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Be Sure to Get the Right Type of Construction Adhesive

If you plan on joining any materials for one of your upcoming projects, you’ll want to consider purchasing a construction adhesive. This is a specially formulated type of adhesive that bonds two surfaces together in a manner that’s often just as effective as using screws, nails, or rivets. Trust us when we say that having a quality construction adhesive on hand will make your life a lot easier!

Construction Adhesive

In this article, we’ll discuss all the things you should know before shopping: what types of construction adhesives there are, what factors to consider before making your purchase, and which products we personally recommend.

Top Picks

Now for the part, you’ve been waiting for: our top construction adhesive picks! We’ve done our best to include a variety of adhesives to give you a nice sampling of what’s out there. Each product on our list is of high quality and from a trusted brand; if you opt to use one of them, you can know you’re in good hands.

Fast, strong bonding on most materials:  Gorilla Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive

“This adhesive from Gorilla is the best overall product on our list, with a fast drying time and strong bonding.”

A strong, quality grip with a longer curing time: Loctite PL Premium Polyurethane Construction Adhesive

“This construction adhesive, featuring a strong grip and permanent bonding, is perfect for a variety of indoor and outdoor projects.”

Use in extreme conditions: Liquid Nails Extreme Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive

“Adhesives tend to be weather-sensitive, but this one from Liquid Nails boasts a highly weather-resistant formula you can depend on all year long.”

Indoor projects involving tile: DAP Weldwood Multi-Purpose Ceramic Tile Adhesive

“Tile projects are pretty “in” right now, so you’d better grab a quality tile adhesive—like this one from DAP!”

A strong but flexible grip: Loctite Power Grab Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive

“New to using construction adhesive? Then you’ll want to buy one with a flexible formula, which Loctite just so happens to provide in this adhesive.”

Incredible longevity, versatility, and flexibility: DAP Polyurethane Construction Adhesive and Sealant

“Adhesive is the kind of thing you want to last a good long while—how does 50 years sound? Then you’ll want to go ahead and add this adhesive/sealant combo to your cart!”

Types of Construction Adhesive

There are numerous types of construction adhesives available today, so it’s only natural to be cautious about picking the best one for your project. To give you a little headway, here is a little information on the most common types of construction adhesives. Do note that this list is not exhaustive, and you’re bound to come across adhesive types not mentioned here. Our goal for now is to give you a ballpark idea of what you can expect to find.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane adhesive is a popular choice due to its versatility; it can be used to bind a number of different materials and surfaces, and you can find it in formulas of one or two components. This type of adhesive is resistant to moisture and is known for its quick bonding time and longer setting time. Because it dries so quickly, you’ll need to be careful not to get this on your skin or on any unintended items; it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remove once dry.

Epoxy

Epoxy adhesives make use of two components and can also be used with a number of different materials. You can purchase epoxy adhesives in either liquid or paste form, and epoxies are much easier to clean than polyurethane should you err during the application process. Epoxy is also known for its ability to fill wood gaps.

Acrylic

Acrylic is a favorite among woodworkers and DIYers for its flexibility in bonding a number of materials and surfaces—not to mention how cost-effective it is! This type of adhesive is strong enough to substitute for a range of other joining techniques, making it a convenient option for the majority of bonding jobs.

Hot Melt

Consisting of thermo-plastic, hot melt adhesives are unique in their formulation and setting method. They have fewer VOCs than most other adhesives, remove the need for clamping due to their non-foam setting technique, and are water-resistant. The typical setting time is around thirty seconds.

Contact Cement

Contact cement adhesive features a rubber base that provides a strong, permanent bond. You can use this type of adhesive to bond a variety of materials and surfaces, including nonporous mediums; this is because contact cement actually works by bonding with itself when applied to both of the intended pieces. The bonding happens right away despite its relatively slow drying time (15 to 20 minutes); while this means you need to be extra-careful while joining the materials, it also means you don’t need to worry about clamping. You can purchase water- or solvent-based varieties of contact cement; the former is more eco-friendly than the latter. This is all-around a strong and reliable type of adhesive.

How to Choose the Right Adhesive for Your Project

Now that you know what some of the most popular adhesive types are, let’s discuss what you need to consider before making a purchase. Each type of adhesive has its own unique characteristics, so in order to determine the best one for you, it’s crucial to keep the following factors in mind.

Surface Type

This refers to the surfaces you plan on bonding. You should consider this first and foremost, because using the wrong type of adhesive for a given surface will be, to be put it lightly, ineffective.

You can find plenty of adhesives that can be used with several surface types, as well as those that are best suited for one or two types. Once you know which surfaces you’ll be bonding, simply read the labels on any adhesives you’re considering to see if they can be used with those materials.

Conditions

In this case, “conditions” refer to the surrounding environment or the circumstances under which you’ll be bonding the surfaces. This is important to consider because some adhesives offer water- and/or UV-resistant properties, in addition to other protective measures. If you know that the surfaces you’re bonding will be exposed to moisture or excessive sun exposure, it would be wise to opt for one of these options.

Drying and Curing Times

The drying time is how long it takes for the adhesive to dry, while the curing time is how long it takes for the adhesive to crystallize (completely bond). There is no “right” or “wrong” drying or curing time, though you may want to opt for adhesives that offer shorter times if you’re in a hurry to get a project done.

Strength

The strength of your adhesive determines how much pressure it can withstand before succumbing and breaking the bond. This pressure is measured in PSI (Pound-force per Square Inch), and adhesives with higher PSI ratings have greater strength.

Longevity

This refers to how long the adhesive will be effective. While the adhesive’s longevity partially depends on external factors (such as elemental exposure), you should opt for adhesives that are marketed as long-lasting.

