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What are the Different Types of Temporary Adhesive?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Temporary adhesive is one that is not made to withstand extreme amounts of strain, or to last for an extended period of time. Common types can include tapes, glues, and cements. Knowing when a temporary adhesive is needed and when a stronger alternative is warranted are important to understand, as using the wrong kind can have detrimental effects on a project.

One type of temporary adhesive is common white glue. This is the most familiar type of temporary glue adhesive for most people, as it is commonly found in stores and is used routinely in schools and art classes. Although the bond created by white glue is generally relatively permanent if it is not subjected to moisture, it is not strong enough to withstand much pressure. For this reason, it is best used for minor household uses and crafts.

Another type of glue adhesive is often applied to the backs of common items to create a "sticker" adhesive. Examples include bandages, patches, children's stickers, and masking tape. These can be used for a variety of purposes, both practical and entertaining, but are not recommended for use long term. Each of these can become unbounded with only minimal pressure, and are generally used to hold something in place until a more permanent solution is implemented.

Other temporary adhesives, such as rubber cement, are also considered permanent under some conditions. If the bond is put under pressure soon enough after initial contact, the adhesive won't hold and the two adjoining items can be pulled part relatively easily. Once allowed to fully set, however, breaking the bond becomes much of a hassle. To remove this type of adhesive after it has cured, special solvents may be needed.

Temporary adhesives should not be used for a long term fix. This is especially true for items that are suspended or heavy in nature, as this could result in injury or destruction of property. Once two items are fit together correctly, a long lasting and strong adhesive should be used. Examples of this type of adhesive include light-curing adhesives, which set quickly and hold strong.

Permanent adhesives should never be used in place of a temporary adhesive because they are very difficult to remove once they have been allowed to cure. Attempting to do so could result in damage to the adjoining materials. Most permanent adhesives have to be removed by using a chemical solvent, such as paint thinner.

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Discussion Comments
By tearick — On Mar 07, 2013

I am hoping someone may help me. I need a temporary adhesive that will bond good sized sheets of meat wrapping paper to glass. It will be outdoors and needs to be up for two or three months, rain or shine. The type of meat wrapping paper that I want to use has a plastic coating on one side and that is the side that needs to go up against the glass. I am doing artwork.

By jonpurdin — On Jun 26, 2011

@rebelgurl28 - I am so sorry that you had that happen. It is possible to buy temporary adhesive spray that is made just for mounting photos. It is a 3M adhesive called Photo Mount.

There are two ways to use it. One results in a permanent mount the other results in a temporary mount. I have used it quite successfully many times.

There may be other products, but this is the one I am familiar with.

By rebelgurl28 — On Jun 23, 2011

One thing you also have to be especially careful about is that the adhesive you use will not ruin the medium you are working with.

I bought some temporary spray adhesive to mount some family pictures for a temporary display. Unfortunately some of the pictures were ruined before I realized I needed a different type of temporary adhesive.

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