How To Choose The Best Glues, Tapes & Adhesives For Your Project

How To Choose The Best Glues, Tapes & Adhesives For Your Project

With such a variety of glues and tapes available at Spotlight, how do you choose which is best for your craft project? Certain adhesives will work wonderfully on one surface and be almost completely ineffective on another, so we've created this guide to help you find the perfect glue or tape for your needs. You can find all sorts of glues and tapes here from many of your favourite brands - from Mod Podge Sealer and e6000 glue to Francheville Washi tape and UHU adhesives, we've got all the adhesives you need right here!

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Glue Guns - The Great All-Rounder

Hot glue guns are one of the most flexible adhesives on the market and can be used effectively on almost any surface, including metal, wood, cardboard and ceramic. Hot glue guns apply heat to solid sticks of plastic glue that you insert in the back of them, which melt to produce glue that hardens when it dries. Hot glue has a short drying time, allowing you to work quickly when you need to. When dry, the glue has some flexibility, depending on how much you've applied and the surface you've applied it to. Hot glue also has some weight to it, so if you use a significant amount on one project it will make the finished piece heavier. Hot glue guns will generally come with some refills when you buy them, and you can buy packets of additional refills when you run out.

How to use a hot glue gun

While each glue gun may work slightly differently, here are some general steps you can follow if it's your first time using a hot glue gun:

  1. Make sure your hot glue gun is clean, plugged in and has a glue stick inserted that is the correct size. Some glue guns have a stand - use this to keep it off your table surface while the gun warms up. You may like to have a drip mat in place under your project to catch any stray glue.
  2. Wear gloves when you start to use your hot glue gun! Press the trigger to start expelling the glue from the nozzle and use slow but consistent movements as you move the gun along your project. Stop squeezing the trigger when you no longer need glue and be wary of drips.
  3. The glue should be dry in around 20 minutes, but leave the project for half a day to ensure the bond is completely dry and cool. Turn off the gun, place it upright and unplug it while it cools and when it's not in use.

Now that you know how to use a hot glue gun, you can start adhering all sorts of things! Remember to be very careful when using hot glue guns. They are hot enough to melt plastic, so they are hot enough to burn your skin! Hot glue guns should not be operated by children.

Glues For Craft Construction And Repairs

If you are crafting a model for a school or personal project, using the right glue will ensure your project stays in one piece. But finding the best glue for crafting means sorting through a lot of contenders!

The classic PVA glue is all you will need for a school craft project, like ones made using card, paper or craft sticks. PVA glue is easy to apply with a brush or even a palette knife, and can be washed off with water if you get some on your skin. While it can be used to some effect with fabric, it's best to look for a specialised fabric glue if you are using it for dressmaking or repairs. How long does PVA glue take to dry when used in papercraft? The answer is as little as half an hour - but you may like to wait a day before moving your project to ensure the PVA glue has fully bonded to the paper.

You can also use a glue spray adhesive to apply a thin amount of glue over a large surface, such as a sheet of paper or card backing. It's particularly handy for mounting photographs to a sheet of backing paper. Glue spray adhesives are usually in aerosol cans, although you can also find them in pump-style bottles as well.

Epoxy glue is made up of two parts, a resin and a hardening agent. Applying both parts of the epoxy glue at the same time gives you a very powerful adhesive that is perfectly clear and permanent, making it a favourite for making jewellery, as it is also resistant to water and oil. Epoxy glue comes in two tubes, sometimes with both leading into a single application device. Otherwise, you will need to apply the resin and the hardener separately.

Finally, superglue is a very strong and quick-drying glue that creates a permanent bond between most materials - sometimes even your fingers and your craft materials! Superglue is very hard to remove, so be very careful not to get it on your skin or work surface. Superglue comes in small bottles with a fine-tip applicator, to ensure you don't make a mess with this extremely effective adhesive.

Decorative Glues

Most of the time you need your glue to do its job and then vanish from sight - but what about when the glue comes with its own colour or special visual effect? There are times when you want your glue to be a little decorative, and we've got some beautiful little glues that are perfect for the job.

Glitter glue comes in either fine-tip bottles or pen-style tubes, which is perfect because it is often used for writing with or creating decorative linework. Glitter glue doesn't have the adhesive strength of most craft glues, although it can be used to adhere light materials like paper and streamers - rather, use glitter glue to create borders on craft projects, write your name on a Christmas bauble or create beautifully sparkling shapes on a poster.

You can also find glue sticks that create a coloured glue that then dries clear. While their colour won't show up in the finished project, they're handy because you can see where glue has already been applied and you can make sure no spots have been missed.

Glues For Papercraft And Scrapbooking

Paper and scrapbooking glues need to be of a certain type, as very heavy or strong glues may damage and warp delicate sheets of paper.

PVA glue can be used to stick strong pieces of paper together, but what PVA glue is most used for is to make papier mache! Whether you're making a sculpture for a project or a homemade pinata, a mixture of PVA glue and water will allow you to shape your sheets of paper any way you want.

