Whether you have to fix something around the house or you’re ready to work on a DIY project, the results will be as good as the adhesive you choose.
But it doesn’t matter if you’re using a top-shelf product or a conventional one. What’s most important is to ensure that the adhesive you choose is compatible with your application needs.
I’ll walk you through a detailed description of each glue, then compare the pros, cons, and best applications.
At the end of the article, you should know which glue to use for what application.
Keep reading to find out more!
Also, check out my guide on super glue vs. hot glue for more info.
Super glue Review
Super glue is perhaps the best-known type of adhesive. You’ve probably already used it before. It’s the top choice for most small-scale applications.
We’re going to take a closer look at it right now. I’ll discuss its formulation, uses, specific perks, and more in-depth!
What Is It?
Super glue is a generic name for any cyanoacrylate-based adhesive.
This type of glue is extremely popular for small repairs and simple DIY projects, and there are many reasons for that.
One of the main characteristics of super glue is its near-instant bonding time. Superglue creates a very strong tack on most materials in just a few seconds.
It also only takes minutes for the glue to cure.
Most super glues dry clear, so they’re suitable for all visible applications. Another big plus of superglue is its high versatility.
This adhesive works on both smooth and porous surfaces and has good adherence to most materials.
What Is It Made Of?
Super glue’s main ingredient is cyanoacrylate, a type of acrylic resin derived from ethyl or methyl cyanoacrylate.
During the manufacturing process, the cyanoacrylate resin is exposed to high heat treatment, creating separate reactive monomers.
Unlike water-based adhesives, superglue doesn’t cure through moisture evaporation.
Instead, the cyanoacrylate monomers recombine during the curing process to form a polymer. This polymer material is essentially plastic.
In addition to the cyanoacrylate resin, superglue may contain various additives that help control its viscosity or improve durability.
For example, many superglues are also rubber-reinforced for higher flexibility and better impact resistance.
Super glue is known for its wide range of compatible substrates. In this sense, it’s highly versatile.
You can use it on both porous and non-porous surfaces. Whether you need to bond wood, leather, rubber, vinyl, ceramic, stone, metal, glass, cardboard, plastic, or anything else, there’s no shortage of materials that superglue can handle.
Check out my guide on the best glues for vinyl for more info.
However, I should note that superglue isn’t the best option for very smooth plastics like polyethylene and polypropylene.
You can find more info on polypropylene glues in the linked guide.
While it works well for smooth surfaces, it still needs some texture to adhere to. When working with polished metal or very smooth plastics, sanding the material beforehand will help the superglue establish a tighter bond.
Superglue won’t be able to stick to greasy or non-stick surfaces either. All materials should be thoroughly cleaned before application.
Theoretically speaking, there are three main types of super glues. Depending on their formulation, you can choose ethyl, alkoxy, or methyl ester-based cyanoacrylate adhesives.
In practice, this distinction doesn’t matter. Most superglues sold on the market are ethyl ester-based.
This is the most common formulation because its properties make for the most versatile glue. You’d have to put in some effort to look for a different superglue formulation.
That being said, there are also some advantages to these other formulations. For one, alkoxy ester-based cyanoacrylate is less prone to chlorosis, a chemical process typically known as “frosting” or “blooming.”
This type of cyanoacrylate is less likely to vaporize and thus emits less odor while curing.
Methyl ester-based superglues are more similar to ethyl ester ones but have particularly high adherence to metal surfaces.
How It Works
Most other adhesives cure through moisture loss. As the moisture content of the glue drops, the glue starts hardening and losing part of its volume.
Superglue, on the other hand, only cures when exposed to moisture.
The contact between moisture and the reactive cyanoacrylate monomers creates a chemical reaction that results in the glue hardening.
And you don’t need a high moisture content for this either. The moisture naturally occurs in the air and on the surfaces you’re trying to bond enough to activate this reaction.
This is particularly why super glue cures so quickly. There’s always enough moisture in the air to kickstart the curing process.
Check out my guide on making super glue dry faster for more tips.
However, higher moisture content does lead to even shorter curing times. That’s why superglue immediately bonds skin but takes longer on other surfaces.
