Differences Between Elmer's Glue & Tacky Glue

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Choose the type of glue that best suits your project.
Choose the type of glue that best suits your project. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Glue is an incredibly useful tool for craft, office and even construction-related needs. There are many different varieties and brands of this household adhesive bonding agent, and different types of glues are oftentimes better suited for different projects. Elmer’s glue is a popular brand of adhesive that comes in several different varieties, and tacky glue refers more specifically to a type of glue, so there are quite a few differences between these two adhesives.

Type

Tacky glue is a thick, clear adhesive that is known for its strong hold and quick drying properties. This product is manufactured by a variety of different craft and glue brands, including the Elmer’s company, but the name of this versatile glue remains the same. Elmer’s is a craft and office supply company that manufactures a variety of glues including wood glue and the popular white Elmer’s glue, which according to the company website, is the No. 1 brand of glue used in schools.

Uses

Choosing a type of Elmer’s glue will dictate the uses that are best accomplished by the product, but the classic white Elmer’s school glue is most often used on paper or crafts that involve small or light objects. Elmer’s glue is a thinner product than tacky glue, so it is not recommended for gluing together heavy objects that can easily slip or move in the drying process. Joann Fabrics and Crafts recommends using tacky glue when working with materials such as wood, metal, glass, ceramic, china, Styrofoam and most plastics.

Drying Speed

One of the main differences between these two types of glue is the rate at which they dry and adhere the objects together. The thin white liquid of Elmer’s school glue is a slow drying formula, which lends itself well to projects being done by children. You can unstick and move elements when using the glue, and any projects will need to sit for a period of time to ensure they have properly dried. Tacky glue is the opposite of school glue because it is intended to bond objects and dry quickly to prevent any slippage, especially if heavier items are involved.

Cleanup

Both types of glue are made using polyvinyl acetate, which is a rubbery synthetic polymer that is frequently used in glue production. These ingredients create products that are water soluble, so both can be cleaned using water when the product is still wet. It is important to remember that the slower drying properties of the Elmer’s glue lend themselves better to cleanup and removal, and the process can be much more difficult if you are trying to remove tacky glue that has already set and dried completely. The use of chemical products such as glue remover or acetone may be necessary if the glues have dried completely.

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