What is PVA Glue?

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what is a pva glue

If you work with wood, paper, boxes, and everything in between, chances are that you have had to glue these things together and seal them.

You might think that there are no many options out there when it comes to glue, but this is definitely not so.

When you go to seal or glue together various pieces of wood, and other such materials, you can’t use your average stick or white glue that you would have used back in elementary school for arts and crafts.

However, this is why PVA glue was invented. It is very useful, as it contains a special blend of ingredients, with one main active ingredient which makes the ideal choice for both exterior and interior woodworking projects.

Let’s take a closer look at PVA glue, what it is, and what it is used for.

What Is PVA Glue?

What is PVA Glue

Make no mistake about it, this is not the average glue that you would use in school for arts and crafts.

PVA glue is a very special type of glue that is designed to be better, faster drying, stronger, and much longer-lasting than your average bottle of Elmer’s school glue.

PVA stands for polyvinyl acetate, and this is a specific type of aliphatic resin.

Polyvinyl acetate is a water-based resin and it is used as the active ingredient in wood glue, also known as carpenter’s glue.

One of the reasons why PVA glue has become so popular is due to the fact that it is non-toxic, and is therefore used in a wide variety of applications, especially when it comes to sealing paper, timber, boxes, and more.

There are two main types of PVA glue: white PVA and yellow PVA glue.

The yellow variety of this glue tends to be fairly pricey, which is why many people will avoid it.

The white PVA glue is much more affordable and is therefore usually the main choice for interior works of all sorts.

However, what does need to be kept in mind here is that the white PVA glue will get weaker over time if exposed to moisture.

This is a problem which the yellow PVA glue does not suffer from, therefore making it the go-to choice for exterior woodworking projects, and other wood related sealing projects.

What to Look for When Buying PVA Glue

buying pva glue

Before you go out and buy just any PVA glue for woodworking or similar projects, there are some things that you should look for.

If you are doing DIY or woodworking projects professionally, or anything in between, you want to find the best PVA glue for the job.

So, what do you need to look for when buying PVA glue?

Compare the types

Something you need to do before you buy any PVA glue is to compare the different types which are available.

This is going to make a big difference in terms of how well it works for the job at hand.

There are 3 major types of PVA glue:

Normal PVA glue

The first is your normal PVA glue, which is easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and is the best option around for paper sealing.

It is most often used for binding books, gluing paper together, and for wallpapering. It is white in color and dries very fast.

Polyvinyl Acetate Wood Glue

The second type is polyvinyl acetate wood glue, and as you can probably tell by the name, it is used for woodworking projects – when you need to glue pieces of wood together.

It absorbs into the wood very well, therefore creating a really good bond between various pieces of wood.

PVA Water-Resistant Glue

The final major type of PVA glue is PVA water-resistant glue, and as you can tell by the name of it, it is best used for exterior wood joinery, as it is very resistant to water and harsh weather conditions, but don’t mistake this for being 100% waterproof.

Know what you need it for

Now that you know what the different types of PVA glue are, you now need to consider the job you are planning to complete with them.

Once you figure out your needs, you can then choose the type of PVA glue that is going to work best for you.

Pricing and third-party reviews

Of course, you also want to look at the price of the PVA glue in question. There are some pretty major price differences when it comes to this glue.

If you are just sealing up some paper and boxes, using a cheaper PVA glue, such as basic white PVA glue is going to do just fine.

However, if you are doing a woodworking project, especially for exterior purposes, you are going to want to spend extra on the yellow water-resistant PVA glue.

On that same note, the brand name can also make a difference between one glue and the next, so it is always wise to read reviews and see what other people have to say.

Who knows, you might have two types of glue, one which is more expensive than the other, but has worse reviews than the cheaper one.

You want to know what other people have to say before you get started here.

The Main Benefits of PVA Glue

glue benefits

PVA glue really is quite special, and it comes with quite a few benefits that you may never have considered. These benefits are quite diverse in variety and type.

Simply put, there is a good reason as to why people who join paper, boxes, or have to join wood with glue will use PVA glue, rather than any other type. So, what are the main benefits of PVA glue?

