Understanding the Different Types of Glue — Uses and Application Tips

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Glue, often overlooked in its simplicity, is the unsung hero that plays a pivotal role in holding together the fabric of our everyday lives. From the construction of intricate woodwork to the assembly of delicate crafts, the significance of glue cannot be overstated. 

So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. I’m here to give you a rundown on the various types of glues out there, breaking them down by their chemistry, form, and how to use them effectively. Trust me, knowing your adhesives is the secret to craftsmanship that lasts.

Types of Glue and Their Uses

Choosing the appropriate glue for your projects goes beyond convenience; it’s a strategic choice that profoundly impacts the success of your endeavors. 


Glues can be broadly classified based on their chemical composition, physical form, structure, and intended application. Each category offers unique properties tailored to specific tasks, materials, and conditions. 

3 Types of Glue by Chemical Composition

1. Epoxy Glue

Epoxy glue, a stalwart in the adhesive realm, is prized for its unparalleled strength, versatility, and impressive durability. Epoxy forms robust bonds across a broad spectrum of materials by combining two components- a resin and a hardener. 

Its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, chemicals, and moisture renders it a prime choice for outdoor applications, metal bonding, and structural tasks. 

Achieving optimal results with epoxy glue involves meticulous mixing of resin and hardener in the prescribed ratios. Thorough surface preparation is equally critical, ensuring the adhesive’s capacity to form unyielding bonds.

2. Polyimide Glue

When it comes to high-stakes applications like electronics and insulation, polyimide glue really stands out. It’s a high-performance adhesive that I’ve come to rely on for its durability and resilience.

polyimide adhesive

Distinguished by its exceptional thermal stability and electrical insulation properties, this glue finds its niche in applications demanding resistance to extreme temperatures. 

Achieving the adhesive’s full potential hinges on the proper usage of solvents during application and precise adherence to curing methods, ensuring that the bonds formed are both enduring and resilient.

3. Polyurethane Glue

When adaptability meets strength, polyurethane glue emerges as a formidable contender. 

Its permanently elastic nature and resistance to damp conditions make it an invaluable adhesive choice for outdoor furniture, marine projects, and wood joints susceptible to movement.

This adhesive’s ability to withstand dynamic forces without compromising its integrity underscores its significance. 

polyurethane glue

I can’t stress enough the importance of sticking to the recommended bonding techniques with polyurethane glue. Doing it right means you get the most out of its tenacity, especially in environments that put it to the test.

7 Types of Glue by Physical Form

1. Liquid Glue

Liquid glue, with its fluid consistency and excellent penetration capabilities, offers a versatile adhesive solution for various materials. 

The application process involves spreading the glue evenly over the surfaces to be bonded, allowing it to seep into pores and imperfections. 

Liquid glue’s unique advantage lies in its ability to adapt to irregular shapes and surfaces. While it provides ample time for adjustments due to its slower drying process, it requires careful handling to avoid spills and messes.

2. Paste Glue

Thick and viscous, paste glue is a gap-filling champion that excels in situations where precise alignment of components is challenging. Its high viscosity ensures it stays in place even on vertical surfaces, eliminating the need for constant support during curing. 

paste glue

From my own bench, I can tell you paste glue is a game-changer for woodworking projects where joints need to fit just so. I often use a caulk gun to apply it—it gives me the control and precision I need to lay down the adhesive exactly where it’s supposed to go.

3. Film Glue

Film glue, characterized by its uniform thickness and consistent distribution, finds its purpose in applications where precision and reliability are paramount. 

The adhesive is typically applied as a thin film, ensuring that the glue is evenly distributed without any excess. 

This quality makes film glue an excellent choice for electronics, automotive assembly, and intricate crafts. Film glue maintains delicate components’ aesthetic and functional integrity by creating thin, transparent adhesive layers.

4. Pellet Glue / Hot Glue

Pellet glue, often hot glue, stands out as a thermosetting adhesive solution. It is supplied in solid form and melts when subjected to high temperatures. The melted adhesive solidifies upon cooling, creating a solid bond between the adhered surfaces. 

glue pellets

This quick-setting property makes hot glue suitable for various applications, from crafting to woodworking. Hot glue is compatible with glue guns, devices that heat the adhesive pellets to the required temperature for application. But how to use hot glue guns properly? Read next!

Its versatility in adhering to diverse materials and its fast setting time renders hot glue a popular choice for professional and amateur craftsmen. But does hot glue work well on wood? Read next!

5. Glue Pen

Precision and transparency are the hallmarks of the glue pen, a specialized adhesive applicator designed for delicate tasks and intricate projects. 

The glue pen’s narrow tip allows for controlled and targeted adhesive application, making it an ideal choice for jobs that require precision and accuracy. 

Whether you’re working on fine detailing for crafts or bonding small components, the glue pen offers control that minimizes the risk of excess glue spreading beyond the intended area. 

glue pen

Additionally, its transparent finish ensures that the adhesive doesn’t mar the project’s aesthetics.

