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What are the Different Types of Clear Adhesive?

Autumn Rivers
Updated May 17, 2024
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From the construction industry to arts and crafts, adhesives are a common tool. Myriad projects may require a clear adhesive where the user wants the sealant to remain invisible. There are several kinds of clear adhesive on the market including epoxies, Liquid Nails®, laminate adhesives, and spray-on adhesives. The type of job at-hand will dictate what type of clear adhesive is best for the application.

Epoxy glue includes two components that must be blended together before application. Most epoxies dry fast and some companies even market epoxy glues that dry within five minutes. Similar to clay, it is flexible until it completely dries so it can be bent and molded into the right shape. Epoxy glues work well in filling in cracks since the glue is relatively easy to work with. Users typically should wear gloves when dealing with this type of clear adhesive as it is not water-based and sticks readily to the skin.

Liquid Nails® is a permanent sealant that usually comes in a tube and can be used for heavy duty projects, including construction. Sunlight does not cause it to discolor so it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. It is recommended for use with concrete, wood, particle board, fiberglass, metal, porcelain, ceramics, foam, and most types of plastic. Though it resists water penetration, it is generally not recommend that this glue be used below any waterline, such as inside a tub or pool.

Some projects require the use of a laminating adhesive which is a clear, plastic coating. The solvent-based type is durable, resistant to extreme weather, and is unlikely to curl over time. The water-based kind is less flammable than the solvent-based type and generally is less expensive. Many bigger businesses use laminating machines to apply clear adhesive, but individuals and small businesses often prefer the do-it-yourself kind. There are laminate adhesives that one can spray on, brush on, or stick on.

To mount lightweight products such as paper, a spray-on clear adhesive can be the best solution. It typically comes in a can and will not wrinkle or bleed through paper. Though it can be moved slightly for perfect positioning while still wet, it becomes permanent when dry.

Each type of clear adhesive comes with its own best-use recommendation. It is important to read the fine print and make sure the product is the best one for the project before buying or using. Usually plenty of options are available at stores that carry both small business and arts and crafts supplies.

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Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for About Mechanics, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.

Discussion Comments

By shell4life — On May 16, 2012

My art professor had all of his students use spray-on clear adhesive. He had us mount our artwork to matboard with this stuff, and it was really sticky.

I always sprayed mine onto the board. If you spray clear adhesive on paper, it can warp it. This usually only happens if you spray too much on, but I think it's safer to apply it to the board instead.

Immediately after spraying, I would press the paper from one corner to the opposite diagonal corner with my hands. If the medium I used might smear, I would put a piece of wax paper over it before pressing it down.

The big disadvantage to this type of adhesive is that you can't reposition your work once you have pressed it down. If you get it crooked and you attempt to remove it, you will tear it.

By kylee07drg — On May 15, 2012

@wavy58 – That does sound like an easy way to preserve your work. I am always much more impressed with businesses that have laminated cards, because it shows that they cared enough to spend the extra money to make their promotional items look great.

I'm not a designer myself, but I do love using prepackaged materials that let me do artistic things. One example is clear adhesive stickers.

These stickers are double-sided, so I can stick one side to a surface and sprinkle decorative beads or glitter on the top. I bought several adhesive stickers that featured the words, “Happy Birthday,” and I was able to use them to create several different looks on blank greeting card paper.

The letters were covered in adhesive, so colored glitter would stick only to the characters. I have used everything from cheerful cake sprinkles to shimmery powder on these stickers.

By wavy58 — On May 15, 2012

I like using clear adhesive sheets for laminating. I do a lot of freelance graphic design, and often, my projects include things like business cards and restaurant menus that look more professional when laminated.

I use a roller knife to cut the adhesive sheets to size. Since they have peel-away backing, they aren't hard to handle, and there is no messy accidental sticking to tables or hands.

These sheets are a great tool for me. Whenever a customer requests an item like a business card that will be handled often and subject to wear, I ask them if they would like it laminated. I don't have to charge much extra for this service, since I can get several uses out of just one 8.5”x11” sheet for smaller projects.

By lighth0se33 — On May 14, 2012

Rubber cement is my favorite type of clear adhesive. It comes in a bottle, and the lid is attached to a brush that rests down inside the adhesive.

Whenever I unscrew and lift the lid, the brush is full of the adhesive. I paint it onto the backs of my photographs before pressing them in a scrapbook.

Rubber cement holds the photos in place incredibly well. I don't ever have to worry about them coming loose and falling out of the book.

The only drawback to using it is the odor. It smells strongly of chemicals, so I have to open the windows and turn on the fan before using it.

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for About Mechanics, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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