A beginner's guide to the different types of glue and their uses

So we’ve already covered the basics on the different types of wood and paint – but glue can also be an absolute life-saver in DIY.

Whether it’s fixing a piece of furniture or creating wooden panelling, there are so many different ways glue is used for decorating.

However, there are a lot of different types to choose from.

So how do you know which one to opt for if you’re a DIY beginner?

Patrick Jonassen, a DIY expert at TaskRabbit, says: ‘There are lots of ways you can use glue to help with DIY throughout the house, but it’s important to use the right one or your repair job could end up worse than you started.’

As a result, experts have put together some pointers on everything to know about the different types of glue – and, more importantly, when to use them.

Grab glue

Thomas Goodman, DIY and construction expert at MyJobQuote, says one type you’ll use a lot in DIY is grab glue. 

He explains: ‘This usually comes in a tube, ready for applying with a cartridge gun. Using the gun dispensing method successfully takes a few practices but is great for quick application on large areas. 

‘Grab glue gets its name from the fact that once materials are pushed firmly together, they hold in place. That’s why it’s handy for vertical interior decor, such as wood panelling and skirting boards.

‘There are lots of different brands and types for both inside and outside use, with varying curing times. So, when you’re buying grab glue, check if it’s suitable for the task you’re doing.’

In terms of some different ones to look for, Patricks says: ‘Solvent-free GripFill is a great product to use for skirting boards and architraves, and it’s really easy to use with a skeleton gun.

‘You can also get other instant grip glues such as “No More Nails,” which also comes ready to use without additional equipment, but might be slightly more expensive. 

‘They will do the same job as GripFill and do exactly what they are saying – no need to nail or pin the skirting to the wall to secure it. I would suggest making sure the wall and skirting are completely sound and straight to avoid any gaps when fitting them, though.’

PVA glue

Another handy and commonly-used adhesive is PVA glue, explains Thomas.

He continues: ‘This white glue is designed for porous materials such as plaster and MDF, which is why it comes in large tubs for general building use or in small bottles as wood glue. 

‘PVA can be diluted to work as a primer on walls or mixed with sawdust to create a filler. Straight out of the bottle, it’s handy for bonding wooden joints around the home when you’re building furniture or carrying out repairs.’

But Thomas stresses that PVA glues do vary in strength, and some are more water-resistant than others.

He adds: ‘If you’re using it to join wood, you may need to clamp the pieces together while the glue dries to get a good bond and or reinforce the joint with screws.’

Gorilla glue

‘Newer and stronger hybrid glues, such as Clear Gorilla Glue, are being used more frequently for small DIY jobs and repairs,’ says Thomas.

This type of glue forms a very strong bond on many common materials including wood, glass, ceramic and metal – and is great for smaller DIY projects, like upcycling furniture or making a windowpane-style mirror.

Thomas adds: ‘The glue is activated by dampening the surfaces and works best by clamping the glued sections together.’

Contact glue

‘Contact glue is another adhesive that you may come across while you’re DIY-ing,’ adds Thomas.

‘This type of glue comes as a spray or in a tube, and in different strengths. You need glue on both surfaces you wish to join. Some versions stick in seconds and there’s no need for clamping to get a good fix. 

‘This type of glue is useful for a wide range of projects, such as laying floor coverings and attaching decorative cornicing.’

Polyurethane

For those not clued-up, polyurethane is a very strong multi-purpose glue and is best used in situations where other glues won’t work – such as areas with high-moisture or when bonding different materials together.

Fabric glue

You guessed it, fabric glue is used for fixing cushions, upholstery, curtains and more. While sewing might be the more superior option, fabric glue is quicker for joining two materials together.

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