Naturally, in every home, there are often situations when plastic items need to be used. This is especially true if there are children in the family, as such items can sometimes break and require repair. However, gluing plastic is not as easy as it may seem, and for effective fixation of parts, you will need a more advanced glue than the usual “bog-standard”.
There is no one-size-fits-all with glues, as different types of plastics require different adhesives. But don’t worry, this article covers everything you need to know about glues, including which glue goes with which type of plastic and the key features you need to look out for when buying a plastic glue. Read on to get yourself fully briefed on all there is to know about glue.
What is Plastic Glue?
If this is the first time you’ve heard of glue, you might like a brief explanation of why there is a specific glue for plastic and what exactly it is. Plastic is a very smooth material that is non-porous; these properties make it very difficult for an adhesive to bond with anything on the surface. Fortunately, glue is specifically designed to work with the properties of plastic so that you can easily repair or create something out of it.
Top 10 Best Glue for Plastic 2023 [Updated]
The range of glues out there is extensive, and finding the correct type of glue for your task can seem a little daunting. Fear not – we have it covered. Here are our Top Ten Plastic Glues of 2023. From glue cement to super glue and epoxy glue, you’re sure to find a fantastic product that suits your needs in this comprehensive list of different glues.
1. Best Adhesive for Plastic: Starbond’s EM-02 Super Fast Premium Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
If you’re looking for a powerful adhesive that comes complete with precision applicators and is suitable for use on plastic, then this may very well be the right glue for you. This is a Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue, otherwise known as a super glue, meaning a guaranteed powerful bond that happens quickly. This glue is not particularly vicious, so it will run into spaces as you apply it but the range of micro-tips included allows you to work with a decent amount of control.
Other things to like about this plastic glue are that: this is an industrial-strength adhesive; it is also effective when used to bond to challenging materials, such as wood or glass; the low viscosity enables this glue to seep into cracks helping to form stronger bonds, and; it is a great choice of glue for model-making enthusiasts. The downside of this plastic glue is that it can be a bit messy because of the low viscosity and it dries incredibly fast so you have to work quickly.
2. Best Glue for Hard Plastic: Bob Smith Industries’ BSI-135H Maxi-Cure Extra Thick Super Glue
If you hate working with liquid adhesives but need something suitable for gluing plastic to anything from wood to metal, then you’ll love working with this superglue gel. It is also not the fastest-drying superglue in existence; it takes at least 10 seconds to start drying and form a joint.
Something else that I like about this glue is that this company sponsors the Wounded Warrior Project, allocating part of its profits, so that by buying it, you will support veterans and wounded servicemen. It is made right here in the USA, so you can be sure that it meets good quality and safety standards. And the thickness makes it easy to work with. The disadvantage of this glue is that it does not flow into the cracks as fast as other superglues.
3. Best Super Glue for Plastic: 3M Scotch-Weld Plastic & Rubber Instant Adhesive
This 3M superglue forms a very strong compound, as it has industrial strength and does not peel off after drying. It is water-resistant and also able to instantly form strong connections with both porous and non-porous materials, which makes it an ideal universal glue for storage in the closet.
Other features that I like about this glue are: it forms an incredibly strong joint, sufficient to hold the weight of heavy objects; a small amount of glue is enough to last you long enough; it dries completely transparent; it is very viscous (thick); and it cures exceptionally quickly.
The disadvantage of this plastic glue is that it requires a lot of effort at the initial stage, which means that you have to carefully connect the parts exactly in the right place.
4. Best Epoxy for Plastic: Loctite’s Epoxy Plastic Bonder 0.85-Fluid Ounce Syringe
If you have struggled to epoxy adhesives slippery plastic or plastic-like materials such as vinyl, Mylar, and PVC together even with something marketing itself as a glue, then don’t worry, as this epoxy adhesive really can do what it says on the packet. Be warned though, as this stuff is highly toxic and flammable and protective clothing (gloves and mask) should be worn when using this glue. However, this epoxy adhesive is the best glue to bond plastic that is challenging.
