What is PVA Glue?

What is PVA (polyvinyl acetate)? It is a glue that offers no odor or color. It is a bonding agent that has no dangerous fumes.

It is clear and safe to use with your bare hands.

Because of the qualities of this glue, it is ideal for a variety of needs. 

“PVA is a colorless, usually nontoxic thermoplastic adhesive prepared by the polymerization of vinyl acetate. PVA is made up of a water-based emulsion of a widely used type of glue, referred to variously as wood glue, white glue, carpenter’s glue, school glue, or PVA glue.”  

Mechanical performance of Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)-based biocomposites, A. Kaboorani and B. Riedl, Biocomposites, 2015, Accessed 12/20/2021.

Different Types Of PVA Glue

A few characteristics of PVA glue are

  • PVA glue produces a clear glue
  • Produces a hard film with good weather resistance and can withstand water, grease, oil, and petroleum fuels.
  • Additional properties offered are that it has a high initial tack
  • Almost invisible bond line
  • It softens at 86 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Good biodegradation resistance
  • Poor resistance to creep under load
  • Affordable
  • Will deteriorate in wet conditions

PVA – Polyvinyl Acetate / White Glue

  • This is a vinyl polymer base that is used in a lot of adhesives
  • It is normally acid-free and usually a white color
  • It has a silky presentation 
  • It can be smoothly spread when applied with the right tools, usually brushes or crafting sponges.
  • It stays flexible after it has had time to dry
  • Has a neutral ph balance
  • Usually used binding books, making cards, or for various art and craft projects.

PVA – Wood Glue / Yellow PVA

  • This glue is an aliphatic resin glue
  • It is a non-toxic glue, but never eat it
  • Identified by a yellow color, it usually has a light yellow or amber tint when dry.
  • This glue is normally used for binding pieces of wood together
  • It absorbs into the wood
  • Spreads well when applied with the right tools
  • Recommended to clamp the wood together while drying, will weaken if the wood slips before dried.
  • While wet, wipe away any extra glue.

PVA – Water Resistant Glue

  • Aliphatic resin glue
  • Non-toxic, but never eat it
  • Type 1 – Waterproof
  • Type 2 – Water-resistant – Always read the label to make sure it meets your needs
  • Spreads smoothly and easily 
  • Resistant to mildew
  • Resistant to moisture but not waterproof
  • Used for items used outside
  • Color is usually yellow and, when dry, has a light yellow or amber color
  • While wet, you  can wipe the PVA glue away

Is Elmer’s Glue Made From PVA?

Elmer’s Glue is a milky white aqueous adhesive glue.

Elmer’s Glue comprises Polyvinyl acetate, Polyvinyl alcohol, and Propylene glycol. Elmer’s sold them in glass bottles. Now they are sold in plastic squeeze bottles with a twist-open dispenser lid.

They are often used in households, businesses, and schools. You can use it for various materials like wood, paper, and fabrics. 

Many types of white glues have a variety of additives like tackifiers, plasticizers, antifreeze solvents, and biocide preservatives.

Elmer’s Glue is usually grouped as unstable for long-term use because it has several additives. 

What is the difference between Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 PVA Glues?

Polyvinyl-acetate glues offer a variety of products: Elmer’s white glue and Titebond lll. Titebond lll is a yellow glue that is used for extreme outdoor conditions. 

PVA glues are classed into three categories. These class categories are based on their water resistance. 

Type-lll is not water-resistant PVA Glue. It is made up of about 50% water. It cures as the water evaporates. The drying process can take a long time. 

Anything glued must be clamped together until about 15% to 20% of their bond strength. This usually takes about an hour.

It can take about a day for the PVA glue to reach its full strength and be properly dry.

Type-l is waterproof, and Type-ll is a water-resistant PVA glue. 

PVA glue like Titebond ll and lll consist of water. They also have strands of polymers entangled and chemically bonded—these work best for exterior conditions. 

When using these PVA glues, you will need to clamp your materials when wet. These glues have a long open time. 

Open time is how much time is needed for the PVA glue to set.

They often bond efficiently in colder conditions. 

