We in the industrialised world have lived in a throwaway society for decades – if something breaks, why try and fix it when you can just buy a replacement? Well, that attitude has done neither us nor the planet any favours, particularly when it comes to plastics.
Now, while I consider myself a DIY master, many around me don’t due mainly to the fact that, if I can’t glue something back together, I generally default to banging some nails through it. Fortunately, then, when it comes to plastics, most things can be fixed through the medium of glue – the only question is: what type of specific glue do you need for the job, super glue, epoxy or solvent cement?
You see, for different types of plastics, different glues are more effective at creating a solid, lasting bond. You just need to know which combinations work best… which is why we’re here!
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Best glue for plastic: At a glance
How to choose the best glue for plastic for you
Best glue for plastic – what are my options?
Okay, the majority of glues in the ‘super’ category are good to go for most household plastics, unless otherwise specified. The most common plastics that super glues (or cyanoacrylate, to give it its proper name) doesn’t work with are polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), so you’ll want to check what you are going to glue weighed up against the glue manufacturer’s directions. However, as the most common use of PE is as polyethylene terephthalate in plastic bottles and PP in things such as outdoor furniture, plastic containers and luggage, you’ll probably not come across the need to adhere them as much as others.
Now, you may not know your polywotnot from your polythingie, but that’s fine: simply look for the recycling arrows on the item in question and take note of the number in the centre – polyethylene (PE) is represented by the number ‘1’, polypropylene (PP) by the number ‘5’, so, knowing that, simply look for a glue option that states its compatibility.
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Can I just glue and go?
If you’re looking for sloppy results, by all means. But if you’re looking to form a clean, strong, lasting bond, it’s best to prep first. Make sure the surfaces of whatever it is you’re gluing are absolutely clean. Wash with soap or a specialised plastic cleaner and then make sure its bone dry and avoid handling as much as possible. You may want to roughen the surface up to with a light rub with sandpaper – this gives the glue more to get to grips with.
Now make sure you’ve read the instructions on the glue thoroughly and are well aware of the handling time (how long you get for manoeuvring) and the curing time (how long it takes to fully set) and pay special attention to the instruction regarding the mixing of two-part epoxies or adhesives. Keep a cloth handy to wipe up any excess or spillage and, if manual dexterity will allow it, wear gloves to avoid getting your fingers glued. Also on that score, as a precaution, we also recommend a mask to stop the inhalation of fumes and safety goggles in case of accidental contact with eyes.
Curing times for glues varies from brand to brand and type to type, but while that process occurs, you’ll want to ensure you have the tightest bond, so clamp your glued elements together using either an actual clamp (available from all DIY stores) or, in a pinch, use elastic bands to hold everything in place.
Are glues for plastic toxic?
Most glues of this nature contain solvents which are toxic, so use common sense – always make sure the area you are working in is well-ventilated and avoid all contact with skin and never, ever ingest, obviously.
As always, check the packaging for individual manufacturer’s guidelines on use, and keep out of the reach of children.
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The best glue for plastic to buy in 2021
1. Loctite Super Glue Gel: Best plastic glue for spill-free precision
Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon
One of the most renowned names of the glue world, Loctite has been in the business of sticking things together since way back in 1956, and its Super Glue Gel really is one of the most flexible adhesives around.
And when I say ‘flexible’, I don’t just mean in the sense that it can be applied to many other materials and not just plastic, but that it also features a rubber-infused formula, which means it can be used to adhere plastic elements that are required to bend.
Bonding almost instantaneously, the long, tapered, anti-clog nozzle and squeeze release system make for spot-on application, whole the fact that it’s a gel rather than a liquid means spillage is almost non-existent.
While not recommended for use with PE or PP, the fact that it creates an incredibly strong bond for other plastics that is resistant to moisture, most chemicals, shock and freezing, means Loctite Super Glue Gel should be a staple of your toolbox.
Key specs – Type: Cyanoacrylate gel; Drying time: 24-hours; Dry colour: Clear; Volume: 4ml; Consistency: Gel; Curing time: 12-24 hours; Water resistant: Yes
2. Bondic: Best non-glue plastic glue
Price: £20 | Buy now from Bondic
Okay, not technically a glue, Bondic is an altogether different adhesive method of bonding plastic (and pretty much anything else) that uses… liquid plastic.
