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How Do I Choose the Best Spray Adhesive?

A can of spray adhesive.
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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 11 April 2014
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There is a wide variety of spray adhesives available, and choosing the best adhesive from among them will mean picking one specifically designed for the task at hand, because not all adhesives work properly with all materials. Projects that involve paper, cardboard and thin sheets of wood or other porous materials such as balsa can be glued with most general-purpose spray adhesives. Materials such as leather, vinyl, plastic and glass have spray adhesives designed just for them to ensure the best, longest-lasting bond possible. Beyond choosing a spray adhesive that is appropriate for the materials being glued, it also is important to consider whether the spray is permanent, temporary, fast-setting or repositionable.

A general-purpose spray adhesive usually is appropriate for most household projects. It is designed to be strong and permanent once dry. If the materials being glued are not heavy and are not too delicate, then a general-purpose adhesive can be an economical and practical solution. One problem with general-purpose adhesives, however, is that they often have very strong fumes and can set so quickly that it is not possible to reposition items once they touch the adhesive surface.

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For projects that are not intended to be permanent, a temporary mounting spray adhesive can be the best. These sprays make a surface tacky so items can be attached to a surface, while also having the ability to release the item once it is pulled way with sufficient force. Some types of mounting sprays have the option of being used in a permanent way, too, usually by applying the adhesive to both sides being glued, while applying it to only one side will maintain a temporary bond.

Certain types of spray adhesive can be used for more delicate projects, such as photo albums or artwork. The adhesive can be chemically designed to be archival quality, removing harmful acids and other volatile materials that could damage or discolor photographs and artwork over time. Archival-quality spray adhesives tend to be much more expensive than non-archival sprays, because the propellant sometimes used in the cans must be custom produced. In some instances, an archival spray adhesive can be used as a fixative or laminate on the surface of an item.

If the items that are being glued are heavy or made from materials with special properties, such as vinyl, metal, plastic, leather, glass or Styrofoam®, then the best choice would be a spray adhesive specifically designed for that material. A specialty adhesive is chemically designed to create a bond with a certain material in a way that is unique to that material. This can be much more effective than even the strongest general-purpose adhesive, because it plays on the strengths of the material.

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