Don't know which type of glue is worth keeping on hand for repairs? Here's a quick guide so you won't get stuck.
Hot glue, white glue, Gorilla glue, Krazy glue -- how many glues do you really need? Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
I love fixing things, partly because it's a great way to save money and partly for the satisfaction. So it stands to reason that one of the most important items in my tool kit is glue. You'd think I'd have a drawer full of different kinds, but I don't. Perhaps 90 percent of all my household gluing chores is done with just a few kinds of glue. I like them for their versatility, shelf-life and performance.
Want to bring the best glues home? Here's what you should grab:
Best Glue #1: White Glue
White glue, also known as polyvinyl acetate (PVA), has been around for years, but new formulations made it stronger. Some white glues produce water-resistant bonds, but for truly waterproof results you may need to resort to a specialty glue (see below).
I use white glue for everything from woodworking to craft projects. It's great for bonding porous materials, including paper, wood, polystyrene and fabric. I like that it dries clear and is easy to clean up with water. In addition, white glues are non-flammable, without harmful fumes and relatively non-toxic -- unless ingested. For kids, you can buy "school" formulations that are easy to wash out of clothing. White glue's also inexpensive and, if kept from freezing, will last for many years.
White glue works best when the joint or repair is clamped. Hand clamps are quick and easy alternative to screw-type clamps for many repairs . Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Best Glue #2: Yellow Glue
Yellow glue, also known as carpenter's glue, is very similar to white glue in its makeup and performance. But it's a bit more tacky and sets up a bit faster than white glue, which speeds up assembly. If you work with wood, keep a bottle of it on hand. Some new yellow glues, such as Titebond III Wood Glue
, are waterproof, which makes them a convenient alternative to the two-part resorcinol glues that, until now, were the best choice for outdoor projects. Be advised, however, that yellow glue has a shorter shelf life than white glue. It's only good for about one year.
No clamp handy? A heavy weight serves admirably to hold the slipper sole and slipper upper together while this yellow glue repair cures. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Best Glue #3: 5-Minute Epoxy
Yes, epoxy. I know it's toxic, but I love the versatility and performance. I get around the toxicity by wearing vinyl disposable gloves whenever I use epoxy. I also wait until I have several things to fix. Then I open a couple of windows and set up a fan or go outdoors to make the repairs all at once.
Epoxy comes in several types. For household repairs, I prefer the ones that set up quickly, such as Devcon's 5 Minute Epoxy
. It gives me enough time to make several small repairs at once, dries in 15 minutes and reaches functional strength in an hour. Mixing and using the product is easy, too.
This old model train engine suffered a break at the slot in which the coupler pivots. The epoxy repair has kept it on track for many years. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
With most epoxies, you begin by squeezing out equal amounts of resin and hardener onto a disposable dish or container. Mix thoroughly for at least one minute. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Best Glue #4: Specialty Glues
Apply the mixed epoxy to the break. I used a toothpick here. Then, either hold the pieces together until the epoxy sets (5 to 10 minutes), or lightly clamp with a rubber band as shown. Epoxies are strong enough to bridge gaps ("gap-filling") and only require enough pressure to close and align the pieces being joined. Photo: Joe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services
Sometimes you'll need a specialized adhesive. When bonding countertop laminate to plywood, for example, contact cement is the glue of choice. When adhering floor tiles, you would want to use the flooring adhesive recommended by the flooring manufacturer. For wood paneling and moldings, a construction adhesive -- such as Liquid Nails
--might be the way to go. Buy these glues as you need them in appropriate quantities.
Now -- the glues that didn't make the list
. Save money by skipping out on these guys:
Glue to Skip #1: Polyurethane-based Glue
You'll note that polyurethane-based glues, such as Gorilla glue, didn't make my list. Nor did instant glues (cyanoacrylates), such as Krazy Glue. Both types cure upon contact with moisture, which can be problematic. Because once you open the tube, moisture that's in the air can get into the container and begin the curing process. You had better use the stuff up fast or you'll simply have a hardened, useless hunk of hazardous gunk to deal with. Worse yet, they're difficult to remove from your skin and toxic.
Many woodworkers prefer polyurethane-based glues, which makes sense if you're working in a production-style shop -- but not if you only build one or two projects a year. Use white or yellow glue instead. Also keep in mind that polyurethane-based glues expand while curing, so don't use them on an open joint. Finally, polyurethanes and cyanoacrylates are more expensive than many other glues, especially if you consider their short shelf lives.
Glue to Skip #2: Hot-melt Glue
I've also left hot-melt glue off my preferred glue list. Of course, if you enjoy craft projects, you may want a glue gun and supply of glue sticks. They are inexpensive and fast-drying. My gripe is that the bond produced by hot melt plastic glue is not very strong. That's fine if you're gluing up a Valentine's Day card, but glue seashells to a picture frame and in a year at least one will have fallen off. Plus, it's really easy to burn your fingers with these guys!
Here's some more great glue tips from DIY Life:
Spread Woodworking Glue the Easy Way
More Glue for Homeowners