Yes, using the appliance of science, with Bondic, rather than being tied to a setting and curing time, you simply clean the surface of whatever you’re trying to bond, apply the liquid, cure at your leisure using Bondic’s LED activation wand and the job is done!
A one-part unit that features an applicator nozzle at one end and the LED at the other, the adhesive stays in liquid form until you activate it via the UV. The UV wavelength acts as a catalyst for a photochemical reaction which causes the polymer to harden in mere seconds to form a permanent but flexible bond.
Obviously, there is no issue with potentially sticking your fingers together or adhering the wrong things, but even though it is not a solvent it is still advised to avoid contact with skin and eyes and, being toxic, it should always be kept – in its handy tin – out of harm’s way when not in use.
Key specs – Type: Liquid plastic; Dry colour: Clear; Volume: 4ml; Consistency: Liquid; Curing time: n/a; Water resistant: Yes
3. Gorilla Glue Epoxy: Best two-part epoxy plastic glue
Price: £7 | Buy now from B&Q
Another giant of the glue world, Gorilla Glue may have only been around since 1994, but since launch it has gone on to achieve an enviable reputation amongst adhesive manufacturers worldwide, and its Epoxy offering is an excellent example of why.
Water-resistant and offering a comfortable five-minute setting time in which to make slight changes to positioning, Gorilla Glue Epoxy features a two-part formula of resin and hardeners which are kept in separate barrels until dispensed in equal measure by the handy syringe design to form an incredibly durable bond.
Drying completely over 24-hours, when it will be fully flexible, sandable and paintable, the finish is crystal clear, so even transparent plastic (not PE or PP) can be glued together without worrying about how it will look. It’s Capable of handling high temperatures too.
As with all adhesives care should be taken when handling to avoid exposure to skin and/or eyes.
Key specs – Type: Two-part epoxy; Dry colour: Clear; Volume: 25ml; Consistency: Liquid; Curing time: 24-hours; Water resistant: Yes
4. Loctite All Plastics Super Glue: Best plastic glue for difficult plastics
Price: £6 | Buy now from Amazon
We promised you the best glues for plastic and that has to include all plastics, so in terms of bonding that tricky duo of polypropylene and polyethylene objects, there is one clear answer: Loctite All Plastics Super Glue.
A two-part cyanoacrylate adhesive that sets in seconds, the activator is used to prime these traditionally difficult to glue plastic surfaces, leaving a string bond that can withstand heavy loads, while also being highly resistant to water, the dishwasher, shock and extreme temperature.
To use, ensure surfaces to be joined are clean, completely dry and close fitting. Using the Surface Activator like a pen, apply it to both surfaces and wait 60 seconds for it to dry. Open the glue and carefully squeeze a small drop onto one surface. Press the surfaces together and hold until set.
Not for use on flexible joints, the hard setting All Plastics should be given a full 24-hours to cure fully, after which any and all plastics will be bonded for life.
Key specs – Type: Two-part cyanoacrylate; Dry colour: Clear; Volume: 4ml; Consistency: Liquid; Curing time: 24-hours; Water resistant: Yes
5. Everbuild Stick 2 All Purpose Spray: Best plastic glue for polyvinyl
Price: £8 | Buy now from ToolStation
This is designed for another form of plastic which is normally a non-starter for most super glues: polyvinyl. When it comes to securing vinyl flooring in the home, you’re going to struggle unless you get your hands on a decent Contact Adhesive (also known as Contact Cement), such as the Stick 2 All Purpose here from Everbuild.
Ideal for use with vinyl flooring or plastic laminate kitchen countertops where other glues are of no use, simply ensure surfaces are clean and dust free, shake the can well and spray both surfaces for sticking from about six- to eight-inches distance, allow 30 seconds for the solvent to evaporate, then press together. With a curing time of a mere two- to three-minutes, you’ll have a solid bond in next to no time.
With all glue use, we recommend gloves, mask and safety goggles, and in the case of aerosol-based adhesives we can’t stress this enough! Also as it’s an aerosol adhesive, remember that it is highly flammable too, so storage in a safe, cool place is imperative!
Key specs – Type: Contact cement; Dry colour: Clear; Volume: 500ml; Consistency: Liquid; Curing time: 2- to 3-minutes; Water resistant: Yes