There is a dizzying array of glue and adhesive products in the stores that promise to stick together whatever it is you are working on—far too many to keep track of. The goal of this article is to help you better understand both the properties and uses for the most common categories of adhesives used for home improvement . Curing Vs. Drying
Adhesives and glues change physically and chemically when going from a fluid state in the container to a solidified state after application. This is the process of curing. When curing happens by the evaporation of water or another solvent, this process is typically called drying. Adhesives that cure by drying can often be dissolved in their original solvent. This is the case for most water-based glues and is the reason they are not water-proof.
Other curing processes involve a chemical reaction, whether from absorbing moisture in the air, or by catalyzing one adhesive ingredient with another. The resulting mixtures—once fully cured—are typically more resistant to solvents (including water). Preparing Surfaces Besides the bonding surfaces being clean and free of and oil or grease, follow the specific instructions included with the adhesive for best results. For example, some exotic oily woods require a cleaning with specific chemical solvents to enhance bonding. And despite the fact that most glues adhere to the substrate on a molecular level, some adhesives recommend scuffing the materials being glued with coarse sandpaper to increase the bonding surface area or to add a degree of mechanical bonding.
Open Time Follow the instructions for open time (or working time) and remember that higher temperatures mean shorter open times. Spread the glue and join the surfaces before the adhesives set up, and clamp as soon as possible afterward. For best results, leave the work undisturbed for several hours. Even though some glues only require 30 minutes of clamping time, they will not reach full bond strength for 24 hours. Buy Fresh Look at the dates on any adhesives you buy to find the freshest product possible. Be aware of the shelf life of the product. Don’t stock up and plan on storing adhesives for years; many should be used within one year of opening. Store adhesives in a cool place away from direct sunlight.
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