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Eight Craft Adhesives and When to Use Them

Are you overwhelmed by the options on the adhesives aisle of the craft store? Here are eight popular choices and when to use them!

Eight Craft Adhesives and When to Use Them

If we paid a visit to the local craft store and went to the adhesives aisle, you’d see a ton of selection. There are so many choices that it can be overwhelming!

Craft Adhesives

I use several types of adhesives in my creative projects, and I wanted to share with you the eight most common from my craft cabinet as well as what I do with them.

Hopefully this helps alleviate some of the confusion and demystifies the adhesives aisle! Here are my favorites.

Glue Dots

Glue Dots

Typically made of rubber co-polymer, resin and mineral oil. Adhesive dots go by many brand names, and have many purposes. Some are permanent and some are reposition-able.

I love the kind that come on a roll and use a dispenser for easy application. I love using adhesive dots in paper crafting projects, when you need a strong bond between lightweight items.

Suggested Surfaces: I use adhesive dots for paper-to-paper applications.

Mod Podge

Mod Podge

Decoupage mediums, including Mod Podge, are comparable to PVA glues, as they contain polyvinyl acetate (PVA). Decoupaging is the art of layering items onto a surface, and that’s exactly what you do with these products.

I typically layer fabric or paper onto a surface and then seal with Mod Podge. What I love about decoupage mediums is that they are waterbase and non-toxic, and easy for beginning crafters to use.

You can use Mod Podge as “standard” craft glue too, but I only use it when I’m layering and attaching things like paper and fabric to a surface. If I’m attaching embellishments, I use craft glue, as it’s a bit stronger.

Suggested Surfaces: Wood, glass, tin, fabric, paper, ceramic and some plastics (you’ll need to do a test for your plastic)

Hot Glue

Hot glue gun

This glue comes in sticks and is melted onto surfaces using a hot glue gun. Glue guns come in low-temp and high-temp versions, with low-temp versions having a lower risk of sending you to the hospital (both versions should be used with care).

I use a glue gun when I need a bond that is set instantly – no “dry time.” It’s perfect for embellishments on vertical surfaces that need a light to moderate bond.

Suggested Surfaces: Wood, glass, tin, fabric, paper, as long as it’s lightweight

Rubber Cement

Rubber cement

This is an adhesive made from elastic polymers (typically latex) mixed in a solvent. It’s relatively toxic smells strong, so you need to use it in a well-ventilated area.

When rubber cement is applied, the solvents evaporate and the latex is left behind, leaving the surface flexible. Therefore I recommend using rubber cement in applications where the surface needs to remain flexible (like collage pages or journaling).

It’s also easier to remove than other adhesive, so rubber cement is good to use when you might change something about your project later.

Suggested Surfaces: Paper – does not work well on fabric (use a fabric glue instead)

Spray Adhesive

3M spray adhesive

These come in cans with a spray nozzle, and are adhesives combined with propellant for even distribution across your project.

There are a variety of strengths including low-tack (which is temporarily repositionable) and high-tack (which is permanent).

Spray adhesives work well for paper projects that are a bit larger – I would use them when adhering a large piece of paper to a lightweight item; I would not use with small items as it would be difficult to accurately place the adhesive.

Suggested Surfaces: Paper and other lightweight porous surfaces

Super Glue

Krazy glue

Also known as “Krazy Glue,” super glue is part of a family of adhesives known as cyanoacrylates. They have industrial, medical and household uses and have some minor toxicity (so use with care).

I use super glue when I really need a strong bond that isn’t going to come apart, even if subjected to things like weather and moisture.

Standard craft projects won’t need this type of durability, but on occasion you’ll need it if your item will be subjected to extensive wear and tear.

Once you open the container, the shelf life is about one month – and always be careful of getting it on your fingers when using (they can stick together)!

Suggested Surfaces: Glass, metal, plastic, rubber

Tacky Glue

Tacky glue

All-purpose craft glues typically have PVA as one of their main ingredients, and you can include school glue, glue sticks, and other white glues in this category.

My favorite all-purpose craft glue is Tacky Glue, which seems to be thicker and stronger than other basic craft glues.

I use craft glue primarily for gluing embellishments to my craft projects that are decorative (light use). It’s great for items where you need light to moderate durability.

Suggested Surfaces: Wood, paper, plastic, fabric (anything porous)

Wood Glue

Wood glue

The most common type of wood glue is polyvinyl acetate (PVA). This adds to the stickiness of the glue, making it a bit stronger than most craft glues.

There are some additional chemical elements in wood glue beyond PVA, so use these glues with care. Wood glue can also take some time to set, so you’ll have to hold items in place or use clamps.

Suggested Surfaces: I use wood glue when gluing wood to wood only


Now that I’ve shared my favorite adhesives, let me know what yours are in the comments – and what you use them for!

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Glenda J

Saturday 17th of November 2018

I learned about paper cement in art school - very similar to rubber cement, but the bond is permanent. You can find it in art supply stores and online. I have never seen this product in Michael's or Hobby Lobby. I love it.

And I agree w/ Judith. You missed E6000 - I use this almost exclusively on my mosaic projects.

Judith A Hall

Friday 16th of September 2016

Good list of adhesives...I was really surprised to find E6000 missing from the list. It has become my go-to adhesive nearly all of my crafting.