What is PVA Glue and Why You Need It?

The most commonly used glue in almost every household is PVA glue. PVA glue is considered a staple adhesive. It’s multipurpose, can be used on almost all types of surfaces, and available almost everywhere. 

But if you are new to the world of adhesives, you might wonder, what is PVA glue?

How does one use it, and where can it be used. The usage and facilities of a PVA glue is not rocket science but still needs to be properly discussed before you use it somewhere.

In today’s article, we will talk about what PVA glue is, the science behind PVA glue, how it should be used, and where it should be used. Let’s start.

What is PVA Glue?

PVA stands for polyvinyl acetate. According to Wikipedia, “Polyvinyl acetate is an aliphatic rubbery synthetic polymer with the formula. It belongs to the polyvinyl ester family, with the general formula -[RCOOCHCH₂]-. 

It’s a one kind of thermoplastic. PVA glue is known as wood glue or school glue. It’s so commonly used that it has become a household favorite. This adhesive was first discovered by Fritz Klatte in 1912.

Polyvinyl acetate is a colorless and odorless substance used to make the adhesive, hence the name PVA glue was invented. This glue is mainly used on porous surfaces. It’s used to paste two different materials together like wood, cloth, plastic, etc.

Properties of PVA Glue

The main component of PVA glue is polyvinyl acetate which is an odorless, transparent chemical ingredient. Polyvinyl acetate is the polymer of the vinyl acetate monomer. PVA is an atactic polymer.

It’s oil resistant. This component is highly flexible. It can also be mixed in water. It doesn’t react to water. Although it can be mixed into water, it’s insoluble in other solvents except for ethanol. Properties of PVA glue are;

Non-toxic: Unlike most other adhesives, PVA glue is nontoxic. It’s a biodegradable adhesive that is kind to our climate and sea life. You can apply PVA glue using your hands as it will not harm your skin in any way. Unless you ingest it, it will not do any harm to you. So, don’t ingest it.

Doesn’t leave toxic fumes: The most positive side of PVA glue is that it doesn’t leave toxic fumes. There are many adhesives available in the market, but most leave a disgusting, chemical-smelling toxic fume that when ingested, can make you feel sick. PVA glue doesn’t leave any sort of fumes so it’s completely safe to use even around kids.

Odorless: This glue is odorless as the main component is Polyvinyl acetate which is an odorless component.

Dries clear and paintable: Regular PVA glue resembles a white tint, and dries clear, and can be painted over. Wood glue, on the other hand, has a yellow tint to it that resembles wood quite a lot. But it dries clear as well. And just like regular PVA glue, it can be painted over as well.

Longer lasting period: PVA glue can last up to 10 years. It doesn’t break apart as time passes. It also doesn’t turn yellow with time.

Neutral Ph balance: The chemical component in the PVA glue doesn’t react to other chemical components of the surface. It remains neutral. So, if you want to use it in a chemistry science project, go ahead. It’s completely safe!

Types of PVA Glue

Regular PVA glue:

Regular PVA glue is used for day to day usages. If you are using the glue to seal small boxes or maybe for a small DIY craft project, then this is a perfect choice for that. This glue is ideal for use on paper, plastic, cardboard, etc. It dries clear and is white.

Wood PVA glue:

Wood PVA glue is the type of PVA glue that is suitable for use on wood and wood-like materials. It’s a bit stronger than regular PVA glue. It’s not entirely clear, rather has a yellow tint to it. It absorbs to wood better than regular PVA glue. When you are using this glue to attach two wood pieces, it’s important to clamp the pieces together for a long time.

Waterproof PVA glue:

Waterproof PVA glue is another common PVA glue. This might come as a shock to you, but most PVA glue is not waterproof. If you are making something that will touch or be submerged in water then it’s important to use a water-resistant PVA glue. Don’t forget that water-resistant glue will not break off if submerged in water, but waterproof glue will still break apart.

PVA Glue Uses

As I’ve mentioned earlier, PVA glue is a multipurpose glue. It has many uses and it’s suitable for using many different surfaces. Some of the uses of this glue are:

Crafts and DIY projects: The main usage of regular PVA glue is in crafts and DIY projects. Since this glue is nontoxic, doesn’t leave toxic fumes, and is safe to use around kids, it can be used at your or your kids’ small, lightweight school projects.

Woodworking: Wood PVA glue is used to attach wood pieces. It can be a great adhesive if you are new to woodworking and are looking for a user-friendly adhesive.

Paper crafts: It’s a great paper adhesive as it doesn’t change the paper’s ph level. It can be used to glue envelopes, craft paper, etc.

