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Crafting Adhesives 101: The Pros and Cons of Glues, Tapes, Sprays and More

When it comes to crafting there are a lot of choices especially in terms of adhesives.  Knowing what type of glue or tape or other adhesive to use for a project can make or break it...quite literally.   Today, Silhouette School weekly contributor and paper crafting expert,  Becky Dykes from My Paper Craze, is here to lay it all out for us!

Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dots

There's nothing worse than finishing a project and realizing you could have saved yourself a bunch of hassle by having the right supplies on hand. In the case of adhesives, while they ultimately serve the same purpose, having the right one in your crafting arsenal can save you a major headache.

So we're going to lay it out for you, the most popular crafting adhesives with the pros and cons of each.

Two Way Glue Pen

Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dots
The two way glue pen is really great for all things paper. My favorite is the Zig Memory System Two Way Glue Pen. It is pretty much my go-to glue and it is fairly inexpensive when purchased in bulk. It's been featured here on Silhouette School in the past - specifically in the Zipper Card Tutorial.  You can really use it for about anything paper related, such as scrapbook layouts, handmade cards, gift tags.

Since it goes on wet, you even get a little wiggle room if your pieces are lined up exactly.
The best part is that it dries clear, so even if you get a little too much, you can either wipe it off before it dries or leave it. The down side is that it's really not ideal for large projects, you do have to wait for it to dry, and on certain materials it can leave a pen-like indent.

Glue pens are also useful for getting some extra life out of your cutting mat. Obviously, you want a wider tip, such as the Zig 2 Way Glue Pen Jumbo Tip. I won't get into the specifics now, but you basically get the old stick off your mat (Goo Gone works great for this), then spread an even layer of the 2 way glue over the cutting surface and allow it to dry.

Tape Runner

Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dots

Tape runners are very convenient because they are available virtually anywhere, from big box retailers and discount stores, and from a variety of manufacturers, which typically keeps the prices competitive.

They are usually available in permanent and prepositional adhesive, depending on what your needs are. These are most used in scrapbooking because they have a durable hold, but they are safe to use on photos and there's no drying time.

You may choose to use the tape runner over the glue pen for two reasons. One: on certain surfaces, the pen can leave an invention and two: tape runners are truly removable, as long as you haven't placed the adhesive against a surface (in my experience, I typically use Scotch brand tape runners). What I mean by that is that if you run a length of tape along the front of your paper instead of the back by mistake, you can turn around and rub the glue tape off the front with no sticky residue or evidence of it being there, AS LONG AS you haven't actually pressed the glue tape to another surface.
Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dotsIf you're looking at some heavy duty tape running, consider investing in an advanced tape glider, so you're not always buying the smaller refills or replacements. More bang for your buck, too.



Scor Tape

Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dots
Scor tape is another great bang for your buck and it's really easy to apply. It's similar to the tape runners because it is a double-sided dry adhesive, but this tape comes with a paper backing, so you can apply it and not have to use it right away. For example, if I want to apply the scor tape to an envelope, I can wait to peel off the paper backing until I'm ready to seal it. It's also very quick and easy to apply, as you just unroll as you apply and then rip it off at the end, no scissors needed. Scor tape also tends to be a stronger adhesive than the standard tape runners or glue pen and it comes in various widths. .

Spray Adhesive

Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dots
Spray adhesive is another great tool that's sold by many manufacturers. Because of its wide spray area, it's perfect for larger projects such as wood signs or canvases. The downside of that wide spray area is that you can unintentionally spray items nearby and it's not usually recommended for indoor use.

The good news is that once the spray adhesive dries, the sprayed areas are no longer sticky to touch and its clear, so you don't have to worry too much about the overspray as long as you've taken decent precautions.

Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dots Glue Dots

Glue dots are fun little guys that are really super great for kids crafts or for adding dimensions to projects. I say they are fun for kids crafts because they are just fun little dots that are pressure sensitive and won't make a mess all over your table and won't leave a wet mess to dry either.

They come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses (some completely flat), so it's easy to choose a thicker dot to add dimension to your paper craft. They technically work on a multitude of surfaces, like plastic, metal and glass, but we've only ever used them for our paper crafts. The down fall is that it can be tedious placing a bunch of adhesive dots for larger projects.



Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dotsFoam Dots

Foam dots are similar to glue dots in that they are available in various sizes and are great for kids crafts and adding dimension. There are two big benefits to foam dots: they can expand and retract and they can be cut to size.

By expanding and retracting, I mean that if I use a foam dot to add dimension to a handmade card, I can trust that the foam dots won't restrict the card from sliding into the envelope, then fluff back up when my recipient pulls it out again.

By cut to size, if you have larger size foam dots, you can trim them with scissors to fit smaller projects.


Double-sided Tape

Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dots
Double-sided tape is another form of adhesive similar to tape runners, except this one is typically thicker and comes in the standard wrapping style tape we see around the house. It's still a good adhesive that can be used in paper crafts and is pretty cost effective, so don't dismiss it when shopping for adhesives.

Hot Glue Gun

Crafting, adhesives, glue, tape, dots
A hot glue gun is absolutely a must have in any household, especially anyone with crafting tendencies. It is the most versatile adhesive you will find and can be used for anything except kids crafts.

Although it tends to leave a mess of little hard glue dots or 'strings' in its path, you can literally use hot glue on anything. You can hot glue fabrics, paper, wood, plastic, metal, etc. Now, keep in mind that each material will have its own struggles and you might burn off a few finger prints in the process, the result is usually worth it!

If you continually struggle with burnt fingers, consider a low-temp setting. The glue comes out at a lower temperature, which saves your fingers, but it also causes the glue to run a little thicker and dry a litter faster, so keep that in mind. My favorite glue gun (pictured above) is a dual-temp hot glue gun, allowing me to switch back and forth depending on my craft.
As you can see, each of these adhesives have pros and cons, making each one of them valuable in their own way. While you have probably built up a pretty good supply in your own crafting stash, take a moment to review what you have available and consider adding any that you may be lacking.

What's your favorite crafting adhesive? Leave a comment below to share. 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine!

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