Return to How To's & Project Ideas

Types of Adhesives & Sealants for the Home

Print this article Share

If you know you need to fill a gap or attach one thing to another, but after that you’re a bit stuck, this handy reference guide will help you understand the wide array of different types of adhesives and sealants available.

Sealants and adhesives can be a confusing area of DIY; some adhesives seal and some sealants stick, however there is a product designed to meet your specific need among the vast range of adhesives and sealants available. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions and use a suitable product for the job. 

Adhesives

The suitability of an adhesive to any particular job, mostly depends on the strength and viscosity of the adhesive product. It must have sufficient bonding strength to meet the task at hand, while different formulations and viscosity also suit different types of porous and non-porous materials.

Super glueSuper Glue

Super glue is the term used for any cyanoacrylate adhesive. This glue creates a strong and durable bond on metal, plastic, rubber, glass and ceramics. It bonds almost immediately, so be careful not to get any on your skin. This immediate bond to plastic does tend to cause the tube nozzle to clog, so it is handier to buy several small tubes rather than one large one.

PVAPVA glue

Cheap, readily available and gets most jobs done; PVA comes in a range of different strengths and is suitable for use on porous materials such as wood, paper, cloth and some plastic. The standard strength product is a popular choice for arts and crafts.

Epoxy resin adhesiveEpoxy Resin

Also known as two-part adhesive, epoxy resin consists of two parts: a resin and a hardener. When the two parts are mixed, a chemical reaction causes the epoxy to harden which creates a waterproof and temperature resistant bonding seal. It is also highly durable and resistant to chemicals and solvents. It is unusual in that it doesn’t shrink when curing, which further improves its strength. This is one of the most high performance glues available and is widely used in the construction and repair of aircraft, boats, automotive and sports equipment. Some of the more rigid formulations also have excellent gap-filling abilities. Epoxy resin is suitable for use on wood, metal, most plastics, glass, ceramic and stone.

Tile AdhesiveLaying tiles with tile adhesive

The most common reason for a tiling job to go wrong, is the use of the wrong adhesive. Discuss the job with a store assistant in your local Topline store, as the right adhesive will depend on the type of tile, the type of wall or floor surface, and the environment the wall or floor is in. Note that this is not the area to try to save money in; opt for quality here as it will make all the difference.

Top Tile Adhesive Tip

Spread the adhesive over the entire back of the tile, not just in dabs or else the tile may crack at a later stage. You should also work in small sections at a time, particularly if you are a beginner to tiling; otherwise the adhesive may harden before the tile is applied.

Filler adhesiveFiller Adhesive

Available in foam and paste formulations, filler is used to fill large gaps, bonding to the edges of the gap. It is strong and durable, and usually water and temperature resistant, providing insulation. It can normally be sanded and painted over once cured. Different varieties are suitable for different sized gaps and applications; for example fillers with high heat resistance are available for filling the gaps around heating pipes.

Wood glueWood Adhesive

Designed to bond two pieces of wood tightly together, wood adhesive is usually yellow and dries clear. It is available in a variety of formulations that provide different benefits such as suitability for exterior use or a fast setting time. Wood glue has the most suitable viscosity for use on timber; soaking in just the right amount for improved durability and strength. It does however have poor “grab” and gap-filling ability, so the joints need to be tight-fitting and would usually be held in a clamp while the glue sets.

Top Adhesive Tip

Note that the times given on adhesive packaging for drying and curing are based on ideal conditions. If you are working in damp, cool or poorly ventilated conditions, these times can vastly increase.

Using sealant around toiletSealants

The critical properties for a good sealant are flexibility and longevity. Any shrinkage or erosion over time will render the seal useless, so choose a high quality sealant and you will benefit from less requirement for reapplication, as well as better flexibility, corrosion resistance and moisture resistance. The higher quality sealants are also easier to work with.

Sealants can be used to seal and prime a surface prior to decorating, or they can be used to create a joint much like a filler. A joint sealant comes in a cartridge that usually requires a separate gun tool for application.

Silicone Sealant

The most popular type of joint sealant is silicone sealant. It comes in varieties for indoor or outdoor use, and for jobs that demand greater or lesser flexibility. Some variations include a fungicide making them mould-resistant and most suitable for shower and bathroom applications. Other special variations include food-grade silicone sealants which are safe for use in food preparation areas, and high temperature formulas which are useful for sealing oven doors for example.

If you need to fill a narrow gap, keep out moisture or to finish a joint, no matter where it is there is a silicone sealant that is suitable for the job.

You might also be interested in