Adhesives For DIY Projects

Improvement jobs around the home demand good adhesives.

You can get very good all-purpose sticking materials such as Dufix,which is based on polyvinyl acetate (PVA), to tackle almost any job except the joining of polythene or two impermeable surfaces (glass, metal and suchlike). But it will not stand too much water — no good for mending much-used broken tea cups, for instance. In other words, it can be washed but not immersed in water for any length of time. This stricture does not affect its bonding properties when mixed with a thin layer of cement mortar over, say, a worn doorstep, because there is no lateral strain, and although the adhesive might soften with damp its sticking properties will not be impaired.

A disadvantage of all-purpose PVA adhesives is that they will not stand intense heat: 80°C (176°F) is about the limit — which is very much hotter than your hand can bear.


If you are a perfectionist and want a perfect bond, buy a product specially formulated for the purpose in mind. Some dry by evaporation of the solvents they contain and others — those in two packs which have to be mixed immediately before use — by chemical action.

A reader has criticized the following list on the grounds that brand names are not mentioned. Including them would be difficult because a number of popular products may not fall entirely within these categories, or may include additives, or their formulation may be altered from time to time by the manufacturer.

However, the base of a proprietary adhesive is generally given on the container label or in sales literature and, with this information and this list, it should not be difficult to check the manufacturer’s claim for his particular product.

Spray adhesives

There is considerable variation in opinion as to genetic damage to people and their unborn children caused by certain spray adhesives.

When these adhesives are sold in large quantities to industry, warning may be given to the operators handling them; but it is sometimes difficult to keep industrial products out of the do it yourself market and it is also difficult to determine whether their occasional use is dangerous.

Most of the popular adhesives can be deemed safe — as far as I known at present. But when it comes to an unusual spray product it would be wise to read the manufacturer’s literature carefully, not omitting the small print; and if there is any doubt, write to him for his assurance that everything is OK.

Don’t be put off by vague expressions such as: ‘If it splashes In your eyes, wash with water and get medical attention.’ What medical attention? Do you dash round to your doctor hoping he is available or do you telephone for an ambulance? If your doctor is in, do you say, ‘I have some XYZ in my eye’? Will he know what XYZ is and what is in it? In any case, you should make sure that nothing ever splashes into your eyes!

And ‘Keep out of reach of children’: does this not apply to everything — Yes, EVERYTHING?