Choosing Scrapbooking Adhesive

Woman assembling scrapbook

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Many people who are new to scrapbooking spend time carefully choosing an album, scrapbooking paper, and embellishments, but don't put nearly as much thought into choosing an adhesive. This can be a big mistake. Use conventional glue for scrapbooking and you may eventually find items falling off the pages or turning yellow as the years go by.

Best Adhesives for Scrapbooking

When choosing an adhesive for scrapbooking, the key is to find something that is acid-free. If you've ever thumbed through a decades-old scrapbook and noticed yellowed tape and brittle pages, you've seen the effects of acid. By using acid-free materials, including adhesives, your scrapbook will stand the test of time.

Photo Corners

If there is any chance that you may need to remove photos from your album in the future, use an adhesive that allows you to pop the photos off of the page. Old-fashioned photo corners were designed for this purpose and are great for heritage albums with a vintage feel. Photo corners are time-consuming to use in comparison with tab dispensers and tape runners, though.

Photo Tabs

Photo tabs are small squares of double-sided tape that work especially well with photos. You only need one in each corner of the photo.

Photo tab dispensers allow you to apply the adhesive squares with a rolling tool which makes using them quick and easy. Herma has a refillable photo tab dispenser, while 3L offers an inexpensive tab dispensing box that you simply throw away when it is empty.

Tape Runners

Tape runners are the most time-efficient scrapbook adhesive. Many different companies manufacture runners and each has its own pros and cons. Some are refillable, and some are disposable. Some dispense a transparent adhesive strip, some little light blue dots, and some tiny white strips of double-stick tape. 

Acid-Free Glue

The options above are much neater to use than glue, but they are also more expensive. Glue is the most affordable adhesive for scrapbooking and as long as you choose an acid-free variety, you won't have to worry about it causing your photos and pages to yellow. Acid-free glue sticks are easy-to-use, but they do not always go on smoothly and if they're not designed specifically for scrapbooking, they may lose strength over time; liquid glue goes on smoothly and has more longevity, but it's a bit messier to work with.

What Not to Use

The options above are the best adhesives for scrapbooking. Below are two commonly-used adhesives to avoid:

Children's School Glue

Adhesives need to be specifically labeled as safe for scrapbooking in order to be appropriate for use on your layouts. Many scrapbooking novices think of the construction paper projects their kids bring home from school and conclude this must mean school glue works well for sticking things on paper.

Everyday school glue might do the job in the short-term, but it has a high acid content that will cause your photos and pages to yellow as they age.

Rubber Cement

While rubber cement does create a strong, flexible bond, it also has a high acid content. Some brands of rubber cement state that they are now acid-free, but this is still a messy, time-consuming way to assemble your scrapbook.