There are many sophisticated products around to make things and stick them back together when they break, but probably the one product that everyone has is the lowly substance called glue! Knowing what kind of glue works best for your project is the key to success. Here are the basic types and what they can (and can’t) do.

General purpose adhesive
It dries clear with superior strength, but stays flexible with a permanent bond. It is usually water resistant and won’t turn brittle. It can even be painted after drying.
Uses: Join two different materials with different drying times (rubber to metal); repair materials where a flexible bond is necessary like a repair to a showerhead hose leak.
Examples: Perfect for everyday repairs, even sealing sinks and countertops; repairing broken or leaking porcelain; repairing tears in canvas or upholstery,

This two-part adhesive is considered the most durable of all adhesives. It’s best suited when water or gas and oil resistance is required. Some can withstand high temperatures. It is not flexible and requires mixing.
Uses: Good for permanent repairs that don’t require flexibility and for repairs that come into contact with solvents
Examples: Connecting copper to plastic pipes

Rubber cement
This brush-on adhesive is made of white crude rubber. It works best for joining paper, both temporarily and permanently.
Uses: Apply paper liner to a drawer

Wood glue
Wood glue has been created especially for woodworking. It sands cleanly, leaves an invisible glue line and cleans up with water.
Uses: Build and fix wood projects such as cabinet doors in a bathroom or kitchen or furniture repairs

Super glue
This adhesive is useful when an immediate hold is needed. Super glue will provide a fast and dry hold without any flexibility.
Uses: Reattach a broken knob or handle

Mastics are pre-mixed adhesives used with wood, tile, Formica and ceramic. It will not stick to metal or concrete and it is not waterproof or flexible.
Uses: Attach tiles to various surfaces.

Thin-set adhesives
This mix-it-yourself mortar-based adhesive is the best choice for concrete, terra cotta and backer boards. It will not stick to non-porous surfaces and it is waterproof and flexible.
Uses: Interior or exterior tiling

Paper glue (white glue)
This works well for simple paper and wood projects. It dries quickly, but isn’t flexible or super strong and it dissolves with exposure to water.
Uses: Paper to paper adhesion and repairs to objects where a lot of stress is not involved; not recommended where water is a factor.

More Tips for Success with Adhesives:

  • Every junk drawer should be equipped with three types of glue to cover a variety of everyday needs: paper glue such as Elmer’s, general purpose glue such as Amazing GOOP and super glue such as Krazy Glue.
  • Use the right glue for the project. Indoor or outdoor project? If the project will be placed outside, the changing temperatures will cause the adhesive to expand and contract.
  • Choose a glue that dries to a rubbery, flexible finish, can handle temperature extremes and has UV resistance if the project is exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Practice on like materials before committing to a cherished keepsake, for example, and just use a little bit at a time then wipe off the excess.
  • Always read the directions to ensure best results.

Good old glue is the DIYer’s best friend. Knowing which kind to use for your project and how to use it properly will ensure a successful result.