What Is PVA Glue And When To Use It?

What is pva glue & when to use it

PVA is perhaps one of the best adhesives in the market today that I would confidently recommend to any one today. I am a lover of glues and since I learnt about PVA glue, it has been one of the best adhesives that I use for my woodwork projects. While there are many reasons for using other types of glue, PVA glue has its wins for me, and I will outline in detail, the power that this glue has.

PVA glue, also widely known as wood glue, carpenter’s glue or white glue, is an odorless and colorless glue, which does not yellow over time. PVA stands for polyvinyl acetates, a compound that makes the glue colorless and odorless.

Most of the common glues available in the market for woodworking has PVA in it. Although generally colorless, the water-resistant version is yellow in color and called Yellow PVA Glue. PVA glue is non-toxic, water based and suitable for both interior and exterior woodworking.

The Yellow PVA glue is relatively expensive and I do not use it as much. On the other hand, the white PVA glue is ideal for interior works, and it is very affordable.

Although the white and yellow PVA glues are strong adhesives, the white PVA is weakened by moisture after a length of time. However, the yellow PVA glue is an absolute water resistor and is therefore ideal for exterior use.

Types of PVA glue

PVA glue is classified into some major categories. The categories are basic and understandable for everyone.

1. PVA- Polyvinyl Acetate

This type of PVA glue is easy to find on shelves in any store today. This basic glue is often used when sealing papers. It can also help you in binding books and sealing boxes. It dries very fast and is white in color. This glue is a personal favorite, as it remains flexible even after drying off.

2. Polyvinyl Acetate Wood

This type of PVA glue is commonly referred to as wood glue and as its name suggests, it is best for projects that involve wood and wood joinery. It is a yellow-based glue and is best for working on wood. Before drying, this glue absorbs and camps into wood for firm joining before it dries out.

3. PVA Water Resistant Glue

I prefer this PVA glue for its ability to beat the moisture, mold, and mildews. I would however advise you not to confuse it with a waterproof glue because it is not. While it is not a water resistant glue, this type of PVA glue is awesome at withstanding harsh weather conditions.

Top Features of PVA glue

  • It works faster
  • Has a long shelf life
  • It has a super strong adhesive capability
  • It is affordable
  • Easy to apply
  • It dries clear
  • It is non-toxic

PVA glue, additionally, dries quite fast and is therefore not clumsy when handling it. With this in mind, ensure that you always wipe out any excessive spillage instantly. You may not be able to take it off easily once it dries up.

When is PVA Glue Used?

PVA glue is versatile in nature and can fit as the perfect adhesive for many applications. However, the PVA glue can be used in some main ways.

  1. In building construction: PVA wood glue is used for all kinds of activities in construction. Whether you are looking to seal concrete internally, it creates tight wood joints, even when the wood sizes are different.
  2. You can use it to bind a workbook. The PVA glue helps you bind your books neatly and will provide a strong and flexible bond that will secure your book without affecting the PH balance of the papers on your books.

Off-the-book Uses of PVA glue

There is a lot more that glue can be used to do, besides the sticking purpose for which it is made. Besides sticking, glue has cosmetic as well as medical purposes. Here are some uses that non-toxic PVA glue can be used.

  1. Removal of Splinters from the Skin

To get a splinter from off your skin, smear some PVA glue over the place where the splinter enters the skin. Once the PVA dries, it will cause pressure over the entry hole and pull the splinter in. one the splinter adjoins to the glue, you can peel off the glue and the splinter will come off.

  1. Sealing wounds on plants

Exposed plant wounds after pruning are a sure way of inviting disease into the plant. If left predisposed, the plant may be infected and die. To prevent such an outcome, ensure that you apply a coat of PVA glue on top of the wound. The glue will create an impenetrable layer that protects the plan against infection.

  1. Filler material

I have used the PVA glue to seal some cracks and holes on my wall while doing some painting job. The only tick to achieving this is by using a pipette to achieve your results.

  1. Tightening Screw holes

Often, you may find trouble fitting a screw and tightening it on a screw hole. To make sure that you screw sits tight on the hole before screwing, pour a few drops of the glue into the hole. Leave it to dry for about twenty minutes and wait for the results. Once the glue dries up, screw in and your screw will perfectly fit without effort. (Check my guide on wood glue drying to find out the ideal drying time for all types of wood glues.)

  1. Making slime

When mixed with liquid starch and food color, PVA glue will give you a cheap resource of slime that you and your children can enjoy for a long time.

Best Tips for Using PVA glue

If you are looking for the perfect result while using PVA glue on your projects, it is crucial that you know how to use it in the right way.

