Cardmaking 101: Adhesives

This is a re-post (with updates) of an adhesive review from Sandy's blog, 2007. 

Can you guess which adhesive is which, before scrolling down?

While it's tacky to be stuck to one definitive answer about the best adhesive for OWH cards, there are some basic truths to stick to. (Couldn't resist the puns!) Glue is important.

It doesn't do much good to create a beautiful card if it won't last through mailing to the shipper, over to a battlefield, and back home again. And our shippers do find that many cards don't even last making one leg of the journey—through domestic mail. The card hospital sees many cards with a lost googly eye, peeling off papers, or cards stuck to the back of the card on top of them.

Following is a review of a few of the many adhesives out there, and some notes about what we've seen in the cards arriving at OWH.

  1. Double stick tape. A little awkward to use, since it sticks to your fingers! It doesn't hold up all that well, but if it's fairly fresh (ie hasn't been in your craft drawer for months), it can work. Just be sure to really press papers down really really really well.
  2. Tape runners. There are a few brands of these. . . they're nice and thin, and they lay down a good sticky line of adhesive that's a perfect width for ribbons. A little more expensive than you might like if you go through a quantity of adhesive on a regular basis, but with a 40% off coupon, they're not too bad! Look online and you can find the refills fairly inexpensively.
  3. Foam squares. Great for dimensional elements! They're cut into squares already, and are simply peeled off to stick to the back of the piece you want to pop off the card.  Each package of the brand shown (available at Joanns among other places) comes with a sheet each of teensy and middle-sized squares. There's also doublestick dimensional on rolls; beware that some brands of that type are difficult to cut without getting stuck to your scissors!
  4. Aleene's tacky glue. It's good and tacky! Great for lumpy embellishments that don't stick to tapes—things like buttons, and ribbon that's too thin for tape runners. It comes in all sorts of types—clear, white, etc. Beware of any liquid adhesives, since they can warp and warble paper. (A good alternative, discovered by me after these photos were taken, is Glossy Accents or Diamond Glaze — they is completely clear, and has a lot of craft applications as well. Works great for googlie eyes, since it is so much clearer than other glues.)
  5. Glue sticks. The quality depends on the brand; almost all of the falling-apart cards we receive had been adhered with glue sticks, but we have no way to know what brand the cardmaker used. One use that is perfect for gluesticks is sticking text-weight paper into dark cards as a liner; the light paper is thin enough that the gluestick holds very well.
    We know that glue sticks are most affordable for some cardmakers; if gluesticks are your only choice, be very sure to use enough glue, and press it down really securely to be sure it stays put!
  6. ATG gun. Shown in the photo here next to a tape runner, for scale. It's by far the best purchase I have ever made in my years of crafting. It lays down a line of adhesive—somewhat repositionable if you remove the item quickly and before pressing it down. It  takes a little time to get used to the large gun, but once you get the hang of it, you will love it. I recently got one on eBay for $20, and the 36-yard tape rolls are incredibly cheap if you purchase them in enough quantity! Tapes come in 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch rolls. If you want to see what one "feels" like before purchasing, stop by your local frame shop and ask to see theirs.
  7. Rubber cement. Used on very rare occasions. I get the most use out of it when altering 3D items; it works great to cover curved surfaces and adhering around corners. There are two kinds: one you put only on one surface, and stick the other to it; the other, you paint both surfaces, let them dry, and they reallllly stick well. I didn't show it in the samples on black paper, because once it dries you really can't see it anyway. 
  8. Glue dots. A late addition (this tutorial was created a while ago, before I discovered the joy of glue dots!), these are a great adhesive for lumpy items.  They come in several sizes, many brands, and usually on rolls. Some are really thick, others thin, and all are VERY sticky. One caution: use a glue dot smaller than the item you're securing, or your card will become useless as it sticks to the back of a card in front of it! If you want an inexpensive option for gluedots, you can make your own—Seongsook posted a tutorial during our March 2010 bloghop!

So there you have it. The glues I choose! What other adhesives are out there that I missed? -Sandy

Carol L  – (March 23, 2010 at 4:57 AM)  

This was a great and very informative post! Thanks for all the useful information and tips!

