Plastic vs. Acrylic Adhesives: Pros and Cons

Plastic and acrylic adhesives can be used in a variety of metal or plastic craft applications. Both types of adhesives are strong, relatively inexpensive, and each carry their own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you are having a hard time deciding which is best, this simple guide should help to shed some light on the differences.

Plastic Adhesives - Pros

Plastic adhesives are used frequently in furniture repair. Most of these adhesives are a resin type of glue. The finished product is clear and can be painted over if necessary. When clamped correctly, the plastic adhesive can create a strong-holding permanent bond with wood, some plastics, and glass. This type of adhesive is available in several varieties, including brush-on adhesives, powder formulas, and some can be found in simple-to-use spray cans.

Plastic Adhesives - Cons

Plastic adhesive can be difficult to work with. A spray-on version may not provide the hold needed for larger projects. The strongest bond can be found in the powder formulas. The problem with these is that you have to mix them with water and follow the directions precisely. Too much water will create a weak glue, and too little will create a hard-to-deal with paste. Another draw back is the cure time. In most cases, the piece being glued will need to have pressure applied for at least 10 hours. This can pose problems in projects where clamps can damage the finished project, such as glass work or delicate wood creations.

Acrylic Adhesives - Pros

An acrylic adhesive can be used in many projects. The acrylic forms a fast bond that is strong and resistant to cracking or slipping. Acrylic can be used for wood, metal, and most types of plastic. It can also be used in some types of glass. Acrylic adhesives will provide a strong bond, but can remain flexible as well. This can be important in some projects. Many acrylic adhesives are used in electronic components, and can be found in heat resistant formulas. Acrylic is also available in low odor formulas, which can be important when using in a small or heavily trafficked space. 

Acrylic Adhesives - Cons

Acrylic can be more expensive than other varieties of adhesives. Even though the acrylic will form a quick bond, some varieties can take as long as 24 hours to make a permanent bond. This means you have to work fast, and allow the adhesive to sit undisturbed for a full day before the maximum bond can be reached. Acrylic adhesive is found in 2-part varieties most often, meaning that it will need to be mixed. You may be able to find some pre-mixed acrylic adhesive at a hardware store, but the bond may not be as strong. A separate applicator is suggested with the 2-part mixes since the acrylic mixture can damage a standard paint brush.