Besides water resistance, there is little difference in the strength of any material glued with PVA glue. 

All PVA glues can handle forces from 3500 psi to 4000 psi.

PVA glues can be wiped away when wet. You can also scrape away the extra glue once dry.

It is advisable to clean the glue away when it is still wet. 

The best uses for the PVA glue: 

Type l and ll – exterior trim, outdoor furniture

Type lll – cabinetry, interior woodwork, and trim

So What Is Clear PVA Glue?

PVA glue is often more flexible with a good pH balance. It is used explicitly for gluing paper and textile products. 

This will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

There is no hard and fast rule for this as a standard. Generally, you will need to obtain the datasheet for each product. 

You can gather this information from the manufacturer directly. Often you can find this information on the bottle. 

You can also find it on the insert paper if the PVA glue comes in a box. 

What is PVA Glue used for?

PVA glue works as an emulsion that can work as the best mixture for gluing porous materials. 

Some of these porous materials include paper, wood, and cloth. 

PVA glue can work as a consolidant for materials like sandstone. It works because the glue does not contain any solvents.

 PVA glues are not acidic like most polymers. 

They tend to be flexible and will create strong bonds. 

There are a variety of ways to use PVA glue.

  • Works as an adhesive to fabric, leather, and paper
  • PVA glue for bookbinding
  • Works for creating mosaic and paper mache
  • Works as a drywall primer
  • Works as a sawdust filler
  • Works as wallpaper glue
  • Works as a plaster sealant
  • Works as a non-waterproof varnish

Nontoxic PVA glue is sold at a low cost. It is great to have such a versatile glue be affordable for the average person. 

If you want glue similar to Elmer’s glue, then you can use wood glue. This type of glue is perfect for jobs that need heavier working glue. 

You can use nontoxic PVA glue for the following uses.

  • Fix broken pieces of wood
  • Glue screws and bolts in place
  • It can fix big pieces of wood for decorations

There are many benefits of using PVA glue. It does not hurt that it is so well priced.

  • Stays flexible
  • It does not break down.
  • It dries so it will not turn yellow with age.
  • StIt stays neutral and does not affect the pH balance of the paper
  • Nontoxic
  • Safe to use with your bare hands
  • It is an odorless glue
  • It does not emit any harmful fumes

There are a couple of uniques uses for PVA glue. Besides using the PVA glue for all of its conventional uses.

A few unique uses are

  • Remove a splinter from your skin.

By applying a layer of PVA glue at the entry point of your splinter, you create a suction.

Simply wait for the PVA glue to dry. Once the glue is dry, you can peel it off your skin.

The glue creates a suction over the hole and bonds to the splinter. When you pull the glue off, it pulls the splinter out with it.

  • Fill in any holes in your walls.

If you have nothing to fill holes or cracks in your walls, you can apply PVA glue. 

You can apply PVA glue as if it painted over holes and cracks. If the holes are too big, you can mix the PVA glue with tissues.

Tear the tissues up and make a mixture with the glue. Make sure to mix well.

  • Tidy up your shoelaces

Frayed shoelaces are something you want to fix as soon as possible. 

Twist the frayed parts of your shoelaces tightly with your hands. Dip them into PVA glue and wait to dry.

This will help keep the fibers together and protect them from further deterioration. 

  • Seal open wounds on your pruned plants

Open wounds on your plants can become infected with bacteria and various microorganisms. 

This often happens when you prune your plants. 

You can protect those vulnerable areas by applying a layer of PVA glue.

  • Removing of nail polish

One of the easiest ways to remove your nail polish is to use a PVA glue mixture. Who knew!

You can mix 1 part glue, and two parts nail polish in a container.

Mix the ingredients well.

Then apply a coat. You simply paint a layer of the mixture onto your nails. 

Once it is dry, you can just peel it off. It will take your original layer of nail polish off with it. 

  • A great way to create slime

Slime is a lot of fun for your children. This is a creative and easy way to keep them busy.

You can easily make it by mixing liquid starch with PVA glue and food coloring.

