There are many different types of adhesives on the market that can be used for scrapbooking. We haven’t tried them all, but we’re going to try to break down some of the information so you can make an informed decision on which adhesives are best for your projects. And if you happen to see someone else standing in the glue aisle staring blankly at the rows of adhesives, do her a favor and send her back here.
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First, let’s go over a few basics terms, and what they mean.
Permanent: Once you glue it to the page, it can’t be removed without causing damage or tearing the paper.
Repositionable: This one isn’t as cut and dry as permanent. A repositional adhesive will allow you to lift, move, and re-adhere whatever you’re gluing down. But long term results will vary with different manufacturers. Some repositional adhesives are only repositional for a brief period, and will then become permanent-like. Keep in mind that even if your repositional adhesive seems to become permanent, it’s typically not as strong as a true permanent adhesive in the long term. Other repositionables will remain tacky or sticky forever. Repositional glues can come in handy, but we don’t personally use them a lot ourselves, mostly because they don’t have the long term strength of a permanent.
Photo Safe: Does not contain the acid found in some adhesives, and will not damage photographs. Non photo safe adhesives contain acid that, over time, will eventually cause damage to the photograph. If you’re making a project that’s going to be around a long time, you probably want to use a photo safe adhesive on your photographs. Keep in mind that if you’re worried about acid damaging your project, the adhesive isn’t the only item that will need to be acid free. Your paper, markers, stickers, and anything else that’s going to come into contact with your photograph will need to be acid free as well. Acid free products will be marked as “acid free”, “photo safe”, or “archival”. With all that said, we don’t personally always use acid free adhesives on our photographs. A lot of our projects are simply craft projects, and we aren’t worried about whether they’ll be kept forever. In these cases we sometimes use adhesives that aren’t deemed “photo safe”. We don’t know how long it takes for photographs to begin showing signs of damage from acid in adhesives and other products. We currently have projects that are five years old with no signs of damage. Of course, your own results will vary and you will need to choose what works best for you and your project.
Now let’s get into the different categories of adhesives.
Tape Runners: Come in permanent and repositionable. Some tape runners have refillable guns, and some are disposable. They’re great for adhering paper to paper, and photographs to paper. Not the best choice for adhering embellishments that have any amount of weight to them.
Our Favorites: Scotch ATG 700 Adhesive Applicator
Liquid Adhesives: There are many to choose from. For this group we would split them into “regular” and “quick dry”. Quick dry glues will typically dry in about a half hour, whereas a regular glue usually takes two hours or more to dry. We typically choose a quick dry glue, but there’s really no difference in the strength of a regular versus a quick dry. We use quick drying liquid adhesive more than any other adhesive. We use them for gluing paper to paper, photos to paper, and for embellishments.
E6000: We’re putting this brand in it’s own category because it’s stronger than any other adhesive we use. As described by the manufacturer, E6000 is a clear, industrial strength, permanent adhesive. We use E6000 whenever we’re adhering a heavier embellishment, such as one made of metal or wood. E6000 is really strong, but takes a long time to dry. Because of this, we almost always use hot glue in conjunction with E6000. If you use a bit of hot glue along with your E6000, you get the instant hold from quick-drying hot glue, and the long lasting hold from the stronger E6000.
Our Favorite: E6000 Craft Adhesive
Double Sided Tapes: Rolls of tape that are sticky on both sides. Not all double sided tapes are created equally, with some being much stronger than others. Two double sided tapes, Scor-Tape and Ranger Wonder Tape, are incredibly sticky with a super long lasting hold. It’s strong enough that we’ve used them to create the binding for mini scrapbook albums. Another idea is to run a line of tape onto your project, then sprinkle it with glitter, microbeads or embossing powder.
Glue Sticks: Probably best used for gluing paper to paper. We don’t personally use glue sticks on our projects because we don’t find them to have the same holding power as a liquid adhesive. They’re definitely easy to use and low mess, and would be a great option if you’re crafting with children.
Hot Glue: We love glue guns, and they’re great for some projects. They’re fast drying and have an instant hold. But the surfaces of the objects you’re gluing together will determine how long lasting the hold will be. If you’re gluing something like a fabric, hot glue can have a strong, long lasting hold. If you’re gluing something with a smooth surface, such as metal or glass, the item could eventually fall off over time. We’re in love with the Plaid Hot Glue Gun Helper Kit. We use it every time we get the hot glue gun out. The kit has protective finger caps (they’re like thimbles for hot glue) and little tools to use so you don’t burn your fingers on the hot glue. Our finger tips are a lot happier since we found this kit!
Glue Pens: Used like a ball point pen, but it’s glue instead of ink. Glue pens are great when you’re doing something intricate, or need to get a small amount of glue in just the right place. And just like the double sided tapes, you can draw or write something with a glue pen, then sprinkle glitter or embossing powder on top. (Bonus: if you have a Cricut, the EK Tools Jumbo Tip glue pen is awesome for making your cutting mat sticky again).
So that’s our take on adhesives. Remember, it’s important to choose your adhesive based on the project, and one adhesive won’t be the best choice for all projects. Opinions will always vary on what the best adhesives are for scrapbooking, but once you’ve used a few of them yourself, you’ll find your own favorites!
This post is part of a series of scrapbooking techniques called Scrap Basics. To see more Scrap Basics, click here.
Do you already have a favorite adhesive? If you have experience using one of the adhesives above, or know of a great one we didn’t mention, please share it with us!