6. Glue Dots

Glue dots, available in rolls, sheets, or dispensers, provide a convenient adhesive solution for lightweight objects and temporary bonding needs. These dots are solidified adhesive, allowing mess-free application without spreading or distributing glue.

Glue dots are versatile and easy to use, making them suitable for quick fixes, attaching accessories, or securing objects temporarily. 

The convenience of glue dots lies in their pre-formed shape and size, eliminating the need for measuring and cutting adhesive materials.

7. Glue Stick

As someone who’s frequented more craft rooms and workshops than I can count, I’ve seen my fair share of glue sticks. They’re the go-to for a quick fix on paper projects—just pop the cap off, twist it up, and you’ve got a solid adhesive that’s easy to handle and dries fast. Those plastic tubes are pretty handy for keeping things mess-free, too.

glue stick used on paper

The adhesive’s quick drying time minimizes the need for clamping or holding materials in place during the curing process. 

This feature, combined with the low mess associated with glue sticks, makes them particularly popular for educational purposes and projects involving lightweight materials such as paper and cardboard.

6 Types of Glue by Structure

1. Thermosetting Glue

Thermosetting glue, often comprising two separate components—a resin and a hardener—exemplifies a versatile adhesive solution. 

The adhesive components must be thoroughly mixed before application, activating a chemical reaction that initiates the curing process. 

Thermosetting glue provides a reasonable “pot life,” the adhesive remains workable after mixing. This feature allows for intricate assembly, precise positioning, and adjustments before the adhesive sets. 

thermosetting glue

The ability to achieve a strong and lasting bond while accommodating the nuances of assembly renders thermosetting glue a valuable asset in woodworking and various crafting endeavors.

2. Hot Melt Glue

Hot melt glue, distinguished by its solid form at room temperature, becomes liquid when exposed to heat, enabling it to flow and bond materials upon application. The adhesive solidifies as it cools, forming a robust bond between the adhered surfaces. 

The quick-setting nature of hot melt glue makes it a preferred choice for projects that demand rapid assembly and immediate bonding. It is trendy in woodworking, packaging, and crafts, where efficiency and speed are paramount.

Its ability to provide a strong and reliable bond in a short amount of time ensures that projects are completed efficiently without compromising on quality.

3. Reactive Hot Melt Glue

I’ve come to appreciate the robustness of reactive hot melt glue. It’s a step above your standard hot melts, thanks to the way it restructures chemically as it cures—giving it that extra bit of strength and durability we often need.

reactive hot melt glue

This reordering of molecular structures results in a strong and resilient bond against various stressors, including heat, moisture, and mechanical forces.

Reactive hot melt glue is favored in applications with exceptional bond strength, like heavy-duty machinery, vehicles, and structures. 

Its ability to withstand challenging conditions while maintaining integrity makes it an invaluable asset in projects that demand the highest performance levels.

4. Contact Glue

Contact glue, also known as contact adhesive or cement, involves applying adhesive to both surfaces that need to be bonded. The surfaces are pressed together once the adhesive is used, creating an instant bond.

Contact glue forms an interlocking bond resistant to separation, making it ideal for applications where a solid and enduring connection is crucial. 

contact cement

This adhesive’s unique feature of bonding upon contact eliminates the need for clamping or holding materials together while the adhesive cures. Contact glue is handy for projects involving large surfaces or materials that are challenging to clamp.

5. Pressure Sensitive Glue

Pressure-sensitive glue, characterized by its high viscosity and tackiness, forms bonds when pressure is applied between two adhered surfaces. The adhesive adheres upon contact, creating an immediate bond that doesn’t require heat or curing time.

Pressure-sensitive glue is commonly used in the form of adhesive tapes and adhesive-backed materials. It is particularly effective for lightweight bonding applications, such as attaching labels, securing packaging, or creating temporary bonds. 

The adhesive’s ability to bond quickly upon contact simplifies the assembly process and minimizes the need for additional tools or equipment.

6. Rubber Cement

In my toolbox, rubber cement has a permanent place because of its unique composition. Made with elastic polymers mixed into solvents, it goes on easily and cures to a rubbery texture. This elasticity makes it invaluable in jobs that require a bit of give after setting.

rubber cement

This unique texture provides flexibility to the bonded materials, allowing them to absorb vibrations and movements without compromising the adhesive’s integrity. 

Rubber cement is commonly used in applications requiring flexibility, such as attaching materials to curved surfaces, creating joints that absorb shocks, or adhering to materials that may undergo expansion and contraction. 

Its ability to provide both adhesion and flexibility makes rubber cement a versatile choice in projects where dynamic forces come into play.

7 Types of Glue by Application

1. Wood Glue

Wood glue, often called woodworking glue or carpenter’s glue, is a category of adhesives explicitly designed for bonding wood materials. 