Advantages of PVA Glue

  • PVA glue does not give off strong fumes
  • You can work indoors or outdoors
  • You can easily wipe wet glue away with water
  • There are no harsh chemicals needed to clean up PVA glue
  • PVA glue dries clear unless specified
  • If you have used a yellow PVA glue, then it will dry with an amber tint
  • PVA glue is a lot more affordable than other glues

Disadvantages of PVA Glue

  • When you use PVA glue with wood or similar materials, you need to use clamps.
  • The wood or similar materials must be clamped or weighed down for the drying process.
  • There can be at least a minimum drying period of 30 minutes
  • The curing time can take up to 24 hours
  • Standard PVA glue is not water-resistant
  • Standard non-waterproof PVA glue is not meant for outdoor projects
  • Uses can vary, so always read the label
  • White and yellow PVA glue have limited shelf lives
  • The shelf life lasts about 1 to 3 years

What are popular brands of PVA glue?

  • Gamblin Poly Vinyl Acetate

Gamnlin Poly Vinyl Acetate is moisture resistant. It does not yellow once dry as it has a neutral pH balance. 

This PVA glue retains its flexibility for smooth and easy coverage.

  • Books by Hand pH Neutral PVA Adhesive

Books by Hand’s PVA glue is of professional quality. 

It is solvent-free and water-soluble. This means it is easy to clean up and offers a reversible cover.

Books by Hand pH Neutral PVA Adhesive is a pH neutral and acid-free solution that does not turn yellow over time. 

It is a perfect PVA glue for bookbinding and paper projects.

This PVA glue dries quickly and clear. 

  • Mont Marte PVA Craft Glue

The Mont Marte PVA Craft Glue is perfect for a classroom. It comes in packs of 3.

Each bottle is 10 ounces and offers a fine-tipped nozzle for precise application. It has a clear cap that helps prevent dry-out.

It is made out of acid-free, non-toxic materials. 

This PVA glue works well for a variety of materials. Some of these include wood, paper, foam board, and fabric. 

You can easily use this PVA glue to fill gaps and holes in canvases or wood. 

The Mont Marte PVA Craft glue dries clear and will not affect the appearance of your overall work.

  • Creative Expressions Cosmic Shimmer PVA Glue

Creative Expressions Cosmic Shimmer PVA Glue products actually shimmer. 

Each bottle includes 30 milliliters of shimmery glue. It can be used as a primer. 

The Creative Expressions PVA Glue can also be used as glue.

This PVA glue dries clear.

It is perfect for a variety of craft and art projects.

The bottle has a small tip that allows for precise application.

  • Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive

Lineco’s quality adhesive is perfect for a variety of projects. It works well for bookbinding and collaging.

It comes in a 1-quart bottle. This is perfect for large-scale work and lasts a long time. 

It is an acid-free solution. And it does not turn yellow over time. It dries quickly and permanently.

When the Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive PVA glue dries, it is clear with great lay-flat properties.

List of PVA Glues 

  • Elmer’s PVA Glue
  • Gorilla PVA Glue
  • Stormsure PVA Glue
  • Lineco PVA Glue
  • Books by Hand PVA Glue
  • Mont Marte PVA Glue
  • Mod Podge PVA GLue
  • Evo-Stik PVA Glue
  • Titebond PVA Glue
  • Pro Wood Glue PVA


PVA glues have their good and bad qualities. Understanding how they work will help you mitigate these. 

The right PVA glue is out there waiting for you. You just need to decide on your needs, and it will be easy to find the right glue.

PVA glue is a solid and reliable glue. 

Make sure to read the instruction label to know you have the right glue. 

Always ensure that you clean up after using your PVA glue. A neat work area goes a long way to making your PVA glue reach its full potential. 

Suppose you are unsure about using the PVA glue. Start a small project and gain some confidence. Once you are comfortable with how the PVA glue works, you can easily move on to bigger projects.

Have fun with whatever you get gluing. 

About the author

Jennifer is a stay-at-home Mom who loves everything DIY and crafting. She contributes to Just Use Glue in order to share her practical knowledge of how to glue all the things.

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