PVA Glue 101 | Types, Advantages & Uses for Woodworking Projects

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An Introduction to PVA Glue and its Uses

It might seem like PVA glue one of several types of glue used in woodworking. The fact of the matter is that PVA glue appears just like any other glue that you can get at your local crafts store. The keyword there being “appears”. While PVA glue might look like your standard glue, it is actually quite different when it comes to its quality as an adhesive.

If you are doing some basic crafting projects then a simple glue will suffice. However, using PVA glue does have some advantages. One of which is longevity. If you want your project to last for quite a long time, a PVA glue is the way to go.

Different Types of PVA Glue

There are different types of PVA glue available and it is important to understand each type starting your project to avoid any issues moving forward.

PVA Glue (Polyvinyl Acetate) – As we have discussed earlier, this type of glue is perfect for archiving duties. PVA glue is defined by its normally white color and its ability to dry up clearly. This is a permanent glue that retains its flexibility even after drying unlike another type of glues that become brittle and break apart after a while.

PVA Wood Glue – A pretty self-explanatory type of glue, it has a yellowish color and is used for joining two wooden materials together.

Gorilla Wood Glue, 8 ounce Bottle
Gorilla Wood Glue (Image: Amazon)

PVA Water Resistant Glue – As the name implies, this type of glue is quite resistant to moisture. However, this is not waterproof and will not be as effective when used underwater.

What are the Advantages of Using PVA Glue?

As we have stated earlier in this article, PVA glue is a good choice for those who wish to maintain their works such as artists who wish to sell their art pieces in the market as well as an archivist who want to maintain the pristine condition of papers.

Basically, PVA glue is generally used due to its ability to not affect the quality of the object it sticks to. It does not stain the papers or deteriorate paper’s quality over time. It also does not affect other chemicals such as paint which would often fade in time when a standard glue is applied. For artists, PVA glue is essential to help maintain the quality of their work.

Now, PVA or polyvinyl acetates is a highly recommended adhesive for artists and for people who plan on archiving papers or documents but will need to use a glue in the process. What makes PVA glues especially in this category is the fact that it does not produce any scent and can be handled safely even without the use of gloves. The only time it is toxic is if a person accidentally ingests it.

PVA glues are also acid-free. Hence, why it is a recommended adhesive for archiving documents. It is quite flexible in that it can be used on various materials and still retain its adhesive quality. You can use it on wood, vinyl, paper, and even leather. PVA glue also dries up without leaving much of a visible trace.

What are the Uses of PVA Glue?

Let us go into further detail as to when using a PVA glue would be the best method. If you are still unsure whether to use PVA glue for a specific project, here is a list of the ways PVA glues are used to their full potential:

  • Making artwork and other crafts as it does not leave any stain or residue afterward.
  • As a wallpaper adhesive.
  • Closing envelopes.
  • For paper packing.
  • This is a perfect adhesive for bookbinding as the glue remains flexible even after drying.
  • A good choice for woodworkers as PVA works amazingly well with wood.

PVA Glue Comparison to Other Types of Glue

There are several PVA types of glue that are available in the market but each different in one way or another. Basically, PVA glue can be classified into 3 categories which are based on their water resistance capabilities. Some of the most well-known PVA glues in the market are Titebond III and Elmer’s Glue. Titebond III is yellow-based and is recommended for outdoor use.

Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue, 16-Ounces #1414
Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue (Image: Amazon)

Elmer’s glue needs no introduction as it is one of the most popular adhesives for crafts and school projects.

Elmer's Liquid School Glue, Washable, 1 Gallon, 2 Count - Great for Making Slime
Elmer’s Glue (Image: Amazon)

Type I and Type II PVA glues are in the water-resistant category. In fact, Type I is considered waterproof. Titebond II and Titebond III are two perfect examples in this category. They contain water as well as strands of polymers that help it better bond even when used under outdoor conditions.

Then we have Type III PVA glues that contain as much as 50% water. It usually takes about an hour for two surfaces to bond at 20% strength and takes around 24 hours to reach 100%. Besides their water-resistant capabilities, there are many factors that differentiate PVA Type’s I to III types of glue. All three types have a psi of around 3,500 to 4,000. All PVA glue types can also be washed clean using water.

Of course, there are some downsides that you need to consider when using PVA glues as well. Here are some of the drawbacks that are normally attributed to PVA glues:

  • When used with wooden material, both items must be clamped together for about half an hour.
  • It takes about a whole day for the curing time to complete.
  • Both the yellow and white PVA glue usually have a shelf life of three years.
  • The standard PVA glue at your local store are mostly not water-resistant and are not designed for outdoor use. You need to find Type I and Type II PVA glues for that.

Related Video

Here’s a quick clip from Salvage Hunters – one of my favorite shows. He does amazing wood restorations and wood glue is often one of the key components. Check out this fix. In this example, he’s using clear polyurethane glue (not quite as strong as PVA) but still shows the power of a good quality glue!


PVA glues have their advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the different types of PVA glues available in the market can help you avoid the downsides. Hopefully, this article has helped you in figuring out what type of PVA glue to use depending on your needs.