Among the types of wood glue available, yellow glue is a popular choice due to its versatility and compatibility with various wood species. Yellow glue, known as aliphatic resin glue, comprises polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and water. 

applying Gorilla wood glue

This adhesive forms strong and reliable bonds between wood surfaces, making it a staple in woodworking projects. 

Successful wood bonding with yellow glue involves ensuring proper surface preparation and clamping during curing. The best wood glue dries clear, maintaining the aesthetics of the wood while providing robust joint strength.

2. White Glue

White glue, also known as school glue or PVA glue (polyvinyl acetate), is a versatile adhesive that finds its place in various applications, particularly in arts, crafts, and lightweight projects. 

This adhesive’s water-based composition makes it safe and easy to use, as it is non-toxic and cleans up easily with water.

White glue is known for its flexibility and compatibility with different materials, including paper, cardboard, fabric, and certain plastics. 

glue on paper

Its application involves spreading the adhesive [1] evenly over the surface to be bonded, allowing it to create a strong bond as it dries. White glue is ideal for projects requiring a reliable and non-permanent adhesive solution.

3. Ceramic Glue

Ceramic glue is formulated to bond ceramic materials, creating solid and durable connections that withstand the rigors of time and use. 

The adhesive properties of ceramic glue are tailored to the unique characteristics of ceramics, ensuring that the bond remains intact even under conditions of heat, moisture, and external stress. 

Specific formulations of ceramic glue are designed to be food-grade, making them suitable for bonding ceramic utensils and containers that come into contact with food. 

ceramic glue

When dealing with ceramics, I’ve come to rely on ceramic glue. Its real talent lies in creating strong, lasting bonds, even when the heat is on. Whether I’m mending a broken piece or crafting something new, this glue is indispensable for its steadfast hold.

4. Plastic Glue

Plastic glue encompasses a range of adhesive solutions designed to bond plastic materials together. The diverse nature of plastics, each with its composition and characteristics, demands adhesive options that cater to different types of plastics. 

Super glue, known as cyanoacrylate adhesive, is famous for bonding plastics due to its rapid setting time and strong bond formation. For plastic materials that require more robust connections, plastic welding adhesives offer a solution.

These adhesives create chemical bonds between plastic surfaces, mimicking the welding process by melting and fusing the plastic. 

plastic glue

Selecting the appropriate adhesive for plastic bonding depends on factors such as the type of plastic, the required bond strength, and the application’s specific demands.

5. Metal Glue

Metal glue provides an alternative to traditional metal joining methods like welding and soldering. When welding is not feasible or desired, metal adhesives effectively bond metal surfaces together. 

The choice of metal adhesive depends on the specific type of metal being bonded, the intended application, and the required strength of the bond. 

Epoxy adhesives, for example, can provide robust and durable connections between metal surfaces, provided that proper surface preparation is carried out. 

metal glue

Metal glue’s ability to create reliable bonds without needing heat or special equipment makes it a valuable asset in metalworking and various applications involving metal materials. Check out the best glues for metal to wood here!

6. Glass Glue

Glass glue addresses the delicate challenge of bonding glass materials, which are known for their transparency and fragility. Glass bonding requires specialized adhesives that can provide strong connections without compromising the aesthetics of the glass. 

Transparent or clear adhesives are often used to ensure that the bond remains inconspicuous, allowing the beauty of the glass to shine through. 

These adhesives are engineered to provide durable connections while maintaining the visual integrity of the glass.

glass glue

Glass glue is commonly used in applications such as glass art, home decor, and repairing glass objects, where maintaining the glass’s transparency and appearance is paramount.

7. Paper Glue / Fabric Glue

Paper glue and fabric glue cater to the specific needs of paper- and fabric-based projects. These adhesives are designed to provide secure bonds without damaging the delicate materials they adhere to. 

Paper glue, often water-based and non-toxic, is ideal for various paper crafts, scrapbooking, and other paper-based projects. 

Its ability to provide reliable adhesion without causing wrinkles or stains on paper materials ensures that the aesthetic quality of the project is maintained. 

glue on paper

On the other hand, fabric glue is formulated to bond fabrics together, creating connections that withstand washing, stretching, and wear. 

Fabric glue’s flexibility and resistance to moisture make it a valuable tool in sewing, fabric crafting, and garment repair, where traditional stitching may not be suitable or desired.


I’ve been around sawdust and stains long enough to tell you one thing with certainty: glue is more than just a sticky substance in woodworking—it’s fundamental. As I’ve navigated through the myriad of adhesive choices, it’s clear to me that each type of glue brings its own set of strengths to the table.

Whether it’s the robust bonds formed by epoxy glue, the precision of glue pens, or the flexibility of rubber cement, understanding the qualities and applications of various adhesives empowers you to make informed decisions. Remember that the artistry of woodworking lies in the mastery of techniques and in selecting the right tools for the job.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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