Other things to like about this glue are that: it is resistant to pretty much any chemical you can throw at it; it is water resistant and to weather; it actually fuses plastics together rather than curing time than simply bonding them, helping to ensure stronger joins that maintain their strength even once fully cured; suitable for joints that might be jolted or put under strain.
The downside of this glue is the toxicity and it doesn’t keep all that well once opened.
5. 5 Best Glue for Plastic on Cars: Permatex’s 84115 5-Minute Plastic Welding Adhesive
If you’re looking for a glue strong enough to bond hard plastics like car bumpers, then you needn’t look further than this industrial-strength plastic adhesive. With a permanent bonding strength of 3500 PSI and resistance to weathering and humidity, you know your repairs with this glue are going to stand up to the tests of time.
Other things to like about this glue are that: it works great on almost all plastics, including both hard and more flexible variants; you do not need to apply heat to make this set; it dries in around 5–10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to position your bond effectively and; it is exceptionally cheap.
The downside of this glue is that it does not bond to polyethylene plastics, and it is a small tube that doesn’t go that far.
6. Best Glue for Plastic to Plastic: J-B Weld ‘s 50139 Plastic Bonded Body Panel Adhesive and Gap Filler Syringe
If you’ve had any trouble bonding plastic to plastic and found that as soon as your glue dries, the bond quickly comes apart, then you should give this impressive glue syringe a try. Designed to weld plastic and rubber particles together, this glue forms an exceptionally strong bond that will last even once fully cured, with a strength of 3770 PSI.
The syringe design also ensures the minimum amount of glue gets wasted, helping this glue go a long way.
Other things to like about this plasticto-glue are that: it also forms impressive bonds from plastic to metal projects; the strength of the bond is actually marketed as being stronger than steel thanks to the welding-style bond created; you can use this gap bonding glue as a gap filler; and it can be used indoors and outdoors (use a mask).
The downside of this plastic bonding glue is that it does give off harmful fumes and dries black, so it is not suitable for every project.
7. Best Waterproof Glue for Plastic: Gorilla’s Waterproof White Expanding Glue
If you’re after a high-quality glue that is completely waterproof and dries unobtrusively, then this chest-pounding gorilla glue will definitely float your boat. One of the great things about this gorilla glue is that it expands by more than three times after application, helping to ensure even rough surfaces can be bonded together well. For a waterproof gorilla glue good enough to get into all the gaps, this is the glue that checks all the boxes.
Other things to like about this glue are that: it dries white, making it easy to make a repair job look like it didn’t happen; it bonds with pretty much anything, including plastic, stone, cement, and wood; it does not deteriorate due to weather or water submersion; and it is pretty cheap. The downside of this waterproof plastic glue is that it needs to be clamped in place for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before forming a bond.
8. Best Plastic Cement: Devcon’s 90225 Duct Plastic and Model Cement
If you love working with model figurines, need an adhesive to fix up model cars, or just have a desire to do something creative with some left-over bits of plastic, then this great plastic cement will be just what you need. As this is designed for use with toys and models, it does not have a superfast tack to begin with, which gives you all the time you need to position parts exactly where you want them.
Other things to like about this glue are that: it sets in around 2 hours and is fully cured within a day; it dries completely clear, so you won’t ruin the finish of your model by ruining all your hard work putting a model together; and you can paint over this because it is a plastic cement. The downside of this glue is that it is not an industrial strength bond, reaching just 300 PSI, so it should only be used for arts and crafts-style projects.
9. Best Plastic Glue for Marine Projects: J-B Weld’s 8270 KwikWeld Industrial Two Part Epoxy Glue Set
If you have been looking for a glue suitable for fixing up your boat or other marine vehicles, then you should check out this two-part epoxy cold welding system. As this has been designed to withstand extreme conditions, you can use it in tough cold weather conditions and still end up with a comparable and strong bond to a steel welded join. For strong bonds on plastic marine parts, this is the glue set that stands up to the test.
Other things to like about this glue are that: sets after 6 minutes, giving you time to put things in the perfect position; it takes just 6 hours to fully cure, far quicker than all the other glues on this list, even the super glues; it forms an industrial-strength bond (2424 PSI); and it is saltwater and heat-resistant up to an extreme 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The downside of this glue is that it is a skin irritant and is not the cheapest option, unlike super glues out there.
10. Best Plastic Glue Sealant for Windows and Gutters: DAP’s 18816 Polyurethane Construction Adhesive and Sealant
If you’re looking for a glue that can also be used as a sealant and works great to provide long-lasting bonds between plastic windows and guttering and the house, then you’ll love this professional-grade polyurethane glue. This glue is made in the USA and has an impressive 50-year guarantee that ensures you will benefit from your repair work for years and years to come. For house-fitting repairs, this is a great choice of glue.
Other pros of this polyurethane glue are that: it can stick to just about anything you wish to bond together and forms powerful but flexible bonds; you can paint over it once it has dried and fully cured; it is also suitable for marine repairs; and it is thick enough to fill in big gaps and still forms a strong non-porous bond that stands up to challenging weather conditions. The downside of this glue is that it is highly toxic and must be handled with care.
What are the Different Types of Plastic?
It may be news to you that there are, in fact, different types of plastic. It is important to work out what type of plastic your item is made out of before selecting your glue, as not all plastic adhesives work with all plastics. We go through the main types of plastics that you are likely to find in your home that might need repairing.
1. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
This type of plastic, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), is most commonly used in items such as plastic olive oil bottles and toys, and you may find that your plumbing system is largely made out of PVC pipes. It is a flexible and soft plastic that you will find many items made out of.
Acrylic is a see-through plastic that is sometimes used as a glass replacement. You may find acrylic in a plastic picture frame, as a replacement for glass in a cabinet, or even used in the kitchen to protect the tiles and grouting from any backsplash that comes from cooking.
3. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
High-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE for short, is a polymer that has a high strength to density ratio. This is most often what your garden furniture is made out of, but you will also find other products in your homemade out of HDPE, such as floor tiles as well as some toys.
4. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
You will also find Low-Density Polyethylene in products inside your home. Such items include tubing, some plastic parts that are used for computer components, containers, and Tupperware you may use for storage. LDPE is the type of plastic that is used for plastic bags.
5. Polypropylene (PP)
There are many items made out of polypropylene, as it is a very versatile type of plastic. This is what plastic straws are made out of, and it is also used for plastic bottle caps. You may find that most of your storage containers are made out of polypropylene, as are your plastic cups and any reusable plastic cutlery you may use.
6. Acrylonitrile Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)
This plastic type is certainly a mouthful! Acrylonitrile butadiene-styrene is the type of plastic used to make harder toys such as Lego.
Buying Guide: What are the different types of plastic glues?
Now that you know about the different types of plastics you are likely to find in your home, let’s now take a look at the different types of glues and the great features and properties of each one. It is essential to work out what type of glue is compatible with your item, and if you are wanting to repair more than one plastic item, you may need to invest in a few different types of glue.
1. Polystyrene Cement
First up is polystyrene cement, also known as poly cement, this type of glue works by melting the surfaces of the pieces of plastic you are sticking together and then molding these pieces together. It is an effective means of gluing plastic, however, there is the possibility that the polyurethane adhesive can damage your plastic product if not used correctly due to its ability to dissolve the surface of the plastic.
That being said, if you use polyurethane adhesive correctly, you will find it gives a substantial and long-lasting bond, so just be careful not to use too much!
A common use for polyurethane adhesive is to bond together PVC and plastic pipes, and it is often provided in plastic model kits and is a firm favorite amongst hobbyists. You can buy polyurethane adhesive in three different viscosities: thick, medium, and ultra-thin, depending on how strong you need the glue to be and how quickly you would like it to dry.
2. Cyanoacrylate Glue
Cyanoacrylate is the long name for super glue which you will no doubt have come across before. Super glue can be used for all manner of repairs and projects, and this includes use with most plastics too. It is an acrylic monomer so is not suitable for use with items made out of acrylic plastic, however, it is suitable for items made out of polystyrene, ABC plastic, and PVC.
Super glues set quickly, with the strongest glue setting in mere seconds after applying – so you will need to act fast with this stuff.One of the down sides of using super glue to bond plastic is its lack of flexibility, so it is best used if it doesn’t matter if the end product is a little rigid.
It’s also not a good idea to use super glue if smooth surfaces or the two pieces you are gluing together are not a perfect fit, as super glue does not work well as a ‘filler’ material.
3. Epoxy Glue
The present glue is the product of a chemical reaction between two compounds: a hardener and a resin. When these two compounds are mixed together, an incredibly strong adhesive known as epoxy resin is obtained. It is a universal adhesive that can be used on a wide range of materials, including plastic.
Some people refuse glue because of the need to mix it themselves; however, there are options to purchase it in a double syringe that dispenses equal amounts of hardener and resin so that you can be sure that you mix in the right ratio every time. The glue must be used immediately after mixing it, as otherwise it will harden and be unusable (so make sure you mix only what you need; otherwise the rest will go to waste).
The glue is well suited if you glue two uneven plastic surfaces together, as it serves as an effective filler to fill any gaps and cracks in the plastic. This type of glue sets fairly quickly (after about 10 minutes); however, it takes about 24 hours to cure in order to fully reveal its strength and potential. If you are wondering “Which plastic glue is the most durable?”, then epoxy resin is your answer.
Buying Guide: What plastic glue should I use?
– Polystyrene Cement: use this for PVC pipes, plastic model kits, plastic bowls and some plastic toys.
– Cyanoacrylate Glue (super glue): use this for items made out of polystyrene, ABC, and PVC.
– Epoxy Glue: this can be used for the majority of plastics but always check the label first as some brands are not suited to specific types best glues. A good choice if you need an adhesive that will also act as a filler.
How to use plastic glue
While getting the right glue for the job may sound a little tricky, you now have all you need to know about which glue goes with which type of plastic. Now the next step is knowing how to use that glue! Here is our step-by-step guide on the best way to use glue.
1. Make sure your surfaces are clean
As with gluing any surface, the adhesive will be most effective if the surface is clean when the glue is applied. Give the repaired plastic surfaces a good clean with soap and try to avoid touching the surfaces that are going to be glued, as oil from your skin can reduce the effectiveness of the adhesive.
2. Reduce the smoothness of the surfaces
Plastic is a very smooth material, which can make it very difficult for an adhesive to find anything to bond to. This is why it is recommended that you make the plastic surfaces a bit ‘rougher’ before applying your plastic glue. You can do this by using either sandpaper, steel wool, or even an emery board. Some plastic glues may come with the equipment you need to roughen the plastic surface before using the glue.
3. Choose your weapon
Glues can be incredibly strong, so you want to avoid the adhesive coming into contact with your skin at all costs. To be safe, make sure you use a small brush, toothpick, or another applicator to protect yourself from touching the glue. Not only this, but with a glue applicator, you can also ensure that your glue is applied directly where you need it, making the results more precise and less messy.
4. Prepare your glue
If you’re using a polyurethane adhesive or a super glue you can use these straight from the tube or container; if you’ve opted for an epoxy, then you will need to get the glue prepared. Mix an equal amount of epoxy putty out of hardener and resin and use the epoxy putty immediately.
5. Clamp together
For best results, it is recommended that the two pieces of plastic you are bonding are clamped together. This can be done using a range of equipment, such as tape, elastic bands, bulldog clips, or some actual clamps if you have them. Clamping will ensure that the adhesive you’re using has the best chance of reaching its full potential as it goes through the curing process.
6. Clean off any residue
As glues can set fast, cleaning up any glue spillage is essential to ensuring the finished product looks professional. You can buy specific products to do this, such as denatured alcohol or mineral spirits (always check the label), which will allow you to wipe off any unwanted residue. Any cleaning up needs to be done as soon as possible and before the glue has a chance to cure.
Polyurethane adhesives, super glues, and epoxy glues will all work well with plastic; however, the type of plastic they can be used on is dependent on the glue, so always be sure to check the label before using. With the right plastic glue for the job, you can be confident that a strong and lasting bond with smooth plastics can be created.