Nothing beats superglue when it comes to setting speed. Whatever you’re trying to bond, you’re guaranteed to be done in no time.
Super glue has a very strong initial tack and instantly establishes very powerful bonds.
It usually takes two minutes for the glue to cure fully. For the most part, superglues will cure in less than one minute.
The average time for the bond to harden completely is roughly 15-45 seconds.
My guide on how fast super glue can dry will offer you more information.
Given its formulation, superglue can be potentially dangerous, at least in theory. But while it’s true that superglue straight out of the tube is toxic, there’s little to worry about in practice.
The most important thing to know is that once it’s fully cured, superglue is completely safe and non-toxic.
Superglue begins curing instantly upon exposure to moisture. Not only that but the fumes that superglue emits while curing can also become inert due to this reaction.
This also applies to the moisture naturally present in our mucous membranes.
So, while superglue can be mildly irritating, it’s not hazardous to health, even if you inhale the fumes or if your eyes are directly exposed.
Still, wearing protective equipment is advisable to prevent unpleasant irritations.
How Can You Make Super glue Stronger?
Many DIY videos are circulating that claim you can improve the performance of superglue by adding baking soda.
Convincing as these claims might appear, there’s little reason to believe this does anything to improve superglue strength or adherence.
The best way to improve superglue’s adherence and bond strength is to prep surfaces properly before application.
Whether it’s cleaning any grease or residue or creating some texture, this will help the glue stick and form tighter bonds.
To further speed up the curing process, try dabbing the surface with a damp cloth.
We have also tips to unharden super glue if you ever need to do this.
Best Brand of Superglue
There are a lot of superglue brands out there. But based on performance, formulation, user reviews, and price, the main battle is between Gorilla Super Glue and Loctite Super Glue.
There’s a very close tie between the two, as both offer quick, powerful, and highly durable bonds for a good price.
Epoxy is less commonly used than super glue. It doesn’t make as good of an option for small and quick repairs, but it does have the edge over superglue in other ways.
Let’s take a closer look at this adhesive and see what it is, its strong suits, how it works, and more!
What Is It?
Epoxy glue is an adhesive that, like superglue, turns into a plastic material once fully cured.
Typically, it comes as a two-part adhesive and requires mixing before application.
You’ll have to mix 1 part epoxy resin with 1 part hardener. Once the two components are mixed, the chemical reaction kickstarts the curing process.
Epoxy resin is an industrial product derived from petroleum and belongs to a class of highly reactive prepolymers.
Its properties make it ideal for bonding a lot of different materials. Because its final cured composition is highly similar to super glue, you can expect similar power and durability.
What Is It Made Of?
Simply put, Epoxy is made from epoxy resins and is essentially plastic. Once it hardens, the substance becomes similar to plastic in that it’s very hard and permanent.
It’ll resist hard wear and tear damage and other external hazards without a problem!
In terms of versatility, epoxy has the edge over superglue. You can use this glue for many applications, especially on porous surfaces.
Epoxy doesn’t adhere well to smooth materials such as hard plastics or polished metal, but it does a fine job bonding wood, stone, leather, ceramics, glass, textured plastics, and more.
Check out my guide on the best glues for felt for more tips.
But where epoxy shines is in its multiple alternative uses. Besides making a good adhesive, you can also use epoxy as a sealant, coatings, and composite material.
Epoxy also has excellent resistance to water, heat, and various chemicals. It can handle a fair bit of weight and withstand more pressure and shock when compared to super glue.
Roughly speaking, there are two main types of epoxy glues. First, there’s one-part epoxy, which is as easy to use as regular super glue.
Then, there’s the messier and more difficult to use two-part epoxy adhesive.
One-part epoxy glues come with a pre-mixed resin and hardener composition. When exposed to the air, the hardener kickstarts a chemical reaction that causes the resin to cure.
Two-part epoxy works similarly, but you’ll have to mix the resin and hardener, as they come in separate containers.
While one-part epoxy is quicker and easier to use, two-part epoxy is stronger and better suited for heavyweight applications.
How It Works
Two-part epoxy adhesives contain a resin and a hardener. Once you mix the two up and apply them to a material, the hardener will solidify and tighten the resin.