Mod Podge is a popular brand of craft glues that, like PVA glue, can be used to adhere paper together - but it shines when used as a sealer! This non-toxic, water-based glue can be used over the top of a finished papercraft project to create a firm, clear coating over the top that will 'seal' all your elements on the paper. You can choose from matte or gloss varieties.

Glue sticks are what you'll be using the most for papercraft and scrapbooking - they're easy to use, thanks to their twist-up design, and you can coat your paper in a thin layer of glue easily. It also doesn't dry straight away, giving you time to adjust things if you don't like how you've placed your elements the first time. They are best used for papercraft projects that don't require bonding, particularly heavy pieces of paper and cardboard, as the bond isn't super strong.

Glue dots are small, pressure-sensitive that you usually find on a sheet or roller applicator. You can choose from a range of strengths depending on the material you're working with, and are commonly used in scrapbooking because they're a quick and easy way to stick down decorations without any of the glue showing through or to the side of your elements.

Glues At A Quick Glance

Use With

Avoid With

Glue Sticks

Paper, card

Fabric, felt, wood, ceramic, plastic metal

Glue Dots

Paper, card, felt, fabric

Wood, ceramic, plastic metal

Spray Adhesive

Paper, card, fabric felt, wood, ceramic, plastic


PVA Glue

Paper, card, fabric, craft wood, felt, fabric

Ceramic, plastic, metal

Epoxy Glue

Wood, ceramic, plastic, metal

Paper, card, fabric, felt


All materials


Hot Glue Guns

Paper, card, fabric, felt, wood, ceramic, plastic


Craft Glues

Tapes For Craft Construction And Repair

Making crafts and conducting minor repairs can be done with tape, but make sure to choose a stronger tape if you are using it to hold together a larger craft piece.

Sticky tape is one of the must-have items in any household, and it works well for mending small tears in paper, holding light craft projects in one piece and wrapping gifts. Sticky tape can be gloss or matte - when you want the tape to be less visible, choose the matte version.

Double-sided tape is sticky on both sides and will either come in a special dispenser or have a paper backing on both sides you need to peel off. It is best used for projects where you don't want the tape to be visible, like in scrapbooking, and comes in various strengths - stronger double-sided tapes can be used with materials like ceramic and plastic.

Decorative Tapes For Papercraft And Scrapbooking

Masking tape is made from paper, which means it tears easily and can be drawn on or entirely coloured in using markers, pens and even paint. It has a light strength, so shouldn't be used for projects where a strong grip is needed, but it's handy for when you want to customise your tape visually. Masking tape is also used to section off areas when painting to keep them clean.

Washi tape is a masking tape that comes pre-decorated with colourful patterns - you can find everything from geometric prints to shiny metallic finishes in Washi tape! But what is Washi tape, and why do we love it so much? Washi tape is made from biodegradable plant material and has a lovely matte finish and soft feel. Like masking tape, Washi tape doesn't have great strength but is fantastic for use when decorating a scrapbook, card or poster project. Use Washi tape to stick down postcards, notes, photographs and cut-out shapes to show them off!

Tapes For Mounting And Display

Mounting tape has a layer of foam with a strong adhesive on each side, which means whatever it is used to stick down will appear to 'float' off the surface it is on. Mounting tape can be used to hang frames, clocks and wall art when you don't want to use screws or nails - choose a stronger mounting tape for heavier items. Use it in scrapbooking or card making to make the elements on your page flat with a 3D effect.

Florist tape is used for, you guessed it, floristry! It's a tape that, unlike all the others, isn't sticky - rather it is quite stretchy and sticks to itself when wound around something. It is often used to bind stems together to make bouquets, hence why this tape is usually green so it can blend in with the greenery. You can also use it to construct a corsage or headpiece.

Tapes At A Glance

Use With

Avoid With

Sticky Tape

Paper, card, thin ceramic

Thick cardboard, felt, plastic, wood

Double-sided Tape

Paper, card, cardboard, ceramic, plastic

Wood, felt

Masking Tape

Paper, card

Ceramic, wood, felt, plastic, cardboard

Washi Tape

Paper, card, cardboard (decorative)

Ceramic, wood, felt, plastic

Mounting Tape

Parer, card, wood, cardboard, plastic, felt


Floristry Tape

(Not sticky)


Glues & Tapes

Discover The Range Of Glues And Tapes At Spotlight Today

Craft with confidence using the range of glues and tapes from Spotlight! Choose your adhesive online, safely pay and we'll deliver them straight to your front door. Alternatively, visit your nearest Spotlight store and our team will help you choose the perfect tape or glue for your next project.

Want more crafting information? Read our other buying guides on paper and card, scissors and cutting tools and scrapbooking. And for more fun craft ideas and inspiration, check out our blogs on making a holiday scrapbook, DIY wedding ideas and everything you need to know about leather crafting.




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