Kajikit  – (March 23, 2010 at 6:25 AM)  

I use gluesticks for most of my cardmaking... but the ONLY kind that I've found reliably strong enough to last is Elmer's extra-strength craft-bond gluesticks. It's great for glueing paper and cardstock. Cheaper gluesticks just don't bond well enough. For decorative elements I use Scotch quick-dry adhesive, or gluedots if it's something that can't get wet.
One of these days I'll get an ATG...

Barb  – (March 23, 2010 at 8:45 AM)  

love my ATG gun - best purchase I ever made - i buy enough adhesive for the entire year -


kssdesigns  – (March 23, 2010 at 9:19 AM)  

This is great info! I had hoped none of the cards I sent last time had to go to the card hospital. I wonder about the longevity of Beacon's 3in1 glue. I use that on most of my cards and haven't had a problem. It's relatively inexpensive, clear, and gives you time to adjust your project before it dries. Would love to know your thoughts on this as far as OWH cards go.

Brenda  – (March 23, 2010 at 9:46 AM)  

This is a great review. I am a Tombow user, but I've found that for cards I like Close to My Heart's Bonding Memories Broad Glue Pen. It goes a long way but really holds well.

Kate  – (March 23, 2010 at 12:21 PM)  

Sticky strip!

That ATG gun looks hardcore.

Kimme  – (March 23, 2010 at 12:31 PM)  

Mono Multi is a liquid glue that can be permanent or repositional. It works well with card stock as a dot in each corner usually holds. It's cheaper than most other adhesives too if you are on a budget and a bottle will last a good long time.

Unknown  – (March 23, 2010 at 1:04 PM)  

There's another liquid adhesive out there that many scrapbookers and cardmakers swear like-it's called Zip Dry. I work for the company that makes it-Beacon Adhesives, but I would never vouch for it if I truly didn't believe in it. It never ever wrinkles paper-even tissue and vellum, and excess wipes away without leaving residue. I love OWH-my daughter's bf is in the Stan and just received his box of cards. Thanks to all for your good deeds and supporting our troops!

Diane  – (March 23, 2010 at 1:44 PM)  

I am a ZIP DRY nut! I use it all the time. I also use Tombow tape runners for my ribbons or Close to My Heart's Liquid Glass. The Liquid Glass is great for buttons or anything else that needs to stay secure. It is also great for adding glossy dimension to stamped art or accenting part of decorated papers.

CARO  – (March 23, 2010 at 7:06 PM)  

I love my ATG gun! And double sided foam tape on sale for embellisments.

Julie –   – (March 23, 2010 at 7:07 PM)  

It is a little more work to use, but for longevity I swear by a double sided tape that has multiple names... Terrific Tape, Scor-Tape, Sookwang - take your pick, it's all the same product! You can order it in multiple widths and it sticks like nobody's business. Check out the Products page at for details.
That totally sounded like a sales pitch. I don't sell the stuff, I swear!

Cheryl  – (March 24, 2010 at 6:18 PM)  

Thank goodness you addressed this issue...I am a newbie to cardmaking and spent quite a lot trying to find a good sticky glue that my papers would peel right up when dry. I finally settled on Beacon 3 in 1 for chunky embellishments and also works for papers and ive had no warping so far. For less mess though i also use adtech glue runner "permanent" found at walmart for about 2.50 per pkg of 2 refills. I sometimes use the permanent sticky tape on the edges and put the beacons down the center strip so that when i am applying my matte i can reposition until i get it just right then press down the sides. I have yet to find any brand of glue stick i completely trust for a trip to A stan! Happy Scrap' n!

Anonymous –   – (January 3, 2011 at 7:50 AM)  

I have a roll of Scor-Tape, 1" wide, and I put a piece of it on the middle of everything I attach to the card... mostly it's just other layers of paper. Then I use my tape runner as always...on the sides, top and bottom. I hope that the Scor-Tape will keep the layers together no matter what.

Stamper in TRAINing –   – (April 1, 2011 at 12:31 PM)  

Squares, I'm a photo squares girl. Are they OK? I sure hope so bc I use them all the time! ;

Operation Write Home  – (April 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM)  

If they stick well, probably, stamper in training. Without having tried them I cant be positive, but if they stay put and hold everything down, you're probably fine :)

MerryBlissmas  – (February 22, 2012 at 5:10 PM)  

Any word on how Xyron "stickers" hold up?

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