What is PVA Glue?


What is PVA glue? Polyvinyl acetate – or PVA – glue is typically called “white” glue, carpenter’s glue, wood glue, or even school glue. It’s basically an odorless, colorless bonding agent, has no dangerous fumes, dries clear, and is safe to handle with bare hands. These qualities make it perfect for use in a wide variety of adhesives. Many people simply refer to this type of glue as “Elmer’s” glue because most students grew up using this in school for just about every arts and crafts projects, or basically anything else that is held together with glue. This article cover the differences and benefits of PVA glue.

The Difference between PVA Glue and Elmer’s Glue

what is a PVA glueFor all practical purposes, Elmer’s glue is actually a PVA glue, with a few minor modifications from standard PVA glue. Elmer’s glue has a somewhat milder acidity than PVA glue and is perfect for glue articles made from cotton, wood, or paper. Since Elmer’s glue has a mild degree of acidity, it is a better bonding agent for certain products and is not acidic enough to damage the product; plus it’s safe for anyone to use.

PVA glue is an extremely good glue to use with wood or plastic products because it dries clear, and like Elmer’s glue, is very easy to apply. It’s predominantly used by woodworkers or carpenters for joining joints together in woodworking projects or furniture repairs. It’s very adaptable, dries quickly, but any surplus product must be wiped away as soon as it is applied because it’s challenging to remove it once it is dry without damaging the item.

PVA glue also has a relatively long shelf life, and is generally inexpensive. PVA glue comes in both white and yellow coloring, and each has recommendations for their use. Typically the yellow PVA glue is more water resistant and is used more for outdoor items; however, it is not completely clear when it dries. The white PVA glue is recommended more for indoor use because it is not water resistant – dampness and humidity tends to weaken it over a period of time.

Benefits of PVA Glue

There are a number of benefits of PVA glue that makes it a far better adhesive than many other types on the market.

Some of these benefits include:

  • It is non-toxic (but not meant to be ingested – so keep it away from children who have a tendency to eat glue).
  • It has not harmful nor emit offensive fumes, which eliminates the need to use it outdoors or have plenty of ventilation if using indoors.
  • It is safe to use on many products including papers, woods, plastics, and a variety of other items.
  • The white variety dries clear.
  • The yellow variety is resistant to moisture and heat, but tends to dry with a yellowish tint.
  • The white variety does not turn yellow with age.
  • It stays flexible.
  • It doesn’t break down.
  • It’s very easy to use.
  • It is very easy to find and available in most stores.
  • There are no harsh chemicals needed to wipe away the excess glue when it is applied to the product.
  • It’s less expensive than many other varieties of adhesives.

Types of PVA Glue

Every type of glue has different properties, and are recommended for assorted projects. Keeping that in mind, there are three basic types of PVA glue:

  • PVA – Polyvinyl Acetate
    • This type has a vinyl polymer base that is used in many adhesives.
    • It’s acid-free and generally white in color.
    • The glue has a very silky appearance and spreads very smoothly onto the surface of the item when applied with specific tools including brushes or crafting sponges.
    • It has a neutral ph balance and remains flexible after it has dried.
    • This type of glue is typically used in binding books, making cards, or creating a variety of arts and crafts projects.
  • PVA – Wood Glue
    • This type of PVA glue is an aliphatic resin type of glue.
    • It is a non-toxic type of glue, but is still not meant to be eaten.
    • It is typical yellowish in color and often dries with a light yellow or amber tint.
    • This type of glue is primarily used for adhering wood pieces together because the adhesive absorbs well into the wood.
    • It spreads very smoothly when applied with the intended tools.
    • Most woodworking experts recommend clamping the pieces of wood together to ensure that the glue bonds to the wood and does not weaken if wood is moved before the glue is completely dried.
    • The excess glue is easily wiped off the wood item while the glue is still wet.
  • PVA – Water Resistant Glue
    • This type of PVA glue is also an aliphatic resin type of glue.
    • This glue is not toxic, but still should never be ingested.
    • It comes it two types: Type 1 which is waterproof and Type 2 which is water resistant (be sure to read the label to determine the specific type of PVA glue to ensure that the right type of water resistant glue is used for the project).
    • It is easy to use and smooth to spread.
    • It is resistant to mildew and has a higher range of resistance to moisture; although, it is not waterproof.
    • It is recommended for use in items that will remain outside in the weather.
    • It tends to be more yellowish in color, and often dries with a slight yellowish or amber color.
    • The glue is easily removed from the item while the glue is still damp.


While there are many different projects that must be done around the house or office which requires a reliable, dependable adhesive agent, PVA glues are generally the most highly recommended glue.

These glues have some excellent benefits for uses in gluing books, papers, crafts, plastics, woods, or a variety of other materials. It is durable and holds for a long time, remaining flexible, and without turning yellow and flaking off the item. PVA glue, PVA wood glue, and PVA adhesives which are water resistant are inexpensive, easy to find, and easy to use. PVA glue comes highly recommended for a wide variety of projects, and ensure a strong, lasting hold.

Author: John Clax

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