What Are Glue Sticks, And What Types of Adhesive Do They Provide?

Glue sticks are essential to almost any craft project or school assignment. They provide a strong adhesive that can bond paper, wood, fabric, and other materials, depending on the type you are using. Glue sticks are available in different varieties, such as craft glue or school glue. With the right glue stick, you can ensure that your projects stay together for years.

What Is a Glue Stick?

glue stick being applied to paper
This is a glue stick being applied to paper.

The glue sticks we’re discussing today are plastic tubes containing a solid adhesive. Some glue sticks have liquid glue, as we’ll see later. When applied correctly, the glue creates a bond between two surfaces, typically paper. We are not talking about the glue sticks for hot glue guns. That’s for another article!

What Are the Benefits of Using a Glue Stick?

Glue sticks are a great way to fix, attach, and build things without the mess of traditional adhesives. They are easy to use and safe for kids, making them the perfect choice for school projects or any creative activity. With no-mess adhesive technology, glue sticks offer a convenient way to get things done quickly and efficiently. Plus, they come in different sizes and colors, so you can find one that suits your needs.

Comparing Different Types of Glue Sticks and Their Uses

Glue sticks are an excellent tool for crafting and scrapbooking projects. They are easy to use and come in various types, from washable glue sticks to repositionable to permanent ones. However, deciding which kind of glue stick is best for your project can be confusing with so many options. 

In addition, many companies use unique variations on basic ingredients to give their product different properties. For example, many kinds of glue sticks are available, but all contain the same essential ingredients.

In this article, we’ll compare the different types of glue sticks and their uses so you can make an informed decision when shopping for your next craft project. Here are the four main types of glue sticks and what they’re typically used for:

Washable Glue Sticks

These glues have been around since 1896 and can be found in schools nationwide. They are often recommended as “the” school glue because they’re cheap and easy to come by at your local office supply, grocery, or drug stores. These are the most versatile types of glue sticks on the market. They can be used for various craft projects and are easy to clean off little hands or your kitchen table. These washable glue sticks can be used to bond fabric and paper together. If you’re in a hurry, washable glue is great because it dries quickly due to its water-soluble properties. 

Repositionable Glue Sticks

Oh wow, repositionable glue sticks are my favorite for gluing down sticky notes that have lost their stick. I mean, I could rewrite the sticky note, but why do that when I have a repositionable glue stick!

Scrapbookers will use repositionable glue sticks to create a layout, and then, when they are happy with the results, they’ll use a more permanent glue or dry runner glue.

Permanent Glue Sticks

These are my glue stick of choice. When I want to glue something into an art journal or glue book or in a collage, I mean business. My favorite is Scotch Create. It’s very sticky and has just the right water content — which is what you want when you don’t want your paper to buckle.

Liquid Glue Sticks

Like the one Tombow makes, a liquid glue stick is handy because it has a fine tip on one end and a broad tip on the other. That broad tip can act just like a solid glue stick in terms of application. I generally save liquid glue sticks for attaching a decorative element on paper that won’t buckle easily.

Tips & Tricks on How to Use a Glue Stick Effectively

vintage Dennison glue sticks ad from 1979, featuring DC and Marvel comics characters
Even superheroes use glue sticks!

Glue sticks are a great way to quickly and easily apply adhesive to various surfaces. Glue sticks efficiently adhere materials from paper and cardboard to fabric, wood, and even plastic. But how do you use them effectively? Here are some tips and tricks on applying the adhesive for the best results. 

1. Make Sure the Glue Stick is in the Correct Position

Applying a glue stick perpendicular to and flat against the paper is always best. (insert photo here)

2. Wipe Dust and Debris Off Of the Workspace 

You can only effectively press a smooth, dry surface into adhesive if it’s free of debris such as dust, paper scraps, or other dirt particles that could interfere with your project later on. Once the area is wiped down, you’re ready to go! 

3. Apply Adhesive in Small Amounts

Apply a thin coat of glue to the entire back of the paper or fabric you are gluing. Ensure you get the whole surface, which will help the material stick over the entire area. Placing your paper face-down on a piece of scrap paper or a page of an old magazine helps keep the glue out of places it’s not wanted.

Pro tip: Avoid pressing down too hard with the glue stick. Too much pressure can cause bits of the glue stick to break off into little blobs of glue that will leave bumps under your paper.

While Zooming and crafting at the same time is fully supported by this writer, this is not how to apply a glue stick.

4. Burnish

Place the glue-backed material in place and press down, starting in the middle and gently working out toward the edges. 

Pro tip: An old credit card or gift card is great for carefully smoothing out bubbles and wrinkles.

5 Put the cap back on! Glue sticks can dry easily; leaving the cap off too long can mean wasting your glue.

What do you use your glue sticks for, Tracey?

I’m glad you asked! I use my glue sticks in collages, art journaling, gluing papers into my planner, and doing projects with my daughter, who is 9 (it makes the least mess!) 

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