What's a good glue?
April 22, 2005 3:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm attaching paper labels to cardboard boxes and I need a super-strength glue that bonds and holds, preferably one that sprays or brushes on. Have you ever tried to remove a label from a box and it just strips away fruitlessly into tiny pieces? Now we're talking. Where can I get glue like this?
posted by rolypolyman to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
I may be wrong with this, but I think that has more to do with the quality of the label.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:44 PM on April 22, 2005

Response by poster: The label is a piece of paper with no adhesive, which I'm running through my printer. I don't trust any of the off-the-shelf labels. I need a GLUE with which to affix this piece of paper.
posted by rolypolyman at 3:49 PM on April 22, 2005

I've used 3M spray adhesive called "Super 77". It's what you want. You can find it at a hardware store. Mind you, it's a PITA to work with: you've got to set up a spraying booth (a cardboard box will work OK) and it's really sticky, meaning that A) anything it touches is pretty much done for, and B) you get one shot at applying the sprayed label.

Tip: try weighting the corners of the label with coins or something. The spray can actually lift the paper, and that messes everything up.
posted by adamrice at 3:50 PM on April 22, 2005

Sorry rolypolyman, not what I meant...

I simply mean that the label, regardless of if it's self adhesive or not seems to play an important part in whether it comes of cleanly or in strips. Good luck.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:00 PM on April 22, 2005

White Elmers glue can be thinned with a little water and brushed on. Affordable and clean up is easy with water. It dries clear. Try it you'll probably like it.
posted by snowjoe at 4:04 PM on April 22, 2005

the 3M spray is a good bet. Contact cement might work well also. Generally you apply contact cement to both surfaces, allow to dry, and then put them together. It does Not Come Off. This is what is generally used to apply laminate to countertops.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:41 PM on April 22, 2005

Wheatpaste may be a bit overkill, but useful nonetheless.
posted by benightedly_heedful at 5:58 PM on April 22, 2005

3M Super 77 is insanely strong stuff. It lasts for days on skin, and lifetimes on everything else.
posted by cmyk at 7:19 PM on April 22, 2005

I would buy some of that paper that fish'n'chip places use...you know, it's made of kraft paper and one side has adhesive on it and they roll it over a wet brush, which activates the adhesive (like the old kind of stamps you had to lick).
posted by duck at 8:04 PM on April 22, 2005

That was called gummed paper and was used by people before the magic of sticky tape presented itself, duck. :) I recall an old roll of it sitting around in one of my elementary school classes.

I miss lickable stamps, too. If you worked at a post office, you could get away without bringing lunch (10 calories are in each stamp!)
posted by shepd at 10:11 PM on April 22, 2005

Go to your nearest art supply store. In the acrylic paint section, there should be a variety of brands of clear mediums. Matte Gel or Matte Medium are what you're looking for. (It also comes in regular and gloss, if you prefer). It will come in a variety of brands. For your purposes, the generic store brand is perfectly fine. It's acrylic polymer. It dries clear, brushes on and cleans up with soap and water. You can thin it out with water. Depending on how thickly you apply it, it'll dry in about a half hour or less (if you have that kind of time). It is totally permanent and you won't be able to remove the label without removing that section of box. Also, it's NON TOXIC!

If your local art supply store is a Pearl or Utrect, you can get that stuff in gallon buckets.

Be advised: If you're using an inkjet or laser printer, ANY WATER SOLUBLE ADHESIVE will LIFT AND BLUR the printed text! To avoid this, equip yourself with a can of Krylon Crystal Clear Spray and apply it to the homemade labels BEFORE gluing them down! Crystal Clear, also known generically as clear acrylic spray, is essentially the same thing as the Matte Medium. However, since it's a spray apply, you can fix the printed ink to the surface of your paper without blurring it. It dries in minutes. I would NOT recommend Crystal Clear as an adhesive. It has too many propellants and solvents in it to be effective. In order to put down a thick enough coat of it to adhere anything, you'd wind up intoxicating yourself with its fumes. Only ever use enough Crystal Clear spray to fix the ink.

Also: When using a brush on adhesive, remember to FIRST apply it to the mounting surface. Then apply the adhesive to the BACK of your label. Put the label on the adhesived surface and then brush or spray on top of it to seal it in.

Trust me on this. As a collage artist, I have to glue things all day, every day. This is by far the easiest and most permanent way to go.

For Future Reference: With the acrylic medium, you can glue just about anything to anything. Plastics, wood, paper, ceramics. It's not so good for metals and plastics, though. I also wouldn't recommend it for anything structural or load-bearing. It is plastic and flexible.
posted by Jon-o at 11:17 PM on April 22, 2005

If you're using an inkjet or laser printer, ANY WATER SOLUBLE ADHESIVE will LIFT AND BLUR the printed text!

I agree on the inkjet part, but laser printers should not be using water soluble ink! :-)

Toner is made of... carbon. Carbon and water don't mix. :-)

Usually the only way to remove toner is either through heat (which would cause it to spread, less than remove) or chemical reaction after is has been fused.
posted by shepd at 8:14 AM on April 23, 2005

Shepd, the toner technically shouldn't spread but it does. It fades and lifts, too. When brushing the acrylic adhesive, I noticed that my brush and the adhesive started to turn gray from the toner. I was surprised at first but after I started fixing the toner in the same way as the inkjet, that problem stopped.
It might not be the water as much as acrylic polymer binding to the toner. It also might be force of the brushing action. Maybe it was the result of a crappy Xerox machine.
Who knows?
Whatever the case, I'd still recommend fixing laser prints before affixing them.
posted by Jon-o at 8:42 AM on April 23, 2005

You have to be super careful to avoid inhaling any sort of spray on glue; my art teacher took half a class period telling horror stories of three of her friends and their various respratory ailments which they got from not being careful with spray on glue.

I don't remember what sorts of bad things her friends got exactly but it was enough to convince me that I'm never going to touch the stuff. I'd try everything else before I tried spray adhesives.
posted by the_W at 10:35 PM on April 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

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