On the market there are currently a large number of products for gluing paper and cardboard. The best glue for cardboard is usually white glue, although sometimes it may be more convenient to use other types of adhesives.
Other types of glue for paper and cardboard
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What is the best glue for cardboard?
The cardboard glue par excellence is white glue. This glue, whose official name is polyvinyl acetate or PVA, also has other names depending on the country. For example, vinyl adhesive, cold glue, and school glue.
In some cases, by extension, white glue takes the name of the company that produces it, such as Elmer’s glue (in the US) or Resistol glue (in Latin America).
White glue is a relatively recent invention. It was invented in 1912 by a German chemist named Fritz Klatte, and has since become the most popular cardboard glue (used for both corrugated and laminated cardboard). It is the adhesive most used by box manufacturers to glue cardboard boxes.
Why does white glue work so well for gluing paper and cardboard?
In addition to creating a very strong bond, white glue has many other advantages.
- White glue takes advantage of the porous properties of the cardboard (which favor the absorption of water) to penetrate the pores of the cardboard, which causes a deep and firm adhesion.
- Polyvinyl acetate is also perfect for gluing paper and cardboard tubes.
It dries quickly (between 45 minutes and an hour).
- Once dried, white glue becomes transparent.
- Its bond resists very well over the time.
- PVA can also be used to harden cardboard.
- White glue not only sticks paper and cardboard, but also other materials such as wood, fabric, wicker, polystyrene and cork.
- It is a cheap and easy to get.
- PVA is perfect for working with children as it is a water-based glue, thanks to which it does not release toxic vapors and is not flammable.
- It can be thinned by adding a little water.
How to glue cardboard to other materials
Despite all its advantages, white glue also has its limitations.
White glue is not suitable for gluing cardboard with materials such as metal, plastic, rubber, glass, stone, etc.
In these cases, there are three glues that will be of great help:
- contact cement
- epoxy glue
- hot glue
Let’s take a closer look at them.
Contact cement is a neoprene based adhesive that provides a very firm bond and is widely used in industry. It is the most used shoe glue.
Unlike other glues, contact adhesives must be allowed to dry before bonding, making them ideal for bonding smooth surfaces. I do not recommend it for gluing cardboard to cardboard, but you will find it useful if you need the joint to be stronger than normal.
It is a very suitable adhesive to stick cardboard to all kinds of materials: leather, glass, metal, wood, cardboard, pen, plastic, rubber, stone, etc., as long as they are indoors. If you decide to use it as an adhesive for cardboard, keep in mind that it does not resist humidity or heat.
Contact glue is used differently than white glue. You must first apply the glue to the two surfaces you want to join, and then you must let it dry for a few minutes. When you notice that the glue is no longer tacky to the touch, bond the two surfaces together tightly, and allow them to dry with a weight on top for 24 hours.
You will have an almost indestructible union (it will be easier to break the cardboard will break than the union).
Important: make sure you work in a very well-ventilated area, as its vapors are toxic. Also make sure there is no flame nearby, as it is a flammable product.
Epoxy glue comes in two separate tubes, the contents of which must be mixed just before use. Doing so, a chemical reaction occurs which results in a very resistant glue.
Epoxy glue is one of the strongest adhesives in the world, making it widely used as an industrial glue.
I recommend it if you need to join cardboard to metal, stone and certain plastics. Two drawbacks to epoxy glue are that it has a rather unpleasant odor and you need to let it dry for 24 hours (unless you are using fast-drying epoxy glue).
Hot glue (also known as hot melt adhesive, HMA) is a sticky glue that is applied with a heat generating gun that melts it.
The hot glue gun is one of the most versatile tools of any hobbyist. With hot glue you can bond cardboard and paper to almost any other material.
Hot glue is a quick-drying adhesive (in less than a minute it is already dry) and will get you out of more trouble. If you ever need an instant glue for cardboard, don’t hesitate: grab your hot glue gun.
It is especially suitable for quickly attaching small details to cardboard and paper (for example stickers, ribbons, buttons, plates, etc.). It will also help you to do all kinds of crafts, such as the home dreamcatcher project that I propose you on my blog.
Summary of the most suitable glues for bonding cardboard to various materials
The most suitable cardboard glue depends on the material you are going to attach it to:
- cardboard and cardboard: white glue
- cardboard and paper: white glue
- cardboard and fabric: white glue / hot glue
- cardboard and plaster: white glue
- cardboard and foam board: white glue / hot glue / contact cement *
- cardboard and papier-mâché: white glue / hot glue / contact cement *
- cardboard and wood: white glue / contact cement *
- cardboard and leather: white glue / contact cement *
- cardboard and glass: epoxy glue / contact cement *
- cardboard and plastic: epoxy glue (on some plastics) / contact cement * (on some plastics)
- cardboard and PVC: contact cement *
- cardboard and polystyrene: white glue
- cardboard and EVA foam: hot glue
- cardboard and metal: epoxy glue / contact cement *
- cardboard and stone: epoxy glue / contact cement *
* Do not use contact glue if the joint must withstand high humidity or heat.
How to make glue for cardboard
You can make the cardboard glue at home. It is very easy and even fun. The paste obtained is similar to white glue.
To make homemade cardboard glue follow these steps:
- Put 120 grams of flour (one cup) in a saucepan.
- Then add 70 grams of sugar (about a third of a cup).
- Add 190 milliliters of water (about ¾ cup parts).
- Beat the mixture with some whisk rods.
- When the mixture is smooth, add 65 milliliters of water (about ¼ cup).
- Lastly, add a teaspoon of vinegar and stir a little more.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat. Keep stirring for a few minutes until the mixture has a slimy consistency.
- Pass it through a mesh strainer. Let it cool to room temperature and store it in a jar with a lid.
You will get an excellent homemade glue for cardboard. In this video you can see the whole process: