It is a given that there will be numerous plastic times in any household, especially if that household contains children, and from time to time these items break and need repairing. However, gluing plastic is not as straightforward as you might think and it will take more than your bog-standard adhesive to stick the pieces back together effectively. Even if you have a strong glue in your toolbox that works with other materials, this might not be the right type of glue for plastic as plastic is a non-porous material.
This may interest you: Best Glue for Glass or Best Glue for Ceramics.
There is no one size fits all with plastic glues as different types of plastics require different adhesives. But don’t worry, this article covers everything you need to know about plastic 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 plastic glue.
What is plastic glue?
If this is the first you’ve heard of plastic glue you might like a brief explanation on why there is 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, plastic glue is specifically designed to work with the properties of plastic so that you can easily repair or create something made out of plastic. Through repairing plastic items rather than replacing them we can help to keep our plastic use down!
What are the different types of plastics?
It may be news to you that there are, in fact, different types of plastics. It is important to work out what type of plastic your item is made out of before selecting your plastic 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, 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 in your home are 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, HDPE for short, is a polymer that has a high strength to density ration. 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 is also used for plastic bottle caps. You may find that your storage containers are made out of polypropylene, as well as your plastic cups, and any reusable plastic cutlery you may use.
#6 Acrylonitrile Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)
This plastic type certainly is 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 plastic glues and the great features and properties of each one. It is essential to work out what type of plastic 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 plastic glues.
#1 Polystyrene Cement
First up is polystyrene cement, also known as poly cement, this type of plastic 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 poly cement 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 poly cement correctly you will find it gives a substantial and long-lasting bond so just be careful not to use too much!
This is definitely not the type of glue to use if you are needing something to fill a few gaps and holes as it will dissolve the plastic rather than fill it in. A common use for poly cement is to bond together PVC pipes and it is often provided in plastic model kits and is a firm favorite amongst hobbyists. You can buy poly cement 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 plastics. 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 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 the two pieces you are gluing together are not a perfect fit, as super glue does not work well as a ‘filler’ material. In terms of improving its effectiveness, cyanoacrylate works best when surfaces are less smooth so consider giving the plastic surface a quick sand before applying this adhesive.
#3 Epoxy Glue
Epoxy glue is the product of a chemical reaction between two compounds – hardener and resin. When these two compounds are mixed together an incredibly strong adhesive is produced known as epoxy. This is a versatile and multi-purpose glue that can be used for a range of materials, including plastic. Some people are put off epoxy glue due to the need to mix it yourself, however, there are options to purchase it in a double syringe which dispenses equal measures of hardener and resin so that you can be sure you are mixing the correct ratio each time.
Epoxy glue needs to be used immediately after it has been mixed, as otherwise it will go hard and be unusable (so make sure you only mix what you need to use otherwise the remainder will go to waste). This versatile glue can be used on the majority of plastics, however, it is important to check the label of the product you are thinking about purchasing as some types recommend avoiding use with certain types. Epoxy glue works well if you are gluing together two plastic surfaces that are uneven, as it works as an effective filling material to fill in any gaps and cracks in the plastic. This type of glue sets pretty quickly (after around 10 minutes), however, it needs around 24 hours to cure for it to reach its full strength and potential. Epoxy glue is a great choice when gluing plastic, not only as it is strong and effective but also because it can be used on a range of other materials also. If your wondering ‘what is the strongest plastic glue?’ then epoxy is your answer.
Buying Guide: What plastic glue should I use?
For a quick reference guide to which type of plastic glue should be used with which plastic type see our list below.
– Polystyrene Cement: use this for PVC pipes, plastic model kits, 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. 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 plastic 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 plastic 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 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
Plastic glues can be incredibly strong, so you want to avoid the adhesive coming in to 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 poly cement or a super glue you can use these straight from the tube or container, however, if you’ve opted for an epoxy then you will need to get the glue prepared. Mix an equal ration of hardener and resin and use the epoxy 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. Make sure you check the packaging of your plastic glue of choice to check how long you need to leave it to cure for.
#6 Clean off any residue
As plastic glues can set fast, cleaning up any glue spillage is essential to ensure 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.
Top 10 Best Glue for Plastic 2023 [Updated]
The range of plastic 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 2021 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.
#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 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 viscous so will run into spaces as you apply it but the range of micro-tips included allow 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 can’t stand working with runny glues but need something suitable for bonding plastic with anything from wood to metal, then you will like working with this glue. This is also not the fastest drying super glue out there, taking at least 10 seconds to start drying and forming the bond which means it is a good glue to use if you are going to have to wiggle something into the perfect position thanks to this extra time.
Other things to like about this plastic glue are that: this company sponsors the Wounded Warrior project with some of their profits so you’ll be supporting veterans and wounded service people by buying this; it is made right here in the USA so you can be sure it meets good quality and safety standards, and; the thickness makes it easy to work with. The downside of this plastic glue is that it won’t run off into gaps and it is not as fast drying as other super glues.
#3 Best Super Glue for Plastic: 3M Scotch-Weld Plastic & Rubber Instant Adhesive
This 3M’s super glue forms a highly impressive bond as it is industrial strength that won’t budge once dry. This versatile super glue is also able to form strong bonds on both porous and non-porous materials making it the perfect all-rounder glue to keep in the cupboard.
Other things to like about this plastic glue are that: it forms strong enough bonds to hold the weight of heavy objects; a little of this goes a long way so it will last you plenty of time; it dries completely clear; it is highly viscous (thick), and; it cures exceptionally fast. The downside of this plastic glue is that it has an intense initial tack that means you have to carefully place items together in exactly the right place.
#4 Best Epoxy for Plastic: Loctite’s Epoxy Plastic Bonder 0.85-Fluid Ounce Syringe
If you have struggled to glue slippery plastic or plastic-like materials such as vinyl, Mylar, and PVC together even with something marketing itself as a plastic glue, then don’t worry, as this epoxy glue 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 adhesive is the best glue to bond plastic that is challenging.
Other things to like about this plastic glue are that: it is resistant to pretty much any chemical you can throw at it; it is resistant to weather; it actually fuses plastics together rather than simply bonding them, helping to ensure stronger joins that maintain their strength even once fully cured, and; suitable for joints that might be jolted or put under strain. The downside of this plastic glue is the toxicity and it doesn’t keep all that well once opened.
#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 mends with this glue are going to stand up to the tests of time. This means even with heavyweight working against you, you won’t have nasty sagging finishes to your handy-work.
Other things to like about this plastic glue are that: it works great on almost all plastics including both hard and 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 plastic 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 Bonder 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 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 plastic to plastic 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 glue as a gap filler, and; it can be used indoors and out (use a mask). The downside of this plastic glue is that it does give off harmful fumes and dries black so 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 plastic 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 glue is also that it expands by more than three times after application helping to ensure even rough surfaces can be bonded together well. For a waterproof glue that gets into all the gaps, this is the glue that ticks all the boxes.
Other things to like about this plastic glue are that: it dries white making it easy to do make a repair job look like it didn’t happen; this 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 Duco 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 super-fast 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 plastic 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 all your hard work putting a model together, and; you can paint over this because it is a plastic cement. The downside of this plastic glue is that it is not an industrial strength bond, reaching just 300 PSI, so should only be used for arts and craft 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 come with extreme conditions, you can use this in tough weather conditions and still end up with a comparable 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 plastic glue are that: sets after 6 minutes, giving you time to put things in to 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 plastic glue is that it is a skin irritant and is not the cheapest option 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 fittings 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.
When it comes to plastic, finding the right adhesive for a repair or craft project is essential to ensure that you both protect your material and achieve an effective result. As plastic is a smooth and non-porous material bonding can be tricky, but with a specially designed plastic glue, you can achieve your intended outcome.
Poly cement, super glues, and epoxy glues will all work well with plastic, however, the type of plastics 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 can be created.