Multipurpose Glues

By: Fix-It Club
White glue is not the strongest multipurpose adhesive, but will come in handy for a number of quick fixes.

If you keep a small assortment of multipurpose adhesives in stock you will be able to make a wide variety of repairs. The following are the most common types of multipurpose adhesives.

  • White glue (polyvinyl acetate, or PVA): PVA glue is a white liquid, usually sold in plastic bottles. It is recommended for use on porous materials -- wood, paper, cloth, porous pottery, and nonstructural wood-to-wood bonds. It is not water resistant. Clamping is required for 30 minutes to 1 hour to set the glue; curing time is 18 to 24 hours. School glue, a type of white glue, dries more slowly. Inexpensive and nonflammable, PVA glue dries clear.
  • Epoxy: Epoxies are sold in tubes or in cans. They consist of two parts -- resin and hardener -- that must be thoroughly mixed just before use. They are very strong, very durable, and very water resistant. Epoxies are recommended for use on metal, ceramics, some plastics, and rubber; they aren't recommended for flexible surfaces. Clamping is required for about 2 hours for most epoxies. Drying time is about 12 hours; curing time is one to two days. Epoxy dries clear or amber and is more expensive than other adhesives.
  • Cyanoacrylate: Also called super or instant glue, cyanoacrylate is similar to epoxy but is a one-part glue. These glues form a very strong bond and are recommended for use on materials such as metal, ceramics, glass, some plastics, and rubber; they aren't recommended for flexible surfaces. Apply sparingly. Clamping is not required; curing time is one to two days. Cyanoacrylates dry clear.
  • Contact cement: A rubber-base liquid sold in bottles and cans, contact cement is recommended for bonding laminates, veneers, and other large areas and for repairs. It can also be used on paper, leather, cloth, rubber, metal, glass, and some plastics because it remains flexible when it dries. It is not recommended for repairs where strength is necessary. Contact cement should be applied to both surfaces and allowed to set; the surfaces are then pressed together for an instant bond. No repositioning is possible once contact has been made. Clamping isn't required; curing is complete on drying. Contact cement is usually very flammable.
  • Polyurethane glue: This high-strength glue is an amber paste and is sold in tubes. It forms a very strong bond similar to that of epoxy. Polyurethane glue is recommended for use on wood, metal, ceramics, glass, most plastics, and fiberglass. It dries flexible and can also be used on leather, cloth, rubber, and vinyl. Clamping is required for about 2 hours; curing time is about 24 hours. Polyurethane glue dries translucent and can be painted or stained. Its shelf life is short, and it is expensive.
  • Silicone rubber adhesive or sealant: Silicone rubber glues and sealants are sold in tubes and are similar to silicone rubber caulk. They form very strong, very durable waterproof bonds, with excellent resistance to high and low temperatures. They're recommended for use on gutters and on building materials, including metal, glass, fiberglass, rubber, and wood. They can also be used on fabrics, some plastics, and ceramics. Clamping is usually not required; curing time is about 24 hours, but the adhesive skins over in less than 1 hour. Silicone rubber adhesives dry flexible and are available in clear, black, and metal colors.
  • Household cement: The various adhesives sold in tubes as household cement are fast-setting, low-strength glues. They are recommended for use on wood, ceramics, glass, paper, and some plastics. Some household cements dry flexible and can be used on fabric, leather, and vinyl. Clamping is usually not required; setting time is 10 to 20 minutes, curing time is up to 24 hours.
  • Hot-melt adhesive: Hot-melt glues are sold in stick form and are used with glue guns. A glue gun heats the adhesive above 200 degrees F. For the best bond, the surfaces to be joined should also be preheated. Because hot-melt adhesives are only moderately strong and bonds will come apart if exposed to high temperatures, this type of glue is recommended for temporary bonds of wood, metal, paper, and some plastics and composition materials. Clamping isn't required; setting time is 10 to 45 seconds, and curing time is 24 hours.

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