October 16, 2009

How to Pick the Right Adhesive for Your Project

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DIY Hero

DIY Hero

When tackling a repair project in the home, you’re bound to face a number of obstacles.  While those who are handy with a hammer and saw around the house have acquired something of a sturdy, manly image in society, more often than not it will take a healthy dose of science to get a home repair project done correctly.  Making the precise measurements and using the right materials will often outweigh the advantages gained by employing some old fashioned brawn in a repair project.  In fact, if you are too cavalier about the details, you might end up back where you started.

Take the example of adhesives.  Whether you’re trying to fasten a piece of decorative wood to finish off the perfectly designed room, or getting some drywall to stay connected to paneling, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty (or, in this case, sticky) with different types of adhesives.  While some experts suggest going through the entire lineup of adhesives before starting on a single job, that might not be unnecessary.  After all, there may be a few types of adhesives you never find the opportunity to use.  Here is a rundown of the most basic types of adhesives and for which projects around the home they are best suited.

Polyurethane adhesives: This type of adhesive is known as a “moisture cure” adhesive or glue, due to the necessity of moisture for the substance to do its job.  The moisture may come from one of two sources: the actual components being bonded together, or the air itself.  If you’re fastening piece of wood and need a joint that will stay resistant to water, polyurethane glue will get the job done.  Being a water repellent is a great feature, but at the same time, polyurethane adhesives are rather versatile around the house.  Most building materials can be fastened together using this type of glue.  Drawbacks include the time it requires to bond (especially in dry climates) and the care with which you should clamp the materials together.  However, if used correctly, these adhesives form a strong layer of resistance to moisture and heat.

Epoxy: One of the biggest names in adhesives these days, epoxy combines two elements, a resin plus a curing agent (for hardening).  Epoxy adhesives require some mixing of the elements, yet there is no essential room temperature, other than above freezing.  Most epoxies will benefit from the use of heat.  The main need for epoxy will come when tackling a job when there is a joint that needs fastening and there is a gap in between the main points of contact.  In this case, filling the hole will be as important as joining the two surfaces.  Epoxy will provide the filling and shore up the parts simultaneously.  An epoxy adhesive can be used for anything from gaps in plumbing pieces to filling dings on a surfboard.  Make sure the proper mixture of resin and curing agent is achieved.

Cyanoacrylate: You may know this adhesive by a variety of more marketable names – super glue or “crazy” glue – and cyanoacrylate performs certain amazing tasks.  Without requiring air to harden in substances, these super glues bond by utilizing the moisture components of the surface themselves.  There is no mixing involved.  Many household items will benefit from the use of super glue.  It can be trusted with anything from porcelain and glass surfaces to even hard plastics.  Known for their inert strength and durability, cyanoacrylates are nonetheless not impervious to scratching.  Objects which undergo little surface contact will benefit most from this type of adhesive.

Classic glue: The ordinary white glue, which is part of every schoolboy’s survival kit, will certainly have a variety of uses around the house.  Probably best suited for wood to wood projects, this emulsion – containing a resin acetate along with water – works best when the parts are firmly held into place until completely dry.  This adhesive is also good for paper projects and even certain fabrics.  The biggest benefit is the microscopic traces the glue itself will leave when handled properly.  When using white glue, however, it will be vulnerable to moisture.

Yellow (or “Wood”) Glue: Another type of common household adhesive is wood glue, yellow in color and better suited for moisture-prone areas than its white glue counterpart.  Wood glue is made of a thick emulsion consisting of an aliphatic resin suspension or acetate, along with drying additives and hardeners.  The best way to see wood glue is as an advanced version of white glue, superior in fastening wood surfaces and with a thin veneer along the joint lines, especially when the materials are held into place until the glue has dried.  Expertise in the use of clamps will help wood glue do its job with optimal results.  Use wood glue with confidence even with hand-carved wood finishings, as its residue will almost always be undetectable.

Commercial adhesives: Tackling more extensive home repair jobs might require the use of more heavy duty construction adhesives.  If you’re setting out to bind floor joists or to get paneling inside the walls of your house properly fastened, you might be ready to use these commercial-grade adhesives.  Again, resins are used along with stretching agents (called elastomers) and water to create a slightly malleable bond.  The ability to isolate the objects and clamp them together will produce ideal conditions for this type of adhesive.  In the absence of such circumstances, you can use a fastener to be driven between the different surfaces.  This type of adhesive may take as long as twenty-four hours in drying time.

Before settling on any type of adhesive for a home repair job, examine all the particulars.  Obviously the amount of moisture required for the adhesive to dry will play a big role in your decision.  Besides that, the conditions of the workplace will also come into play.  Finally, the susceptibility to scrutiny will play a role in what type of adhesive to use.  Whether you are looking for a fine film or need a more intense solution for which looks don’t matter, there will be types of adhesive available.  As with any repair project, protect your hands from the impact these chemicals can have.

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