PVA glue does not turn yellow over time

If you have used other glues before, you have probably noticed that they yellow over time.

Due to exposure to sunlight, moisture, and other elements, many types of glue that start out being white, will then turn yellow over time.

This can be a big drawback in terms of aesthetics; nobody wants their art project or wood joinery to have discolored and yellow glue visible.

This is a big benefit of PVA glue, as it will not turn yellow over time, therefore preserving beautiful aesthetics in a variety of projects.

PVA glue remains flexible after it dries

Another problem which many other types of glue suffer from is that they become rigid and inflexible as soon as they dry.

Depending on the project you are working on, this can be a problem.

Sometimes things need to be able to move and flex a bit because if a pressure of any kind is applied, and the glue cannot flex at all, it will break and the two pieces will come apart.

This is another major benefit of PVA glue, as it remains fairly flexible over time, and therefore allowing some pressure to be applied, and some movement to occur, without automatically breaking, snapping, and coming apart.

PVA glue is non-toxic – for the most part

non-toxic glue

If you have used other glues before, you probably know that most of them are toxic.

Now, we are not talking about eating and ingesting the glue, as even most kinds of PVA glue is toxic when eaten, at least to a certain extent.

However, there are many types of glue that can be absorbed through the skin and are toxic in this way. On that same note, many types of glue release toxic fumes that can also be harmful when breathed in.

Either way, most types of glue out there, besides low-grade non-toxic Elmer’s School Glue, should not be handled without a mask or gloves.

This is not the case with PVA glue, as it is perfectly safe to handle with your bare hands, it does not give off noxious fumes, and is non-toxic overall.

Beware that PVA glue is still toxic when eaten, so it should still not be ingested.

On a side note, even if the fumes were not poisonous, many types of glue give off fumes that can cause headaches, and at the very least, really stink up a room, and even cause projects to smell bad.

This is something that PVA glue does not do.

It does not break down over time

Yet another benefit of PVA glue is that it really does not break down over time, at least not nearly as fast as other types of glue.

This is something that comes in handy when you are woodworking and doing projects for outdoor purposes.

Most types of glue will suffer from problems with mildew, heat and cold can easily break them down, as can moisture and bad weather in general.

Even time alone will cause most types of glue to break down. However, this is not the case with PVA glue.

If applied right, and if it is a high-quality PVA glue, hot and cold, time, weather, and everything in between should not cause it to break down.

PVA glue is not invincible, indestructible, or everlasting, but when it comes to how long it can last, it is absolutely the prime choice over many other types.

It dries clear

Yet another benefit that comes from using PVA glue is that it helps to preserve the aesthetic qualities of whatever project you are working on.

PVA glue may look yellow, or at least certain types do, but in the end, it will dry clear.

This makes it a go-to choice for many woodworkers and people who do arts and crafts. Simply put, nobody wants to use glue for a project that is going to dry yellow.

It certainly would not look very nice, which is why clear-drying PVA glue is a go-to choice for all kinds of projects that require gluing.

PVA glue does not affect pH balance

When it comes to sealing boxes and paper, PVA glue also comes with the benefit that it does not affect the pH balance of paper or boxes.

There are certain types of glue that will adversely affect pH balance, and this can cause a weakening or degradation of the materials being glued together.

At the very least, it will cause changes in the colors of the items being glued together. This is a problem that PVA glue does not suffer from.

PVA glue is ideal for joining wood

The other main benefit of PVA glue is that it is great for gluing wood together.

Normal glue will simply sit on the surface of the wood and really does not do the best job at joining.

However, good PVA glue absorbs into the wood and therefore does a much better job at joining the pieces together than any other type of glue.

As you can see, PVA glue comes with many benefits for woodworking projects, boxes, and paper sealing too.

It’s one of the best options out there.

**Looking for something to attach plastic? Check out our detailed best glue for plastic guide here!**

The Most Important PVA Glue Tips

Important PVA Glue Tips

PVA glue is a really great innovation. If you do not know what it is, PVA stands for polyvinyl acetate.

It is a special kind of resin that has been added to glue, and it comes with many benefits.

