Construction adhesives provide an efficient and effective way to glue up projects ranging from DIY crafts to homebuilding. These adhesives work by forming a molecular bond with the construction material, but they do not all establish bonds the same way.
With a large market filled with options, finding the right adhesive for your construction job can be challenging. This guide will help you determine the best construction adhesives for your projects and find the right one for you.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Construction Adhesive
Not all construction adhesives are created equal. Surface type, drying time, strength, and application methods impact finding the product for the task at hand. Read on to find out what you need to know for selecting the best construction adhesive for the job.
Many adhesives work by bonding with the construction material on a molecular level, and there is no one construction adhesive for all applications. Metal, concrete, glass, and wood have different molecular and chemical properties. Choosing a construction adhesive formulated specifically for the materials in your project is paramount.
The best construction adhesives for wood have elastomeric properties, meaning they can flex with the material and resume their shape. Silicon-based adhesives offer waterproofing capabilities and flexibility, while superglues offer rigid bonding that lacks flexibility. Nonporous and smooth surfaces like plastic or metal do not adhere as readily as rough materials like sawn wood.
Achieving a full strength bond with your construction adhesive involves two processes: drying and curing. Manufacturers add liquid agents to adhesives that soften the compound for application. After application, the carrier component evaporates. The adhesive dries as the carrier evaporates, leaving behind a bond between materials. This process is also known as bonding.
Curing is a chemical process during which the adhesive crystallizes. Upon final crystallization, the adhesive achieves its full strength. Don’t be fooled by a dry construction adhesive, as dry does not necessarily mean your project is ready for the next step.
Adhesives vary on drying and curing times. Some adhesives bond fully within moments, while others take up to several days to fully cure. A slow-drying construction adhesive is not ideal when working on a time-sensitive project.
Strength is a critical consideration in construction adhesives. An adhesive unequal to the job could result in a ruined project. Scientists and manufacturers consider a bond’s strength through two measures: lap shear strength and peel strength.
A lap shear test measures an adhesive’s ability to withstand stress when the glue moves laterally to the repaired material.
Peel strength measures adhesive strength under perpendicular pressure.
Construction adhesives are designed to bond permanently but may fail or disintegrate if exposed to extreme pressure or environmental factors.
As anyone who has ever accidentally glued their fingers together can attest, applying construction adhesives can be tricky. Each product varies in best application practices, so the most crucial thing to do is consult the directions for the manufacturer’s best recommendation.
What nearly all manufacturers agree on is the importance of cleaning the material before application. Usually, a 50:50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water washes away oils and dirt that may interfere with the adhesive.
Reading the full directions and having everything prepared for the job can be the difference between a neatly adhered project and a sticky disaster.
Our Top Picks
Many different types of quality adhesives are available for construction applications. After considering material type, drying time, and overall efficacy, the following products were chosen from among the best construction adhesives.1Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Gorilla calls their heavy-duty adhesive all-weather and all-purpose, and with good reason. It is waterproof, suitable for indoor and outdoor use, creates a bond in 30 seconds, and sticks to everything from mirror to marble. This adhesive has no water or solvents to evaporate, so drying time is fast.
This construction adhesive requires a caulk gun and may not be suitable for projects requiring delicate beading. Keep in mind that this adhesive goes on white, so unless the joint is hidden or painted, it will show.2Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Loctite’s PL Premium Fast Grab Construction Adhesive is a high-strength, fast-drying adhesive that goes on tackier than some other brands. Tackier sealants take less time to form a bond. PL Premium offers a tacky formula suitable for indoor or outdoor applications and will bond materials for life.
The initial 24-hour bonding time of this Loctite adhesive provides a bond up to eight times stronger than conventional adhesives, meaning you can get on with your project sooner.3Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Liquid Nails’ extreme heavy-duty construction adhesive is suitable for those who need an ultrastrong bond in extreme temperatures. This adhesive is designed for construction in temperatures ranging from 22 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and is ideal for outdoor application.
Each 10-ounce cartridge provides 30 lineal feet of adhesive if applied in 1/4-inch beading. However, this product does not dry as fast as some other formulas. Users must allow about a day to achieve a full bond and up to a week before the cure sets completely, but this construction adhesive makes up for long drying times with utility and durability.4Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
When it isn’t possible to use real nails, Liquid Nails can save the day. This heavy-duty construction adhesive is specially formulated to bond well with wood, but also works well with stone, particleboard, brick veneer, cork, and cement. The adhesive fills gaps and is excellent for projects that require adhesives with a little flexibility.
This Liquid Nails adhesive begins drying in about 15 minutes, but the full curing process may take up to 7 days, depending on environmental factors like humidity and temperature. This adhesive is also waterproof and suitable for indoor and outdoor use.5Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Less porous materials like metal and plastic present unique obstacles for adhesives. J-B’s KwikWeld overcomes this with its two-part epoxy explicitly designed for bonding metals. KwikWeld takes as little as 6 minutes to bond and 4 to 6 hours to cure, making it fast compared to some adhesives.
This formula sets so hard that it can be sanded, molded, and filled after curing. It can withstand temperatures up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit and resist pressures of more than 3,000 pounds per square inch.
This product is different compared to other construction adhesives. Epoxies require mixing two chemicals to create a chemical reaction. The syringe design of the 25-milliliter package allows for easy mixing and reuse, but does not contain as much adhesive as a manually mixed 10-ounce package.6Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
This epoxy from PC Products is excellent for a range of indoor and outdoor concrete applications. It dries within 20 minutes and bonds entirely in about 4 hours. The tacky adhesive resists moisture for application in damp or even aquatic environments. The ultrastrong hold is suitable for anchoring rods, bolts, and dowels.
This epoxy is also excellent for filling and repairing cracks in masonry or grout and withstands temperatures ranging from -20 degrees to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The dual-tube design takes some of the mess out of mixing the epoxy for easy application.7Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Dap’s formula is explicitly designed for use on ceramic tiles but also bonds well to masonry, plaster, gypsum, and plywood. Unlike other adhesives that require mixing chemicals or the use of a caulk gun, Dap’s formula spreads on with a trowel and provides a quick-grabbing bond that eliminates the need to brace up the tile before installation.
Be aware this Dap adhesive is not suitable for tiles larger than 8 inches by 8 inches and should not be used for bonding to nonporous substrates like metal or plastic.
FAQs About Your New Construction Adhesive
Do you still have some lingering questions about adhesives? Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions to help you choose the best construction adhesive for your project.
Construction adhesives are primarily designed to be permanent. Some of the strongest adhesives can hold hundreds of pounds, though relying purely on adhesives for a load-bearing project is inadvisable.
Drying can occur in as little as a few seconds in superglues, while other types of adhesives may take days or longer to achieve full strength.
Adhesives take between a few minutes to several days to completely bond and cure.
Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the best methods for utilizing your construction adhesive, as adhesive application varies from product to product. Epoxies require mixing chemicals, while silicone and glue-based adhesives are ready to be applied out of the container.
Manufacturers design construction adhesive to be extremely durable, but even the most stalwart formulas break down under the pressure of time. Construction adhesives may last for years, but improperly applied adhesives could break down far sooner.
Construction adhesives break down under heat. To remove an adhesive, heat the bond with a hair dryer or heat gun. When the adhesive softens, scrape it off with a putty knife.