Does Wood Glue Work on Cardboard?

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Cardboard is the term given to heavy paper-based products. It has many uses. Some of them are for packing cosmetics, cereals, food products, making projects, DIY (Do it yourself) art, and craft. Wood glues are the best glues to stick cardboard together. There are many types of wood glues available in the market.

Wood glue is made from natural ingredients like beeswax and tree sap or synthetic materials. It is strong and flexible and is used to bond pieces of cardboard together.  PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue, CA (cyanoacrylate)glue, or contact cement are the best wood glues to bond different types of cardboard.


Different parts of a cardboard

Cardboard is a heavy type of paper. It’s known for its stiffness and durability. The Chinese first invented it in the 15th century. They used it for many purposes, especially as a packaging material.

The commercial production of cardboard boxes started in England in 1817. Albert Jones of New York patented the one-sided corrugated or pleated cardboard in 1871. Oliver Long improved upon Jones’ design and invented corrugated cardboard with liner sheets on both sides. This is the cardboard we use today.

To preserve the environment, the cardboard packaging industry has made a few minor changes. Nowadays, manufacturers use recycled fibers to manufacture cardboard. While working on projects, it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the cardboard and the best glue to bond it with.

The Right Type of Wood Glues To Bond Cardboard

Cardboard is hard to work with because it is rough and rigid. The right type of glue helps you to glue cardboard easily. Wood glues are best suited for this purpose. Depending on whether the project is to be a sturdy one or a temporary one, you choose the cardboard and the glue to go with it.

Glue Sticks-PVP/PVA

Illustration of a glue stick on a white background

Children use glue sticks for their art and craft projects. It is simple to apply, washable, quick to dry, and above all it is non-toxic. Materials used for glue sticks are PVP or PVA. There are different variations depending on the company that is making the product.

Glue sticks are available in different shapes. They come in various adhesion strengths. Glue sticks are adjustable, permanent, colored, or acid-free. They use it on cardboard to secure the material in place. The glue dries quickly after each application.

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) Glue

Set of isolated glue tubes or sticks, superglue

PVA is a good glue to bond cardboard together as it is a permanent adhesive. You use polyvinyl acetate glue to seal boxes, bind books, glue cardboard, and for craft work. You also use it to stick other materials onto cardboard.

It is white but dries clear. PVA glue does not emit any nasty smell. It is non-toxic. To bond two pieces of cardboard together, apply a thin layer of glue to one side of a piece of cardboard and press both pieces together for a few seconds. It’s as easy as that!

There are water-resistant PVA glues too. Withstands exposure to rain once in a while, but does not stay bonded if submerged in water.

How to Waterproof Your Cardboard using PVA

Use the following steps to waterproof your cardboard using PVA:

  • Mix PVA and water in a ratio of 1:1
  • Apply the mix to your cardboard with a paintbrush or roller
  • Let the cardboard dry for at least 2 hours before checking to see if it is dry
  • Then apply a second coat
  • Leave it to dry for another two hours
  • Now make a final mix of PVA and water in a ratio of 2:1
  • Once again apply this mix to the cardboard.
  • Allow the cardboard to dry for a minimum of two hours

Once dry, your cardboard is ready and waterproof.

Contact Cement

Contact cement in can
Image Credit: Mwnuk via Creative Commons

They make this glue from elastic polymers that are dissolved or mixed with solvents such as called toluene, hexane, or acetone. The rubber stays fluid when applied because of the solvent. It dries when left without its cover. You use it to bond cardboard together.

Contact cement has different varieties. You can use one variety of glue on various surfaces and another variety for just one specific surface.

Contact cement is very different from other adhesives because it needs to dry in the air for 15-20 minutes before bringing the two parts to be stuck together. You need to apply the cement to both parts so that the glue bonds to itself. The glue is not sticky. It is a solid substance. It becomes easy to apply when you add a solvent.

The solvent must evaporate completely before joining the two parts. It’s a tricky adhesive to apply because just a momentary contact brings about a permanent bond. Solvent-based types of contact cement release volatile organic compounds which are toxic and flammable. Work in a well-ventilated area while using this glue.

This glue is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because of the toxic and flammable nature of the volatile organic compounds released into the atmosphere.

Nowadays, many new types of contact cement are available in the market. These are water-based, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly.

CA (Cyanoacrylate) glue or Super Glue

Super and moment glue tubes realistic vector

CA glue bonds cardboard together – primarily the lighter variety of cardboard. It is easy to use, dries quickly, and forms an incredibly strong and permanent bond. Be careful while applying the glue because if it gets onto your skin, you cannot remove it with water – you need to use acetone.

CA glue offers instant bonding. It is waterproof and weatherproof. You make it from acrylic resin to dry fast. It stays liquid in an air-tight bottle. It gives a clear finish on drying. Take the pieces of cardboard you want to glue together. Spread glue on one side and join them together. Then leave it for 10-12 seconds. Your work is done!

How to Glue Cardboard Together

Here is a step-by-step guide to gluing cardboard pieces together using wood glue:

Step 1

Keep all of the materials you need to glue cardboard together ready.

You need the following materials:

Cardboard: Keep both pieces of cardboard clean and dry. (Dirt or dust prevents the adhesive from sticking properly).

Glue: Keep the glue ready-whichever wood glue you plan to use. Bear in mind the time you have to glue the cardboard together before the glue dries up.

Cutting tool: Use a craft knife, scissors, or paper cutting board to cut your cardboard. Make sure the instruments are sharp! You will need:

  • A ruler or measuring tape
  • A pencil for marking where to cut
  • A flat surface to work on is helpful. You need a large, flat surface for the gluing process so that nothing slips out of place while the glue bonds.

Step 2

Measure the cardboard.

  • Create a plan about how you want your cardboard to look.
  • Measure the length and width of each piece of cardboard using a ruler or measuring tape and mark with a pencil.
  • Use your cutting tool to cut the pieces of cardboard to size- the shape you desire.
  • Cut the cardboard pieces slightly larger than the measurements to allow the adhesive room to bond properly and adjust as needed

Step 3

Glue pieces of cardboard together.

Apply glue to one piece of cardboard. Then spread it evenly across the surface. Press the pieces together carefully and hold them down firmly. After a few seconds pull back slightly to allow air bubbles to dissipate. Then press down again and add weights, if necessary, until the glue dries.

It takes 15 minutes to dry depending on the adhesive you use, how much of it you use, and the size of the pieces of cardboard.

After the glue sets, test how strong your project is by bending it. If the two pieces slip out of place while bending, apply more glue. Give it sufficient time to dry before testing it a second time

Step 4

Remove any excess glue and other debris. Remove excess glue by wiping it with a piece of cloth or paper towel before allowing it to dry completely.

Step 5

Add decorative items like stickers or paint if desired to give it a personal touch.

Empty cardboad box in white background


Wood glues are excellent glues to stick cardboard. Contact cement glue is good for bonding cardboard, especially the latest types of glue available on the market. They are water-based, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly, but just a little expensive.

PVA glue is a very versatile glue. It is convenient to use for art and craft projects. It is not very expensive. CA glue or super glue works very well on cardboard, especially the thinner variety. It is easy to use and strong enough for all kinds of cardboard. Enjoy gluing cardboard for all your interesting woodworking activities!