PVA glue is most often used for wood joining and paper sealing because it has various benefits which make it ideal for these tasks.

However, using PVA glue is not 100% foolproof, and does take some knowledge to use properly.

This is what we are here for today, to provide you with some PVA glue tips so you can get the best results possible.

PVA glue really is a godsend when it comes to woodworking projects, wood joining, paper sealing, and boxing too.

However, PVA glue is not 100% perfect and this means that you do have to use it in a certain way to get the most out of it.

Although PVA glue is great, there are still a variety of tips that you want to follow to make it work for you as well as possible.

So, let’s go over the most important PVA glue tips that you need to follow right now!

Works best on Non-Porous materials

When you are using PVA glue, especially with wood, it works best on porous materials.

PVA glue is great for joining wood because it can somewhat absorb into each piece of wood it touches.

Therefore, when you use PVA glue for wood joining, there is a really solid and good bond formed. However, this is not always the case.

When using PVA wood glue, you always want to make sure that the wood you are joining is just slightly porous.

Works best on rough/uneven surfaces

The glue has a better chance of creating a strong bond if there is a certain level of porosity on each surface, as it can really get into all of those little cracks and uneven surfaces.

Simply put, PVA wood glue will work better if there is a bit of an uneven surface to cling onto.

So, when using PVA glue to join wood, try to make sure that you don’t sand down the wood first, at least not too much, and definitely do not try to use PVA wood glue over already-treated wood, such as wood that has been treated with a waterproof coating.

Do the cleanup while it’s still wet

The next tip that you should beware of when it comes to PVA glue, is that it does clean up fairly well with warm water and some strong soap.

Now, if the glue is already dry, chances are that you won’t be able to get it off easily.

However, if it is still wet, some warm water and soap will do a great job at removing it, especially from your skin.

Normal PVA glue is not particularly water-resistant, so if you need to remove dried PVA glue from a surface, hot water and very strong soap might work, but not always.

There is, of course, water-resistant PVA glue out there, which will be nearly impossible to remove once dried; in other words, make sure you apply it to the right places before it dries.

Use Clamps

Use a clamp to join the pieces of wood together as the glue is drying.

PVA glue works best when there is even pressure applied from each side, such as if you have the two pieces of wood clamped together in a vice or clamp.

This pressure helps the glue absorb into the wood and to form a tight and solid seal that is not going to come apart.

Works best in cool/climate-controlled spaces

It sets the best in a cool and air-conditioned room.

PVA glue will still set in a warm and humid environment with no air movement.

However, it will take a fairly long time to dry and fully set, and the bond it creates will not be as strong as it could otherwise be.

When using PVA wood glue, you should always ensure that you are in a space that is air-conditioned, fairly cool, dry, and has some air movement.

The drier the air, the cooler it is, and the more air movement there is, the better the PVA glue will set to create the best and strongest bond possible.

PVA Glue is not waterproof or water-resistant

PVA glue is not waterproof, or even water-resistant. Normal white PVA glue should only be used for paper sealing, box sealing, envelopes, wallpapering, and arts and crafts.

However, there is yellow PVA glue out there, specifically water-resistant PVA glue, which does better with moisture.

Keep in mind that even this is not 100% waterproof, but it does a better job of standing up to moisture than normal PVA glue.

White PVA Glue has a longer shelf life than Yellow

PVA glue has a bit of a longer shelf life than the yellow PVA glue.

So if you have some lying around, make sure to look at the label and confirm that the glue in question has not yet expired.

Know your types

There are 3 major types, these being PVA, PVA wood glue, and PVA water-resistant glue.

Make sure to know the differences so you don’t use the wrong one – check below for our guide to the different types of PVA Glue.

There you have it, the most important PVA glue tips that we can give you. If you follow these tips, you should have no problems when using PVA glue.

The 3 Types of PVA Glue

Types of PVA Glue

If you have ever used any kind of glue before, you know that your average glue is not the best around.

When you were back in school, do you remember using those glue sticks, white liquid glue, or maybe even glue from a hot glue gun?

Those work fine for basic arts and crafts in school, but beyond those things, your average white, stick, or hot glue is just not that good.

