Advantages and Disadvantages of PVA Glue

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Polyvinyl acetate or PVA glue is one of the most readily available glues on the market, as it includes basic school glue. Since it is water based, it is easy to clean up, but it is also not waterproof or water-resistant in most cases.

Benefits of Basic PVA Glues

  • PVA glues do not emit strong fumes, so there's no need to work outdoors or open windows while working with it.
  • Wet glue can be wiped away with water -- no harsh chemicals needed. 
  • White PVA glue dries clear; some yellow PVA glues designed for woodworking may dry with a slightly yellow or amber tint.
  • PVA glue costs far less than some adhesives, such as two-part epoxies. 

Drawbacks of PVA Glues

  • When working with wood or similar materials, the items being bonded must be clamped together or weighed down, typically for at least 30 minutes.
  • Curing time could take up to 24 hours.
  • Standard PVA glues are not water-resistant, so they are not meant for outdoor projects unless the packaging states otherwise.
  • Both white and yellow PVA glue have limited shelf lives, typically one to three years.

Specialty PVA Glues

Some PVA glues contain other chemicals or polymers that give the adhesive beneficial properties. For instance, any PVA glue listed as "Type II" is water resistant while a "Type I" variety is designed to be waterproof. These specialty varieties are usually found in wood glues rather than basic white PVA school glue. The packaging on wood glues in particular states the ideal usage for that specific glue formulation.

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