How to Choose Which Glue or Adhesive to Use for Cardmaking

How to pick the right type of glue for your card making projects

Woman making homemade cards
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If you are starting out making your own handmade greeting cards, one of the items you will need to add to your crafting workbox is adhesive.

While sticking a couple of elements together to make a card may seem like a pretty straightforward task, it can be surprisingly tricky. The type of adhesive you require will depend both on what you want to do with it and how you want the card to be used. For example, if you are making a special card that someone is likely to want to keep as a memento or keepsake, you will want to make sure that you use an adhesive that will not discolor or lose its adhesive properties. However, if you are making a card that you don't expect to be kept, the long term qualities of the adhesive will be less important.

What Adhesive Is Best for Cardmaking?

Here are some of the different types of adhesives you may see in a craft store and how they can be used:

  • Stick glue: Stick glues are, as the name suggests, sticks of glue which are pushed up and down in the same manner as lipsticks. They are easy to use and widely available in a range of different sizes. While it is difficult to be very precise with a glue stick (they are not good for very fine work), they are certainly very convenient and are perfect for adhering paper and cardstock together. When you apply glue sticks remember not to press too hard so you don't end up with lumps of glue on the page. Glue sticks do not work on porous materials such as acetate.
  • Hot glue: Hot glue is a great addition to your workbox. You will need a glue gun in order to melt the glue sticks. Hot glue is particularly good for attaching items such as fabric or ribbon to handmade cards. Hot glue bonds items together because it melts when heated and it sets solid when it is cool, therefore bonding items pressed into the melted glue. Hot glue sets into a rigid form and therefore may crack if it is used in a project which may bend or flex.
  • PVA and tacky glue: PVA glues are a versatile type of glue and can be used in a wide variety of projects. These glues are white (sometimes referred to as white glue) and they dry with a transparent finish. PVA glue is water-soluble so it can be thinned with water if required, for example for decoupage projects. PVA glues are handy for card making projects, however, remember not to use too much as they can cause paper and cardstock to warp.
  • Double-sided tape: Double-sided tapes are ideal for attaching elements to handmade cards, for example for layering paper or adding a card topper or photograph. The tapes are available in a variety of widths. The only drawback of using double-sided tape is that it is less easy to rectify mistakes than other adhesives. Thick double-sided tape is useful if you want to add dimension to your project, for example, if you are layering pieces together and you want to add depth.
  • Glue dots: If you want to raise the surface of an element in your card making project then glue or adhesive dots are perfect. These are 'blobs' of adhesive which will adhere to a variety of surfaces.
  • Glue pens, runners and other precise adhesive applicators: If you are working on a very detailed card you may require the precise application of adhesive. There are a number of products, such as glue pens and adhesive tape runners which help with the precise application of glue.
Illustration of adhesives for cardmaking
Illustration: The Spruce / Brooke Pelczynski

Decorative Glue Products

While when you are starting out, you will be looking for glue products for their adhesive qualities, there are also some glues that are used predominantly for their decorative qualities. Glue pads, for example, can be used in the same way as normal rubber stamping ink pads, however, they leave an adhesive surface on the page which can be coated in glitter or flocking powder. A highly popular decorative glue is glitter glue and this is a mess-free way to add sparkle to your handmade cards. Just be careful to not spill.

These are just a few of the different types of glue you will find available which can be used in your card making projects. If you are unsure of what type of glue to use, ask for advice in your local craft store or take a look at one of the online glue advice websites such as This to That or Glue It to It from Michaels.