Construction Adhesive vs Wood Glue: Which Should You Use?

Construction adhesives and wood glues can sometimes be mistaken to be substitutable with one another. In hindsight, wood glues may sound like they are used exclusively on wood, but they could be used on other surfaces too. On the other hand, construction adhesives can also be applied on wood but not in every case.

Wood glue and construction adhesives are made up of completely different formulas. Both are essential for any toolbox whether you work professionally or not. The key is to understand which one to use and when. Here are the factors to consider in choosing the right adhesive for your project.

Types of Surfaces 

Wood glue is designed for joining two pieces of wood together. It may also work on other types of surfaces, but it will not always be as effective as bonding on wood and other porous materials for carpentry, crafts, and repair work.

On the other hand, construction adhesives are versatile and can be used to effectively bond porous and non-porous materials together. This includes glass, metal, rubber, and plastic. Although you can also find construction adhesive for wood specifically.

Wood glue works by soaking into the pores of the wood, forming a permanent bond with the wood. The remaining layer of glue in between the two wood surfaces acts merely as a bridge between the glue-soaked surfaces. This is a better choice when bonding materials such as wood compositions, veneer, cardboard, leather, and cork.

Hold Strength and Resistance

When it comes to bonding strength and resilience, both construction adhesives and wood glues are strong when dried and cured properly.

Construction adhesives, like the PL Premium Max and No More Nails Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive, are versatile and could work on indoor or outdoor projects. They are weather resistant and can withstand weather conditions. However, they are not applicable for marine, and water submersion applications, and areas of high heat.

Wood glues are also known to be even stronger than the materials they bond once fully dried and cured. The LePage Pro Carpenter’s Glue, for example, can form a bond with 2 tonnes of strength. There is also the Outdoor Weatherproof Wood Glue which has water and moisture resistance perfect for outdoor woodworking projects.


Most construction adhesives and wood glues have instant grabs and high initial tack. Construction adhesives usually have 15-20 minutes of repositioning time. Their initial cure time will take 24 hours and their full cure time can take up to 7 to 14 days.

Wood glues, on the other hand, usually have 10-25 minutes of clamping time but some special formulas could take 1-2 hours like Polyurethane Wood Glue. They have a shorter full cure time of 12-24 hours.

You could consider special formulas like PL Premium Fast Grab Construction Adhesive and the Express Quick Dry Wood Glue if you are looking for quick grab times for your project. But curing times would remain the same. It’s also important to note that temperature, humidity, moisture, and porosity of the surface can lengthen the full cure time.

Another key difference is the color of the adhesives when they dry. Wood glues usually have white or light-yellow colors but are sandable and paintable once fully dry. Some construction adhesives can dry invisible and translucent like the No More Nails Ultimate Crystal Clear. Most construction adhesives are paintable but not sandable. Make sure to check the product information before use.


Because of a much thicker consistency, construction adhesives for wood are used mostly in the types of woodworking joinery where shaped parts need to fit snugly together without a gap. 

Although PVAs (polyvinyl acetate, the most used type of wood glue) are still used to fill a gap, it is purely for cosmetic purposes, such as when sawdust is mixed into it to form a paste-like filler that matches the color of the wood.

Yes, wood glue can be used on multiple surfaces despite its obvious name. But these surfaces are rather limited when compared with construction adhesives. While wood glue works best for DIYs and arts and crafts, tasks that involve heavy-duty construction work such as joining concrete on concrete a job for construction glue. Construction adhesives can effectively fill small and large gaps while staying flexible. It works well if two surfaces are irregular compared to wood glue.

Find the Right Construction Adhesives and Wood Glue for your Project

If you need more information on the type of adhesive to use, LePage has a variety of Construction Adhesives and Wood Glue that are available in different formulas to fit your project needs. Combinations of bond strength, drying/curing time, weather/temperature resistance, and flexibility are available for your tasks big or small