This is why polyvinyl acetate into glue was created, what we now know to be polyvinyl acetate glue or PVA glue for short.

This is a great type of glue that has many different applications due to a multitude of benefits that comes with it.

However, when it comes to PVA glue, there are actually 3 different types. The 3 types of PVA glue are what are here to differentiate and discuss right now.

PVA – Polyvinyl Acetate Glue

The first kind of PVA glue is your normal PVA glue.

This glue is white in color, and it dries clear. Because normal PVA glue dries clear, it is often used for a variety of paper- and box-sealing purposes.

It is also used as an adhesive for envelopes. The main purpose of PVA glue is for paper and box sealing but has also been used for similar purposes.

One of its big benefits is that it remains flexible after drying, which is a benefit that makes it ideal for envelopes and other such things.

Moreover, it is non-toxic and does not release harmful or noxious chemicals, therefore making it much safer to use than other glues.

This is also why it is used for wallpapering because when you put wallpaper up, you definitely do not want to be standing a room full of noxious fumes.

There is also the fact that it does not turn yellow over time, something which can put a real damper on your wallpaper or arts and crafts projects. Nobody wants a glue that is going to turn yellow over time.

PVA Wood Glue

PVA Wood Glue

The second type of PVA glue is PVA wood glue. As you can probably tell by its name, the PVA wood glue is for woodworking and carpentry projects.

One of the main benefits and reasons why PVA wood glue is used for joining wood is because it does a great job of adhering to and absorbing into porous surfaces like wood.

Therefore, it creates a much better seal and bond than most other glues could ever hope to achieve.

On that same note, PVA wood glue also does not break down over time like other glues do, therefore making it ideal for woodworking projects that are intended to last.

Moreover, since it does not turn yellow over time, it also helps to preserve the aesthetic qualities of whatever it has been used on.

Finally, another benefit of PVA wood glue is that it also remains slightly flexible over time.

Thus, it allows the wood to be joined together so that a bit of pressure can be applied, and minimal movement can take place, or in other words, wood pieces won’t snap apart due to just a bit of pressure being applied to them.

PVA Water Resistant Glue

The third and final main type of PVA glue out there is PVA water-resistant glue.

This is the most expensive and hardest to find a variety of PVA glue, but for all intents and purposes, it is also the best kind to use for most projects.

As you can probably tell by the name of it, it is water-resistant.

Therefore, it is most often used for woodworking and wood joining projects where the final workpiece is intended to be placed outdoors.

Water-resistant PVA wood glue has an unparalleled ability to resist moisture and harsh weather conditions, therefore making it more than ideal for outdoor use.

Of course, it also comes with all of the other benefits of the two other types of PVA glue we have talked about so far.

It may be the most expensive kind to go with, but if you are doing wood joining with the end goal of having the project outside, you absolutely need to use this kind of PVA.

What Is PVA Glue Used For?

PVA glue uses

There are many different types of glue out there.

You are probably familiar with the glue sticks that you used back in elementary school for arts and crafts, as well as that slimy white Elmer’s glue. Perhaps you have even used a hot glue gun before as well.

However, there are other types of glue, some more expensive and specialized types of glue.

One of these special types is PVA glue, otherwise known as polyvinyl acetate glue, and it comes with a list of benefits that make it ideal for various projects.

So, why would you buy PVA glue, and what is it used for? We are here to answer your questions about it.

Main Uses of PVA Glue

PVA glue is a special type of glue, and it comes with a list of benefits that make it worth using for a variety of projects.

PVA glue is used for a wide variety of projects and purposes due to its various benefits.

So, what is PVA glue used for, and why is it ideal for these uses?

Woodworking and wood joining

One of the biggest and most widespread uses for PVA glue is in the world of woodworking and wood joining.

PVA glue has various properties which makes it ideal for joining wood together, better than many other types of glue out there.

For one, it dries clear, which means that it won’t ruin the look of a completed project.

What is also true is that if you are looking to preserve aesthetic qualities, PVA glue is also ideal for woodworking because it does not turn yellow over time.