A chemical reaction will cause the resin to cure, leading to a solid bond that’ll keep your materials in place for many years.
Depending on what epoxy you’re using, the adhesive could take 24 to 48 hours to dry and cure fully.
If the requirements are all met, it could take 24 hours, but none less.
Epoxy adhesives are generally considered to be non-toxic even before they cure. But to be sure, don’t ingest or touch them directly.
Wear gloves and wear a respirator when working with epoxy. If you get some on your hands, wash it away and apply acetone if it has time to dry.
How Can You Make Epoxy Stronger?
Professionals don’t know of a way to make epoxy stronger. Not even applying for primer works, so your best bet is to help it dry faster by applying heat to the adhesive.
If it dries faster, you’ll be done faster, and the bond will be ready sooner.
Best Brand of Epoxy
Gorilla Epoxy is one of the strongest epoxy brands in the world. Most professionals use it for constructions, home repairs, arts and crafts, and other large-scale applications that need a firm hold.
Gorilla Epoxy has high tensile strength and is very resistant to external hazards.
Superglue vs. Epoxy Comparison
Superglue and epoxy are both incredibly useful for specific applications, and now I’ll make a side-by-side comparison to see how things pan ahead:
Both superglue and epoxy can bond to almost the same materials, including rubber, wood, leather, metal, ceramics, plastics, and more.
My wood glue guide will offer you several more tips and tricks.
Similarly, the two adhesives don’t bond well to smooth surfaces like smooth plastic and metal. Other than that, super glue and epoxy are great for any project.
Superglue is best used for small-scale applications, arts and crafts, and general home repairs that don’t require much holding strength.
You can even assemble small plastic or metal parts and bond them with super glue.
Epoxy, on the other hand, is another story. You can use it for more applications than super glue.
While it works on small-scale projects like arts and crafts, general repairs, and the like, it’s best used for large-scale projects.
For instance, if you want to coat metals and composites, insulate electronics, and make models, you’d use epoxy.
Two-part epoxy adhesives are much more versatile and useful than superglue for such projects.
There’s a distinction we have to make here. When it comes to adhesives, there’s shear strength and tensile strength.
Superglue has a very high tensile strength but low shear strength, while epoxy has both shear and tensile strength.
High tensile strength means it’ll resist impacts and pulling attempts. It won’t come off that easily in any circumstances.
Shear strength is resistance against cutting, which makes superglue very good for certain projects.
But for overall usability and practicality, epoxy is better!
Neither epoxy nor superglue is considered too toxic. However, they’re still harmful if you inhale excess fumes or somehow ingest them.
Superglue irritates your eyes, skin, and throat more than epoxy if you consume it.
I recommend wearing gloves and a respirator when working with these two types of glue.
As a safety precaution, try working in a well-ventilated room that prevents you from inhaling the fumes!
Super glue is very easy to remove – use water and acetone. Even after it cures, superglue doesn’t pose a problem regarding cleanup.
Head over to my guide on removing super glue from hair for more tips.
However, epoxy is another story altogether. Once it cures, removing it without damaging the material below will be nearly impossible.
This includes your skin. So, if you got epoxy on your hands, remove it immediately, so it doesn’t dry and cures.
Once it does, you’ll remove your skin alongside the adhesive if you want to get rid of it.
A major difference between super glue and epoxy is that superglue doesn’t have the same shear strength and integrity as epoxy.
While it can hold much heavier objects, epoxy is a better option in terms of versatility and integrity.
Another difference is that superglue cures if there’s moisture in the air, while epoxy cures by itself without any outside intervention.
The two ingredients, the resin and the hardener go through a chemical reaction that leads to the solidification of the substance.
Lastly, superglue bonds and cures within a few minutes, while epoxy may take a few days to cure fully.
However, most professionals prefer epoxy glues when doing large-scale projects!
Superglue and epoxy are great glues, especially if they come from renowned brands like Gorilla Glue or Loctite.
However, each has been used and works best for certain applications and circumstances.
Epoxies are multi-faceted, can bond to many materials, and work for many projects. Super glue is better utilized for general repairs and small-scale projects.
With this information, you should know what adhesive to use for your needs!