting for the glue to set this is the perfect go to jewelry glue for you. It works on beads, glass, metal, semiprecious stones, mirrors. It also works on just about any cord you’ll get your hands onto including wire, leather and rubber. It also comes in nifty dry adhesive dots which I haven’t had the opportunity to test out, yet. It mostly dries clear but can leave a flakey white residue if allowed to pool up.
Mod Podge – Though there are other brands out there I always find myself grabbing the Plaid brand Mod Podge when I’ve got decoupage on my mind. Not just a glue this waterbase product is also a sealer and a protective finish (though not water-safe). The most commonly used Mod Podge matte and Mod Podge gloss formulas are easily found in gigantic sizes if you’re a constant crafter. If you prefer a satin finish, Plaid has you covered there, too, though you might have to look online or in craft stores to locate Mod Podge Satin.
One of the many reasons I love Mod Podge is their commitment to create lots of formulas for just about anything you could require when working with decoupage. In the 3+ years since this guide was originally created there are TONS of variety when it comes to Mod Podge. Available are: Glow-In-the-Dark, Fabric, Outdoors, Extreme Glitter, Shimmer, Sparkle, Antique, Furniture (in Satin, Matte and Glossy finishes), Hard Coat, Paper, Dishwasher-Safe and Super Thick Gloss. Boom. Decoupage up that business any way you please.
For more information head over to the Mod Podge Rocks blog for an explanation for every single Mod Podge formula out there!
Remember to visit This to That to find an adhesive option not discussed here, or hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to help you out!