The following tips will help you to perfect your results while using PVA glue.

  1. Only use the glue on material that is porous
  2. To increase the tightness of surfaces joined with PVA glue, ensure that you tightly clamp for maximum adhesion
  3. Keep in mind that PVA glue is not waterproof. However, you may opt for a water resistant solution, which is the yellow PVA.
  4. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you can achieve great binding results, and so that your PVA glue remains strong.
  5. While using the PVA glue, an air-conditioned room is perfect to allow the glue to set within the joinery.
  6. Use warm and soapy water to clean off the excess PVA glue.

Simple Steps in Using PVA glue

While there are many ways in which you can use PVA glue, I have noted through experience that some ways can help in maximizing the results for you. I have prepared this guide on using PVA to help you achieve the most out of the glue that you use.

  • Clean the wood surfaces that you want to join
  • Squeeze the PVA glue onto the surfaces of both pieces of wood.
  • With a damp cloth, clean out the excess spillage of the polyvinyl acetate glue that you are using.
  • Put the pieces of wood on a clamp and tighten it.
  • While tightening the clamp, rub the wood in opposite directions to clear out any air that is trapped in between.
  • A G-clamp works best as your clamping tool.
  • Allow the piece of joined work to gain a firm hold (preferably 24 hours.)
  • Sand off any excess glue that spilt out of the joint while clamping.

Removing PVA glue from Wood

Spill-off is commonplace when using any type of glue. In case you are wondering on how to get an excessive spill-off of PVA glue from wood, all you will need to do is sanding, for it to come out.

If the polyvinyl acetate glue is spilt over your clothes, you will need a couple of washes with some warm water. If you have to deal with PVA glue on the carpet, a warm wash is the option you are looking for.

Things I like about PVA Glue

  • It does not emit choking fumes like otjer adhesive glues.
  • You can simply wipe off the wet glue using water only. No need for other chemicals.
  • White PVA glue dries out clear.

Things I do not like about PVA Glue

  • Bacteria, yeast, lichens, and algae easily degrade PVA glue.
  • Although you can paint over PVA glue, you cannot apply varnish over it.
  • The polymer of the PVA glue when frozen is degraded. Thus it cannot function
  • The bond takes more time for it to be fully strong.
  • The glue is not entirely resistant to water.

What To Look Out for When Buying the next PVA glue

The type of PVA glue that you purchase is dependent on the project that you have. There are different solutions for home- craft, wood joinery, professional wood projects, and even DIY works.

Finding the right PVA glue is easy when you have an idea of what your project will be like. If it will involve light binding tasks, then you will not need a strong PVA adhesive.

Here are some of the pointers that I use in finding the best PVA glue for my projects.

1. Pricing

PVA glue differs in pricing from one store to another. Ensure that the PVA glue you buy is a good deal for you. You might not notice it, but saving a few dollars might be worth your while. Check out some PVC glue prices on Amazon here.

2. Check out what People Say

The best way of knowing how great a product is, is by checking out what other people think about it. Previous buyers are the best way to help you in knowing if a product is great. You might save yourself the shock of buying some poor products.

3. Know the type you need and the amount of work you have

There are different PVA glue types for various functions. Understanding the nature of your work will help in finding the right glue for you. In addition, knowing the volume of the work that you will be doing will help you in finding the right amount of PVA glue that you need.

4. Compare the different types of PVA groups

There are many types of PVA glues used for serving different capacities. They also come with different features. Getting the best type of glue for your work is important. Keep in mind that a wood glue can efficiently function on a paper-binding project.

Common Questions you may need to know about

What is the difference between water proof and water resistant? There is a type of PVA glue that is water resistant. By this, a certain type of glue can withstand a number of weather elements that might be harsh for some other types of PVA glue. However, the glue will not stay solid if kept in water. A waterproof type of glue will still serve its purpose even if it is submerged in the water for years.

Can I use PVA wood glue for my scrapbook? While working on your scrapbook, any type of wood PVA glue is okay. However, paper glue will not work when used in wood projects.


With the information I have provided above, it is now possible for you to get a clear idea of what PVC glue is, when it is used, and the best practices that can help you maximize your results when using it.

I hope this will help you in making the best choice for the right PVA glue that will suit your needs. While checking for the best PVA glue, you can also check out on the additives that come with your glue. Modern PVA glues, which are superior, may come with additives that are meant to enhance the longevity of the binding. For it to work properly on your projects, the PVA glue you purchase should come in the right viscosity. It should not be too watery, nor should it be too thick to attain an even spread throughout the binding surfaces.

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