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How to Use Spray Adhesive and Which Type is the Best?

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Written by: Jeremy Sanchez


How to Use Spray Adhesive and Which Type is the Best?

What is spray adhesive? What is it used for? How does it cure? How does it bond to materials?

In this guide, I’ll give you insights into how to spray adhesives have become some of the most popular glue types in the world. It’s been around for more than half a century.

This versatile type of glue can be used for general repairs, scrapbooking, and arts and crafts, but that’s about it.

Though, some types of spray glue have incredible tensile strength, capable of holding up to a few thousand pounds per square inch.

Stay around for more information on spray adhesives!

What is Spray Adhesive?

In short, a spray adhesive is a form of aerosol glue dispensed from an aerosol can.

The glue is kept under high pressure inside the can to aid the dispensation process when you press the button.

The glue comes out like a mist that’s easy to apply to a layered structure.

It gets complicated when you discover that spray adhesives can be made from various ingredients, leading to various adhesives with different properties.

You may have heard of plastic, silicone, vinyl, and rubber spray adhesives. There are more varieties out there, but these are the main ones.

Please take a look at my guide on gluing silicone for more tips.

Spray adhesive bottle on an orange background.

They all have something in common, though. The final bond is somewhat like plastic, with a solid texture that will remain durable for a long time.

Depending on the type of application you’re working on, you can acquire various types of spray adhesive, as well. Here are a couple of spray adhesives on the market:

  • Artists use one type of spray adhesive to perform lightweight projects. This type of glue allows for easy repositioning of the materials because it dries slower. If you’re into design creation, then this type of spray adhesive is your best choice
  • Spray fabric adhesive is used to bond fabrics
  • Spray foam adhesive is designed to bond any foam, including Styrofoam
  • Photo Mount spray adhesive is used to mount photos on the walls and in scrapbooks
  • General spray adhesive works in a wide variety of applications. Certain types of general spray adhesive are made to bond polyethylene sheets and carpet padding, while others are great for scrapbooks or building models. There are many general spray adhesives, some of which are for specific uses.

Interestingly enough, spray adhesive was invented in 1964 by a company known as 3M, which has survived until today.

3M adhesives are quite popular and very strong, as well.

Ever since the company made its first aerosol adhesive can, the concept was adopted by many companies early on.

How Does It Work?

You already know that the adhesive is pressurized inside a can. You use the aerosol to dispense the misty adhesive, but it’s more complicated.

The aerosol can is airtight, and when you press the button, the rest of the ingredients escape the can onto the material and start drying up.

Now, you may ask yourself, why doesn’t the glue dry up in the can? Because the pressurized can contains solvents, which prevent the adhesive from drying up.

However, those solvents stop functioning when the adhesive exits the can. Only the glue is left, and it will dry and cure in time.

However, this is where it gets complicated. Different spray adhesives are made from different compounds, so they’ll dry and cure in different ways.

After all, a “spray adhesive” is only an adhesive contained within a pressurized can and released in the form of an aerosol.

It’s not a specific type of adhesive compound.

Some spray adhesives cure by letting the moisture evaporate from the glue, while others need a few compounds mixed to finish the curing process.

The chemical reaction produces heat, which finishes the curing process.

How Do Spray Adhesives Cure?

As I said before, different spray adhesives cure differently depending on their chemical composition.

However, spray adhesives have one benefit in common – extremely fast drying and curing time.

Most spray adhesives will dry and cure in mere seconds after reaching the material. You’ll barely have enough time to do anything.

However, unique spray adhesives take up to 24 hours to cure.

After all, drying too quickly is a disadvantage sometimes, and some manufacturers decided to address this problem.

Some spray adhesives are specially designed to cure slower to allow you the extra time to reposition the material.

What Is the Tensile Strength of Spray Adhesives?

Like before, it’ll be difficult to answer this question because of how diverse spray adhesives are.

But, in general, some spray adhesives are weak and don’t form a permanent bond.

Others, however, are very strong and have a PSI value in the thousands.

Every square inch of glue can hold a few thousand pounds.

Generally, the more specific a spray adhesive is, the stronger it is. Many spray adhesives are sufficiently strong to hold down their intended materials for years.