Bookbinding: One of the most common usages of PVA is bookbinding. Since it’s very flexible, it can be used to bind books together with a secure yet flexible bond.

Drywall primer: Believe it or not, PVA glue can be used as a drywall primer.

Fabric glue: PVA glue is compatible with fabric hence can be used as a fabric glue. Can be used on leather as well.

Benefits of PVA Glue

Truth be told, there are hundreds of glues available in the market. This is why it’s important to know the benefits of PVA glue. Knowing the benefits will allow you to understand why this glue is great and why you should use PVA glue.

Some of the benefits of PVA glue are:

  • PVA glue is a Non-toxic glue which makes it user friendly.
  • Will not turn into a yellowish colour over time.
  • Dries clear.
  • It’s paintable which means you can paint over the glue once it’s fully dried.
  • Once applied, this glue stays put. It will not break down over time.
  • This adhesive is very flexible and doesn’t harden up once dried. This is why it’s used on binding books, attaching beads, and making jewellery.

Steps to Using PVA to Glue Wood

As I’ve mentioned earlier, wood PVA glue is a different PVA glue. It’s stronger than a regular PVA adhesive. It’s not white like regular PVA glue, it’s yellow. It absorbs wood better. The steps to using PVA glue to attach two wood pieces are:

  1. Clean the surface you are going to apply the glue to.
  2. If the adhesive comes in a tube then squeeze it to the surface very carefully. Don’t put too much pressure on the tube or else, there will be too much adhesive and too little surface.
  3. Use a brush to spread the glue onto the surface. If needed more, apply more with care. Use the brush to spread. Make sure you are spreading it evenly. If there are still excessive glue left on the surface, then you can dampen a cloth or tissue with hot water and remove it.
  4. Attach both surfaces once the glue is spread properly. When you are putting one surface on top of another, do it carefully and make sure to get rid of any air bubbles stuck in between.
  5. Apply something heavy on top of the pieces to help them dry and attach for at least 30 minutes. Keep the pieces attached for at least 24 hours to let them cure properly.
  6. If there is any excess glue stuck to the piece, then you can use sandpaper to rub it off.

Are PVA Glue and Elmer’s Glue the Same Thing?

This is a common misconception. Elmer’s is a type of PVA glue but not entirely a regular PVA Glue. The main component or ingredient in both adhesives is Polyvinyl acetate. Even though they are of the same type, they both provide a different result. Elmer’s glue is a very common name for school glue. It’s widely used and almost everyone knows about it. A small school craft project or just a drop of glue to fix something in the household, Elmer’s glue is a trusted source of adhesive for a lot of people.

As I’ve said in the beginning, the main component between these two adhesives is Polyvinyl acetate. However, Elmer’s glue also uses a wide variety of components to produce its signature Elmer’s glue. On the other hand, a regular PVA glue is entirely made of polyvinyl acetate.

The lasting power of these two adhesives differs by a huge margin. Regular PVA glue can last up to 10 years or more if not mixed with water. Since regular PVA glue is not waterproof, if it touches water, the lasting time may reduce. On the other hand, Elmer’s glue is not as long-lasting. It will break off as time passes and the joint will slowly break down.

Regular PVA glue doesn’t change colour as time passes. On the other hand, with more time passed, Elmer’s glue will turn yellow.

If you are making a school project, or a small and light project that doesn’t need to last for ages, Elmer’s is a great choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for an adhesive that will help the product to stay attached for a very long time, PVA glue is going to be the better choice.

Elmer’s glue and PVA glue is not the same thing. You might wonder, can’t I just use Elmer’s instead? Of course, you can. But before you do, you must decide how important the project is.

Next Read : Elmer’s Carpenters Wood Glue

Disadvantages of PVA glue

Below are some of the most prominent disadvantages of the PVA glue:

  • The biggest disadvantage of PVA glue is that it’s not waterproof.  99% of the time, PVA glue is not waterproof. If you want waterproof PVA glue, make sure to buy one that says it’s a waterproof PVA glue.
  • When you are working with PVA glue the clamping time is quite long compared to other glues. When you are using PVA glue, you need to clamp the materials for at least 30 minutes.
  • The shelf life of PVA glue is quite limited.
  • PVA glue is paintable, but you can’t varnish over it.


One of the common misconceptions about PVA glue is that you need different PVA glue for different purposes. This is not entirely true. Most PVA glue is suitable for use on different surfaces.

However, carpenters PVA glue, woodworking PVA glue are different from regular PVA glue. As long as you are aware of what you are going to use it for, you will be able to find what you need. If you get PVA glue on your clothes, 2-3 warm washes will get it off, so rest easy!

You May Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top