If there’s something in common between home repairs and artsy projects, it’s a good adhesive.
Without good glue, you won’t be able to do a quality repair or finish that project you’ve been working on.
In this article, I’ll talk about two very good adhesives you can use – super glue and hot glue.
As you might have guessed, super and hot glue isn’t the same adhesives. They have different properties, and they’re often used for different applications.
I’ll talk about each of them individually and then make a side-by-side comparison to find out how you can use them.
Keep reading for more information on super glue and hot glue!
Check out my guide on super glue vs. epoxy for further information.
Super Glue Review
Superglue is commonly a go-to for various small applications, including arts and crafts, modelmaking, shoe repairs, home repairs, and more.
Its main advantages lie in its versatility, strength, and ease of use. Let’s take a closer look at what this glue is, its formulation, how it works, its perks, and more!
What Is It?
Superglue is a general name for any cyanoacrylate-based adhesive. Unlike other glues, which are water-based, superglue is made up of an acrylic resin base.
This adhesive is high-strength, quick-setting, and typically dries clear. Its short working time makes it most suitable for small-scale applications.
This glue comes in small packages, typically between 3 and 20 grams, but just one to three drops are more than enough for a powerful bond and long-lasting repairs.
What Is It Made Of?
Superglue’s main component is cyanoacrylate. You’ll see this ingredient labeled as “ethyl 2-cyanoacrylate” on most standard superglue ingredient lists.
Roughly speaking, cyanoacrylate is a type of acrylic monomer, usually derived from ethyl and alcohol, such as ethanol or methanol.
Additional ingredients are also used to extend the superglue’s shelf life or to alter its viscosity and curing properties.
Superglue is the most popular adhesive, and for a good reason. It’s highly versatile! There are a few things that superglue won’t stick together.
You can use it on leather, rubber, vinyl, ceramics, wood, metal, stone, marble, concrete, cardboard, plastics, and so much more!
My guides on glue for rubber and glue for vinyl will offer you further tips.
As long as you’re not working with extremely smooth surfaces, super glue will stick and form powerful bonds on virtually anything.
Super glue can reach insane levels of strength, depending on the surfaces you’re bonding. Given that it can withstand tension up to 4000 PSI, it’s safe to say you can use it for many complex repairs.
However, because superglue comes in very small tubes, it’s better to stick to small-scale applications.
Depending on the cyanoacrylate material used in manufacturing, you can have multiple types of superglues.
Roughly speaking, there are three main superglues you’ll find. These include ethyl, methyl, and alkoxy-based cyanoacrylate superglues.
Each type has slightly different properties, but their performances won’t differ significantly.
Whichever type you’ll buy, you can always expect the same super glue strength ng speed.
I should mention the most common ty overall overall overall overall overall overall of superglue is ethyl-cyanoacrylate. Other varieties are less common and difficult to find, especially because they aren’t always labeled.
How It Works
Most other glues on the market cure through moisture loss or a hardener.
Super glue, however, requires moisture to trigger its curing process.
And because the moisture naturally occurring in the air and on most surfaces is enough to trigger the curing process, this explains why superglue sets so quickly.
Upon contact with the hydroxyl ions in water, the cyanoacrylate monomers in the resin rapidly connect to form long chains in polymerization.
The resulting cyanoacrylate polymers are a type of plastic—this polymer’s chemistries are high power, tensile strength, and water resistance.
Can You Make Super Glue Stronger?
Some people on the internet claim that you can improve the strength and durability of superglue through different means.
The most common DIY hack is mixing superglue and baking soda. However, while video demonstrations might look impressive, the truth is that there’s no solid proof that this works.
Superglue is a plastic resin, and it will have its limitations, such as low impact resistance. There’s not much we can do about it, especially using baking soda.
You can, however, find reinforced formulas with even higher tension, shock, and impact resistance. These are professionally made, and they’re guaranteed to meet performance standards.
One of the super glue’s main selling points is its fast setting. You don’t need to do anything special.
In the linked article, you can read more about how long super glue takes to dry.
You don’t need a certain temperature; you don’t need a curing activator; you don’t need UV exposure.
All you need is moisture; luckily, there’s always enough moisture in the air to make super glue work.
Depending on the humidity levels in your working space, superglue can bond almost instantly, or it might take up to 2 minutes at most. That’s it.
No clamping is required, and you’re good to go. The entire process can take as little as 30 seconds in average conditions.
You can also aid the curing process by misting the air or the work materials.
You can also make super glue dry faster using several methods.
Technically speaking, superglue is slightly toxic in average conditions before curing. Still, there’s no need to worry just yet.
As superglue dries, it emits strong fumes that can irritate your eyes and respiratory tract. But once fully cured, the glue is safe when the resin becomes unreactive.
While irritating, these fumes are also neutralized upon contact with water droplets glue is safe to glue is safe. There’s enough moisture in you to render these fumes non-hazardous.
People with respiratory problems such as asthma should still wear protective equipment to prevent unpleasant reactions.
Because of how quickly it cures, super glue might also cause skin irritation upon direct contact.
There are a lot of different brands and formulations, but you’d be best off trying the super glue lines from Gorilla or Loctite.
These superglues have the best user reviews, formulas, performance, and price-quality ratios.
Hot Glue Review
Moving on to hot glue. This adhesive is both user-friendly and highly affordable. It has a lot of perks that make it similar to superglue, but also some unique qualities.
Let’s now see what hot glue is made of, how it works, its uses, and other important details you should know about it.
What Is It?
Hot glue is a type of thermoplastic adhesive. This type of adhesive is highly affordable and common in arts and crafts and other similar DIY projects.
It’s typically sold in packs of multiple solid cylindrical sticks. With the help of a glue gun, the sticks are melted and ready to be used for bonding various materials.