There is also the fact that PVA glue does not break down due to various elements like other glues do, and therefore, when you join wood together with PVA glue, it stays that way until you decide to rip it apart, something which is not easily done.

On that same note, PVA glue remains quite flexible, even long after it has dried, which means that wood which is joined together with PVA glue, can handle some pressure and flexing without coming apart.

Finally, the right kind of PVA glue can also absorb into the wood to a certain degree before it dries, thus forming a really tight and secure bond that other glues just cannot create.

On that same note, there are special types of PVA glue which are highly resistant to water and the elements, thus making it ideal for joining pieces of wood that are to remain outdoors.


book binding

Another primary use for PVA glue is to bind books and similar things. The reason for this is because PVA glue, for one, is non-toxic (unless ingested).

This means that you can handle a book that has been bound with PVA glue without fear of absorbing dangerous toxins through your skin.

Moreover, PVA glue will also not affect the pH balance of the paper, therefore helping to preserve its integrity and color.

PVA glue is also more or less odorless, which is great because you won’t be able to smell the strong smell of glue when reading your favorite book.

Paper adhesive

PVA glue is also often used as a simple paper adhesive.

It might be a bit too expensive to use for schoolwork or for simple paper glue, but there is much-specialized paper adhesives purpose for which PVA glue can be used.

Envelope adhesive

The glue which is on envelopes is likely to be a PVA glue. Once again, PVA glue is flexible when dry, so an envelope can remain fairly flexible, thus protecting it during shipping and mailing. Moreover, the PVA glue, when only licked to get it wet, is not toxic.

Older envelope glues were actually toxic, and when too many were licked, have actually resulted in serious illness.

This is not a problem any more thanks to the fact that PVA glue is now used as an envelope adhesive.

Because PVA glue is odor-free, does not affect the pH level of the paper, and dries clear, it is used for envelopes.

Wallpaper adhesive

Another use for PVA glue is for gluing the wallpaper to walls.

Once again, because it dries clear and does not turn yellow over time, it is great for wallpaper gluing.

You don’t want to be using glue that turns yellow over time for wallpaper, as that yellow color will eventually come through and ruin the look of any wall.

Moreover, when you are applying wallpaper, you do not want to be using glue that gives off toxic fumes, smells horrible, and is poisonous to the touch. For these reasons, PVA glue is a prime choice for wallpaper.

Arts and crafts

Arts and crafts

Now, this might not be the case for your basic arts and crafts projects in elementary school.

However, there are lots of professional artists and crafters who use this adhesive either for a hobby or even for a living too.

No matter which arts and crafts you are making, you cannot use glue that turns yellow over time and is inflexible.

Your projects would certainly not end up looking very good, or smelling very good for that matter.

Repair jobs

Finally, PVA glue is used for all kinds of repair jobs related to wood. If a piece of wood snaps or something comes apart, PVA glue can be used to put it all back together.

As you can see, PVA glue has many different uses. It doesn’t turn yellow over time, it dries clear, it is not toxic, doesn’t give off fumes, it is great for joining wood, it doesn’t break down over time, and so much more.

For these reasons, PVA glue can be used for a wide variety of jobs where other glue just wouldn’t work.


The bottom line here is that PVA glue is a really great innovation that comes in handy in many fields of work.

Whether it comes to boxing, sealing paper, joining wood, and even for extensive arts and crafts, you really won’t find much better than PVA glue.

Just remember that there are different types of these glues, so be sure to choose the one that is intended for the project you are working on.

The 3 main types of PVA glue, while all being fairly similar in nature, do have minor differences in ingredients and composition, thus making each of them ideal for slightly different jobs.

PVA glue is best used for paper and box sealing, as well as for arts and crafts.

PVA wood glue is best used for joining pieces of wood in various carpentry projects, specifically for projects that are to remain indoors.

Finally, PVA water-resistant glue is best used for joining wood that is meant to be outside, as it is water-resistant and therefore ideal for outdoor use.

Before you go out and buy any kind of PVA glue, consider what job you are looking to perform and what you want to achieve.

You don’t want to end up buying the wrong PVA glue for the job at hand.

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