PVA glue: The carpenter’s choice for strong bonds

If you want to tackle woodworking projects, you need be familiar with PVA glue. It is the wood adhesive preferred by many professionals. Get the details below.

What is PVA glue and what is it used for? 

PVA glue stands for polyvinyl acetate, which is one of the most common types of glue for household use. It comes in various formulas, including the typical white glue you may have in your closet. 

The woodworking variety, commonly called woodworking glue, is usually a light-yellow colour and is based on a different formula called aliphatic resin. It is also a PVA adhesive.

Carpenters and cabinetmakers generally prefer PVA glue over other types of wood glue, such as hide glue (made from animal products), epoxy, and polyurethane. PVA glue is easier to use than hide glue or epoxy, both of which require mixing. It dries fast, is odourless, doesn’t make a mess, and forms a strong bond. It’s also inexpensive, whereas some of the other wood adhesives can get pricey.

When properly prepared, the bond formed with PVA glue between two pieces of wood is actually stronger than the wood. Once applied to a porous wood surface, the PVA glue sinks into the wood fibres. When it dries, the strength of the wood and the glue combine to create a “stronger-than-wood” bond.

When you glue wood together, apply the adhesive to both surfaces for a strong bond

How to use PVA wood glue for woodworking

When you are ready to join two pieces of wood, follow these steps to create a strong joint with the help of PVA glue.

  1. Test fit the parts to ensure a tight fit.
  2. Apply PVA glue to both surfaces. Your goal is a thin, even coat along the entire joint. Apply a line of glue from the squeeze bottle, then spread it out with a brush or plastic spreader.
  3. Press the pieces together with a slight back-and-forth motion to create a good bond and force out any air pockets.
  4. If you are also using nails or screws, apply them now to hold the pieces together.
  5. Use a clamp to keep the pieces from shifting. This is especially necessary if you’re not using other fasteners. Many types of clamps are available for various situations including C clamps for holding two boards together tightly, bar clamps for longer spans, and even clamps that will hold two pieces at a 90° angle. Do some research beforehand to choose the best ones for your needs.
  6. Wipe away any excess glue before it dries.
  7. Allow the pieces to fully dry before use. (If any excess glue shows after removing the clamps, sand it away with some sandpaper.)

PVA wood glue is also an excellent repair adhesive. Rejoin broken parts and strengthen splitting wood by working PVA glue into the fibres, clamping, and allowing the piece to dry. Sand and paint or refinish the surface once the adhesive is dry.

If you are doing a project such as a wood countertop or wooden bowls, some extra research is required to choose the best glue. You will need to use a food-safe wood glue, as some types of PVA glue are food safe and some are not. Check the manufacturer’s specifications.

LePage wood glue: Many options for various needs 

LePage has an extensive line of woodworking adhesives to fit almost any need. Here are three of our most popular PVA adhesives designed to achieve superior results on your woodworking projects.

We recommend LePage Pro Carpenter’s Glue for professional-quality results on your carpentry projects, cabinetry, and furniture. This formula has exceptional wet tack, meaning it grips faster to prevent slippage while clamping the parts together. It also offers a durable, humidity-resistant bond and dries to a translucent yellow. Once dry, it can be sanded and painted.

You can use clamps to hold the wooden parts in place until the wood glue has dried

If you require a more general-purpose wood glue, try LePage Multi-Purpose White Glue. A non-toxic, highly versatile woodworking adhesive that is perfect for high-strength bonds on wood, veneer materials, cardboard, fabrics, and cork. It dries translucent white and is also sandable and paintable.

In need of an outdoor-rated wood adhesive? Our Outdoor Weatherproof Wood Glue will fit the bill. This high-performance PVA adhesive will withstand occasional exposure to the elements and can be finished with a protective coating for permanent outdoor use.