You can opt for different glue stick sizes depending on your glue gun type.
Before application and after curing, hot glue is a flexible type of plastic. It’s highly water-resistant, but given its properties, it has poor resistance to high temperatures.
What Is It Made Of?
Hot glue is mainly made of thermoplastic polymers, stabilizers, tackifiers, and sometimes wax.
Thermoplastic polymers are different than regular plastic polymers because they can withstand very high temperatures and become moldable without burning.
Depending on the plastic polymers used, hot glue can have different properties. There are three main polymers used in hot glue manufacturing.
These include ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), ethylene-methyl acrylate (EMA), and amorphous poly alpha olefin (APAO). Polyamides, polyester, and polyethylene are also commonly used.
Hot glue has good adherence to porous surfaces but won’t stick well to very smooth ones.
That said, hot glue is a powerful and durable adhesive for textured materials such as wood, paper, leather, ceramic, stone, and fabric.
It has decent strength and tension resistance, is virtually waterproof, and is completely non-toxic!
It is decently shock and impact resistant. However, it doesn’t have great heat resistance and is not as powerful as other glues. Still, it’s not a good option for heavyweight applications.
You can use hot glue for a variety of lightweight projects, though, both big and small. It’s a great option for arts and crafts, home decorations, simple repairs, model building, bookbinding, clothing decorations, and other similar tasks.
Check out my guide on using hot glue on fabric for more tips.
As mentioned earlier in the article, hot glue can be made of different plastic polymers, each with slightly different properties.
Depending on the polymers used, you have various types of hot glues.
The main types include EVA-based, APAO-based, polyethylene-based, and polyamide-based hot glue.
You’ll have to check the ingredient list on the label to figure out which type of hot glue you’re working with.
However, the differences between them aren’t significant in terms of performance. It doesn’t matter which type of hot glue you buy because they work the same way, for the most part.
How It Works
Hot glue is among the simplest adhesives out there. There are no environmental requirements to kickstart the curing process.
Once applied, all you have to do is wait. No moisture evaporation or chemical reaction is happening.
No volatile organic compounds exist, so hot glue doesn’t emit toxic fumes.
After heating, hot glue becomes liquid and easily forms volatile organic compounds existing to lose heat, which cracks to its original texture.
As the glue cools down, it turns back into hard plastic.
Can You Make Hot Glue Stronger?
There’s no known way to increase the strength of hot glue. Depending on their formulation, certain hot glues might be more durable than others.
But in terms of bond strength, there’s not much you can do.
Hot glue won’t stick well to certain materials. However, you can improve adherence by sanding the materials before bonding.
Any type of texture is great because it gives the glue something to grab onto.
Hot glue takes about 10-20 minutes to dry and 24 hours to cure fully. It’s not very dissimilar to superglue when it comes to its drying time.
You can do many repairs in a short time, thanks to the quick drying time. Even though it takes 24 hours to cure, you’ll still finish most of your project at once.
Like most other glues, hot glue is only toxic in its liquid form. When applying it, wear gloves, long-sleeved clothes, and a respirator to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes.
Moreover, if you get any on your skin, remove it immediately, or it may irritate the skin. It would help if you also worked in a well-ventilated room to avoid inhaling the fumes.
Surebonder Hot Glue is one of the industry’s best, if not the most powerful hot glue brand. Most professionals agree on this, and I’ve found the same results when testing things out.
My guide on how to remove hot glue will give you tips on removing it from various surfaces.
Superglue VS Hot Glue Comparison
Now that we’ve discussed superglue and hot glue individually, it’s time to make a side-by-side comparison.
To this end, I’ll talk about several categories and compare superglue and hot glue in their performance in each category:
Regarding versatility, superglue can bond a whole set of materials used in basic home repairs and small-scale projects.
Superglue dries instantly, cures very fast, and is very strong. Its weight-bearing capabilities are more than enough for most home repairs and projects.
Hot glue isn’t strong and will only be good for bonding cardboard boxes or arts and crafts projects.
It’s not the adhesive you want to use for more serious repairs or important projects. Its weight-bearing capacity is too low and won’t resist too much wear and tear.
Superglue is versatile as it can bond various materials except for smooth plastics and metals.
Hot glue is similar to super glue. It can bond virtually anything except smooth plastics, vinyl, and metals.
Depending on your needs, super and hot glue will be just as good if you need versatility.
Superglue is the strongest of the two; there’s no doubt about that. It doesn’t matter how you judge it; superglue has a stronger holding strength and higher tensile strength than hot glue.
Even considering structural integrity and shear strength, hot glue pales compared to super glue.
Hot glue is very easy to clean. Essentially, you want to use water and a solvent to scrape it off any surface.
Superglue, on the other hand, is more difficult to remove. You should have no problem removing it with nail polish or another solvent. But it’s still not impossible to scrape it off.
Both super glue and hot glue are categorized as slightly-toxic in their liquid form. It’s almost impossible to ingest them, so that risk goes out the window.
However, the fumes they emit are toxic and can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and skin. You should wear a respirator and work in a well-ventilated room to prevent accidents.
The main difference between super and hot glue is that the latter is better on almost any level than the former.
Superglue is stronger, more versatile, and can handle heat much better than hot glue. Hot glue is very weak against heat and is very weak when it comes to bearing weights.
I’d recommend superglue over hot glue for almost any project except for arts and crafts. For that, you can use hot glue without too many issues.
Superglue and hot glue have specific uses and should be used for different applications.
Hot glue isn’t as strong or resilient as super glue and is less versatile. But it’s a less expensive type of glue that’s great for arts and crafts.
Superglue is better for more serious repairs and projects!