As for water, heat, UV light, and solvent resistance, that’s entirely reliant on the chemical composition of the spray adhesive.

I recommend doing your research for specific spray adhesives because there’s no way I could cover everything in this article.

Every manufacturer uses a different formula, which leads to slightly different hazard resistance, tensile strength, and usability.

Spray adhesives are unlike other types of glue that are generally homogenous.

What Is It Used For?

The good thing about the variety of spray adhesives is that you can use them in virtually any application.

However, a specific type of spray adhesive isn’t that versatile. Instead, every product comes with specific instructions and clear applicability.

Let’s see what you can use spray adhesives for:

  • Bonding Fabric – Some types of spray adhesive are best used for bonding fabric and leather. They’re very good at gluing porous fabric but not waterproof, so don’t think about putting the fabric into a laundry machine afterward.
  • Arts and Crafts – Most spray adhesives are often used in arts and crafts projects because they’re easy to use. Spray adhesives can bond with fabric, cardboard, felt, wood, gemstones, leather, stones, and more. You won’t mess with these adhesives, unlike other non-spray glues.
  • General Repairs – You can also use spray adhesives for general repairs, like repairing items made of metal, plastic, or wood. You can use the spray adhesive to make a strong bond that lasts for quite some time. But it would help if you used a specific spray adhesive for specific applications.
  • Industrial Applications – You can use spray adhesives for large-scale constructions and industrial applications like drywall gluing or bonding ceiling inserts. But these applications will require a stronger and more durable spray adhesive.
  • Wallpapering – Spray adhesives can also bond wallpaper to a wall.
  • Model Building – Lastly, spray adhesives can also be used for model building.

I’ll also recommend several brands of spray adhesive that are very popular and efficient.

You can work with LePage, E6000, Permatex, Elmer’s Glue, Odif, Gorilla Glue, and Scotchgard.

These are some of the best spray adhesive brands out there!

Cons of Spray Adhesive and How to Remove It

Spray adhesives have their bad side, as well. I already told you about some of the cons, but there are others you should know about:

  • You need to be pretty accurate when using the spray can. Holding it the wrong way will result in no aerosol or spraying the wrong area. Even if you hold it right, the coverage of the aerosol can still be a bit off
  • Aerosol equals pollution, which makes the spray adhesive very bad for the environment
  • Spray adhesives are very toxic, too. These adhesives are extremely dangerous to you until they dry out and finish the curing process. They contain plenty of solvents and chemicals that are carcinogenic and harmful.
  • It would help if you didn’t ingest it or let it get on your hands. I recommend wearing a pause because inhaling too much of this stuff may affect your health negatively.
  • It’s very easy to apply too much adhesive from the aerosol can

Now, if you get it on your hands, the spray adhesive can be removed quite easily.

Before it has time to dry and cure, wipe it off with a wet rag or apply some oil with hot water and soap to remove it completely.

This should be more than enough to remove the adhesive in most cases.

If the adhesive gets on the furniture, you can use furniture polish to remove it safely.

Check out my guide on the best glues to use on furniture for more tips.

Alternatively, use citrus-based cleaners to remove the adhesive. If the glue gets on carpets or fabrics, I recommend tape to that area and removing the adhesive with the tape.

Then, apply solvent to the surface until all the adhesive is gone.

You can use mineral spirits, citrus-based cleaners, turpentine, or 3M Spray Adhesive Remover as a solvent replacer.

Interesting Facts

There are some interesting facts about spray adhesives. They may not be funny but you should be interested in them nonetheless:

  • Most spray adhesives form permanent bonds
  • Spray adhesives are very versatile since they can bond both porous and non-porous materials
  • You don’t need anything else to use a spray adhesive. The aerosol can does all the work
  • Many spray adhesives are photo safe
  • You can apply spray adhesives over thin materials to bond them
  • There are more than 100 types of spray adhesive brands in the world

That should be it with the interesting facts!

Wrap Up

Spray Adhesives are incredibly useful for many applications due to their diversified brands.

There are more than 100 types of spray adhesive brands, each focusing on several types of applications.

One product could work for more than one application, while another could be specialized. Either way, spray adhesive is a great glue!

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