Best Glues

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There is a bewildering array of glues in any hardware store and deciding which one you need for a particular job can be very confusing. There is no single versatile glue but Burke’s Backyard has assessed the range and concluded that you only need five different types of glue to tackle most household needs.

Construction adhesives

Type of glue:

thick solvent-based synthetic rubber

Typical uses:

gluing sheet flooring to joists
installing plasterboard
replacing a loose brick, for example repairing a damaged brick on a driveway entrance
cork tiles to most surfaces
laminates to timber
timber or fibrous cement to brick
ill-fitting timber joints together
replacing a ceramic wall tile
bonding polystyrene
minor shoe repairs such as gluing rubber shoe soles

Method of use:

apply a 4mm (1/4″) bead of glue at 40cm (16″) spacings on bonding surface (some applications require closer spacing so check manufacturer’s guidelines)
can be used as a contact cement where the two surfaces to be glued are coated with the product, allowed to become “tacky” as the solvent dries then pushed together
bridges gaps up to 9mm (1/2″) so effective on uneven surfaces
can be painted when cured

Clean up:

clean up with mineral turps within one hour of use

Setting time:

24 hours before removing clamps (where appropriate)
working strength in 24 hours and complete curing in seven days

Exclusions:

constantly wet conditions such as around showers and baths or boating timber (more specialised products exist)
constant high temperatures such as metal roofs

Storage life:

tubes must be tightly sealed
unopened cartridges last for 12 months
opened cartridges will last for several months if the extruding nozzle is tightly sealed with plastic wrap

Example products: Selleys Liquid Nails, Fuller Max Bond, Bostik No More Nails, Ramset Nail Free. Available in small tubes or as a cartridge but the average person will only require a small tube. If you have a large job the cheapest way to purchase is a cartridge. Max Bond is good value for money in either size.

Epoxy resins

Epoxy resins are tougher and more durable than super quick setting glues or solvent-based hobby glues and in most instances can substitute for these.

Type of glue:

two part resin and hardener generally sold in a twin syringe

Typical uses:

repairing china, glass, metals, porcelain, wood, concrete, rubber, pottery and some rigid plastics

Method of use:

repairs which have to be held together until the adhesive sets
two parts are mixed together (generally in the same proportion) and applied to both surfaces

Clean up:

clean up with acetone (nail polish remover) before it sets

Setting time:

from five minutes to one hour depending on the brand
there are 90 second setting formulations but there is a trade-off in reduced strength

Exclusions:

not suitable for gluing polyethylene (such as clear plastic bags) or polypropylene (such as a plastic bucket)

Storage:

sealed containers will last for years
if in a tube ensure correct caps (normally colour coded) are replaced

Example products: Selleys Araldite, Bostik Epoxy Bond, Fullers 4-6 minute

Silicon sealants

Type of glue:

The clear type silicon rubber sealants also make fantastic adhesives so if you have some left over from a sealing job it can be useful for gluing.

Typical uses:

any areas experiencing high temperatures such as on roofs or in the vicinity of stoves or slow combustion stoves
repairing roof tiles
sealing gaps in metal roofs
lap joining flashing
gluing glass together
areas that are constantly wet

Method of use:

sealant is extruded from tube or cartridge

Clean up:

a spatula is used to smooth off surface otherwise very difficult to clean up
masking is recommended where area to be glued is visible

Setting time:

skin forms in five minutes and remains flexible indefinitely

Exclusions:

not as much sheer strength as construction adhesives
cannot be painted

Storage:

as per construction adhesives

Example products:

Selleys Roof & Gutter Sealant, Fullers Silicone Multi-purpose, Bostik General Purpose Silicone

PVA

Type of glue:

Milky white emulsion of polyvinylacetate polymer and water.

Typical uses:

woodworking and carpentry where the surfaces are clean and close fitting and where the work can be clamped
useful and safe craft glue for paper and cardboard, fabrics and felt

Method of use:

apply thin layer to timber surface and clamp for about an hour
brush on a thin layer to paper or fabric to be glued and join together

Clean up:

wipe up excess with water-dampened cloth before PVA dries – particularly important if you plan to stain timber
wash brushes in warm water

Setting time:

20-45 minutes with maximum bonding in eight to 12 hours

Storage:

sealed container will last indefinitely

Exclusions:

constantly wet conditions such as timber on boats (more specialised PVA products exist)
constant high temperatures such as metal roofs

Example products:

Selleys Aquadhere, Fullers Max Bond PVA, Bondcrete, (Note that PVA glues labelled for craft use generally cost much more than their woodworking equivalent. Bondcrete is cheaper if bought in a tin rather than in a squeeze bottle but the bottle may be more convenient).

Hot glue guns

Type of glue:

heat activated adhesive

Typical uses:

craft applications such as dried flowers, felt, foam, ceramic tiles, plastics (not polyethylene or polypropylene), paper, wood
ideal for fiddly and fine work because the glue can be directed precisely and dries in an instant

Method of use:

rod of solid glue which melts under heat (180-190C ) is extruded from the gun and discharged as a liquid onto surface
bonding occurs as glue cools

Clean up:

  • mineral turps will dissolve glue
  • cut away surplus with a knife

Setting time:

  • 20 seconds to one minute

Exclusions:

  •  won’t support much weight or withstand movement

Storage:

  •   indefinite

Example products: Bostik Hot Melt Glue, Fullers Glue Sticks (some contain decorative glitter)
General Guidelines to Gluing

Read the directions carefully. In particular follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning the surfaces to be joined. Removal of surface dust, dirt and grease is important for maximum bonding.

The ingredients of some adhesives may cause skin irritation, many are inflammable and all should be used under well ventilated conditions to avoid inhaling fumes. Glues should be safely stored out of the reach of children, although PVA glues are a safe craft adhesive.

Further information

These prices are a useful guide to costs.

Construction adhesive: Fuller Max Bond 320g cartridge, $4.95
Caulking guns range from $6.95-$16.95

Epoxy resin: Selleys Araldite Super Strength 24mL twin syringe, $11.60

Silicon: Selleys Roof & Gutter Sealant 310g cartridge, $8.95

PVA: Bondcrete 1 litre, $18

Hot glue guns: range in price from $20-$60: buy the best quality you can afford. Fuller has the best range of glue sticks including glitter sticks.