Construction Adhesive


Not just for construction sites

Construction adhesive ($4) has a major role in building construction, but I have been using it as a household adhesive. It has a number of unique characteristics that make it possibly more useful than most of the alternatives.

It fills gaps with strength, unlike cyanoacrylates like Superglue or polyurethanes like Gorilla Glue. It is somewhat flexible, which often makes a more durable repair for things like shoes, clothing, tents, etc. It is much stronger than Shoe Goo or urethane sealers, which the clear versions resemble superficially. It has tremendous initial tack. Often you can spread it, stick the two pieces together, and you are done. The glue is sticky enough that often you don’t need clamping (which is a virtual necessity for Gorilla Glue and its relatives).

It is easy to apply. Unlike contact cements like Barge Cement, you don’t have to apply it to both sides, let them dry, then carefully stick them together (and get an instant that you cannot realign if you didn’t bring the pieces together perfectly.) You just spread it on one piece, jam the two pieces together and adjust, and you are done.

It also cleans up with soap and water, unlike epoxy, polyurethane glue, cyanoacrylate glue, contact cement, etc. It is waterproof in non-immersion settings, unlike white or yellow glues. It comes in a variety of formulations with a variety of characteristics, so you can choose high-strength, UV-resistance, clear or a kind of beige, ability to stick to foam insulation, even low VOC, etc. as needed. It is also sold in small tubes, though only in a few varieties.

As for cons, I can’t think of any real disadvantages. If you want to bond two rigid things that mate perfectly, use Super Glue. If you want to bond two rigid things that don’t mate perfectly, use epoxy. For wood, use carpenter’s glue. For pretty much every other material, porous or non-porous, flexible or not, construction cement works great, at least so far.

I guess it isn’t completely clear whether the stuff in the little tubes is the same stuff sold in the large tubes that require a caulking gun. But the large tubes are cheap, so some experimentation isn’t out of the question.

The clear version from Liquid Nails let me make the only successful shoe repair I have ever made of a peeling sole. I stuffed the shoe full of newspaper, masked off the uppers, applied the glue, then applied blue masking tape on the outside to pull the sole close to the shoe. When it dried, it looked perfect, and for the last few years the glue has held strong while flexing with the shoe. I never had such luck with Shoe Goo, Super Glue, urethane sealants, Barge cement, etc.

I have used construction glues from both Loctite and Liquid Nails, and both brands seem to work well. You have to be careful to get construction cement, and not silicone sealant.

-- Karl Chwe 11/8/19

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2013 — editors)

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