Application

There are a few different application methods for construction adhesives. While the application method is not the most essential factor in determining your purchase, you should keep it in mind to ensure you have the time and means to apply it correctly. You can find the proper application method for the product in the included instructions or on the manufacturer’s website.

The Best Construction Adhesives

Gorilla Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive

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If you’ve ever used Gorilla Glue—you know, that little tube you keep in the kitchen drawer dedicated to random items—then you know that this brand means business. Its Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive is the ideal choice for little projects around the house or for larger-scale building projects. You can use this product to join two surfaces and to fill in gaps in the wood. It boasts a super-fast 30-second hold time, offers effective bonding for a range of different materials, and is a paintable formula. You’ll also appreciate its low odor, low VOC count, and its weather-resistance. Gorilla has more than delivered with this insanely effective formula!

Loctite PL Premium Polyurethane Construction Adhesive

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This one-component polyurethane construction adhesive from Loctite boasts many of the same features as the previous product: versatile application, a strong bond, weather-resistance, a paintable formula, and a low VOC count. One key difference is that this adhesive has a longer set time (30 minutes) and cure time (24 hours), though it does provide a long-lasting permanent bond you can rely on—not to mention it’s just a little bit less expensive!

Liquid Nails – Extreme Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive

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A construction adhesive should be like a trusty companion—something you can rely on in a pinch, through thick and thin. Liquid Nails gets this, which shines through in every aspect of its Extreme Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive. The adhesive formula is housed in a durable, easily portable tube that you can take with you anywhere, anytime. It can be used all year round no matter the weather, and its UL Environment certification attests to its eco-friendliness. The only drawback of this adhesive is its longer dry and cure times; if you need something bonded right away, this may not be the most ideal product for you. That said, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better construction adhesive for on-the-go use, smaller projects, or last-minute fixes.

Dap 25190 Weldwood Multi-Purpose Ceramic Tile Adhesive

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If there’s a tile project in your near future—hello, DIY home improvement!—then you should definitely consider opting for a dedicated tile adhesive. In this category, there are few that can compete with the Weldwood Multi-Purpose Ceramic Tile Adhesive from DAP. Formulated for interior use on both ceramic and mosaic tiles, this adhesive is water-resistant, has a low VOC count and virtually no odor, and is even non-flammable. As for user-friendliness, this adhesive is super-easy to spread and can be cleaned up in a pinch (because adhesive, by nature, is pretty messy…). And you won’t be waiting around forever while it bonds, either—it holds to the material quickly, so you can go about your day worry-free.

Henkel Corporation Adhesive

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“Power Grab.” That just says it all, doesn’t it? With the Power Grab Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive from Loctite, you get a strong adhesion that will stand the test of time. Better still, the formula allows for a 15-minute adjustment period, where you can adjust the two surfaces as needed—no more panic attacks when the instant bond kicks in as you realize the pieces are not aligned. Its user-friendliness doesn’t end there: you can also apply this adhesive to wood that is wet or frozen (not a common feature among adhesives) and it’s certified safe for use in schools and around children. Loctite just took the construction adhesive game up a notch.

Dap Polyurethane Construction Adhesive and Sealant

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50 years is a long time. It’s also how long the DAP Polyurethane Construction Adhesive and Sealant is guaranteed to last—most marriages don’t even last that long. Bad joke. But seriously, there are so many things to love about this commercial-grade adhesive/sealant combo. Chief among them is that it’s permanently flexible. This means you can, over the course of 50 years, continue to make slight adjustments to the surfaces you bonded as needed. In addition, it’s paintable and can be used on a number of surfaces. Strength, longevity, flexibility…everything you could ask for in a quality construction adhesive.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Still not sure what you’re getting yourself into? Not to worry! We’ve compiled a list of answers to the most commonly asked questions about construction adhesive and its wood glue competitor.

Do I need construction adhesive?

Though you can certainly get by without construction adhesive handy, many contractors, woodworkers, and DIY woodworkers consider it a staple item. Because the adhesive is specially designed to “bond” with certain types of materials, it provides a strong and reliable hold that you won’t get from glue alone. In addition, applying construction adhesive is a much simpler way of joining materials than, say, nailing or screwing them together.

How do I store construction adhesive?

A common concern people have when using construction adhesive is how they’re going to store the leftover adhesive so that it doesn’t dry out. There are a few different methods you can use. The easiest is to simply squeeze out a little bit of glue so that it sits and dries at the tip of the applicator. This will make a natural seal that keeps air out of the tube.

Some people find that using a nail as a plug works well too, and still others seal out air using latex or plastic bags. You can find simple how-to guides for these methods online.

Whatever method you use, make sure that you keep the leftover adhesive in temperatures under 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long does it take for construction adhesive to set?

This depends on the type of adhesive, the brand, and the external conditions (such as temperature and humidity). Most construction adhesives will dry within minutes, but will not be completely set until at least a couple of days later. Before putting your construction adhesive to the test, you should probably wait up to a week to allow for complete setting.

Is Liquid Nails a construction adhesive?

Liquid Nails is a trusted brand that produces high-quality adhesives and sealants, and you can find a range of construction adhesives from this brand.

Is construction adhesive stronger than wood glue?

Not necessarily. The one advantage that wood glue has over construction adhesive is that, when used on wood, it does create a much stronger bond. However, construction adhesive is better-suited for other materials and will provide a stronger bond than wood glue in those cases.

Conclusion

Each of our top picks has something valuable to offer your upcoming project, whatever that may be. Feel free to pick through them again and pin your favorites somewhere for further consideration. But most importantly, remember that the best construction adhesive is the one that best meets your needs, preferences, and budget. We’re just here to give you a helping hand in your search.