What is PVA Glue and When Should You Use it?

what is pva glue

First things first. What in the world does PVA stand for? A little reading will tell you that it stands for polyvinyl acetates. These two big words simply mean that it’s a colorless, odorless material used in adhesives.

Ok, so now we have the hard stuff out of the way, let’s get the rest of the information out on the table. 

Where You Can Buy the Best PVA Glue 

Image Product Price
Lineco Books by Hand pH Neutral Adhesive, Archival Quality Acid-Free Dries Clear and...TOP RATEDLineco Books by Hand Ph Neutral Adhesive 16Oz
  • $14.99
Helmar CHPG125Helmar Craft and Hobby PVA Glue, 4.23 Fluid OunceHELMAR CHPG125Helmar Craft and Hobby PVA Glue, 4.23 Fluid Ounce
  • $7.99
TRAN PVA Adhesive Glue, 4-OunceTran PVA Adhesive Glue, 4-Ounce
  • $11.14

Last update on 2021-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Can’t I Just Use Elmer’s Glue?​

PVA Glue

Well, yes. You can in many cases for small crafty type projects. The exception is if you really need whatever you are gluing together to last for decades because others will see it. It’s especially important to use PVA if you plan to sell your work.

For that, we’d recommend using more high quality Tran PVA Glue

Let’s talk about why.

As a matter of fact, there’s not much difference between PVA and Elmer’s and many people use the two names interchangeably. Most people do use Elmer’s unless they are artists who sell their work. Elmer’s tends to yellow over time and tends to break down after many years, resulting in things no longer being “glued” to each other.

Think about the crafts you made in kindergarten many years ago- that construction paper or those popsicle sticks eventually lose the adhesive qualities and come apart. This is because the glue used was Elmer’s or school glue rather than PVA.

PVA doesn’t break down.

Benefits of PVA Glue:

  • ​Does not yellow over time.
  • Remains flexible.
  • It will not break down.
  • It will not affect the PH balance of papers or anything it comes in contact with.
  • It is not toxic unless you ingest it, so DO NOT eat it!
  • It does not give off nasty or harmful fumes.
  • It dries clear.

What is PVA Glue Used For?

  • Woodworkers use PVA to join pieces of wood.
  • Carpenter’s PVA is actually yellow in color.
  • Bookbinding -the glue’s flexible, strong bond allows for books to be securely bound without compromising the PH balance of the paper pages in books.
  • Paper Adhesive- during paper packaging processes
  • Envelope adhesive
  • Wallpaper Adhesive
  • Crafts

Types of PVA Glue

  • ​PVA – Polyvinyl Acetate: This type of PVA glue is used for book binding, box sealing, and used in paints. It’s typically white in color and dries clear. It’s permanent and remains flexible after drying, rather than becoming brittle over time.
  • PVA Wood Glue – This glue is a yellow-based glue, used for wood-to-wood joining. This type of glue absorbs into the wood you put it on. This glue holds even better if you clamp the wood while the glue is drying completely.
  • PVA Water Resistant Glue– This glue resists mildew and moisture, which are two major benefits of using this particular type of PVA glue. Do not confuse water-resistant with waterproof. This glue, if submerged in water, will not work as well. However, because this work is water-resistant, it can withstand inclement weather of all types. Titebond II and III are good choices for this type of glue. 

Other PVA Glue Tips:

  • ​Use PVA on porous materials.
  • PVA cleans up with warm, soapy water
  • PVA glue sets most effectively in an air-conditioned room
  • PVA works best if clamped with some type of pressure.
  • Most are not waterproof, but yellow PVA glue is a bit more water-resistant.
  • White PVA has a longer shelf life than yellow 
  • Shop smart and don’t overpay for the PVA you purchase. Most PVAs are so similar to each other, so if it claims to be used solely for wood, or only on paper, it’s probably not accurate. Most PVA glue is interchangeable with others. What’s good for wood is probably fine for your scrapbook, 
  • Check out craft stores or home improvement stores for PVA. You can also locate PVA glue in big, box stores like Wal-Mart, Target or Meijer.

Now that you have all the facts surrounding what PVA glue is and what all it’s used for, you can make a solid decision on which glue to use and for which specific projects you’ll use each for.

Russ Thompson
About Russ Thompson

Hey I'm Russ and I have been a contractor for over 20 years. I know what the cost of having the right tools and materials for the job. My passion for woodworking and helping others by workshops in my wood shop. I have beginner classes all the way up expert trade classes. Check out my bio for more.

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