Best School Glues

Updated May 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
125 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best school glues

If kids can look at a cardboard box and see a rocket, a race car, or a secret fort, just imagine what they can do with a pile of construction paper that has all the colors of the rainbow. The doorway to a universe of creativity can be opened with just a few essentials, such as the aforementioned construction paper along with cardboard, felt, crayons, safety scissors, an imagination, and the all-important glue.

However, not all glue is the same. If your kids are doing crafts, you will most likely want polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue, which is also called school glue. This is a safe non-toxic glue that is used to hold together a variety of common craft materials.

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School glue must be stored in a temperature-controlled space because once it freezes, it will no longer work.

Key considerations

What is school glue?

If you’re buying glue, you’ll want to make sure the product you’re considering is the right one for your needs. Glue is specific to the type of material it is bonding. For instance, glue that works on styrofoam, a porous material, would likely not work on glass, a non-porous material.

School glue is also called white glue or craft glue. The technical name for school glue is PVA glue. PVA glue is best for materials such as fabric, paper, plastic, organic items, and styrofoam. It is important to understand that PVA glue with a yellow tint or color is specifically designed to be used on wood.

PVA glue is manufactured by the polymerization of vinyl alcohol. This means it will be suitable for use on porous materials and that it is water-soluble, non-acidic, and non-toxic. When it dries, school glue is clear and somewhat flexible, making it ideal for crafts.

Suitable materials

While all school glues have a similar formula, some may actually work on a slightly larger (or smaller) variety of materials. You can check the label to make certain the glue you are considering is formulated to work on the materials you want to glue.

Solid or liquid

School glue comes in two forms: solid (glue stick) and liquid. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Solid glue is neater, but it might not hold materials together well. Liquid glue holds materials together well and is more readily adaptable to a wider variety of situations, but it can be very messy.

Tackiness

Some liquid school glues are thin and watery while others are thicker in texture. Thinner glue provides more even coverage (less chance for bubbles), but thicker, tackier glue allows items to stay in place a little better while it is drying.

Dyk1
Did You Know?
School glue has a maximum recommended shelf life of two years.
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Features

Color

School glue typically dries clear. However, if you would like to add a little pizzazz, you can purchase school glue in a variety of colors so it can be used like textured paint.

Glitter

Color is not the only fun additive that school glue may contain. Some manufacturers add glitter to their glue so your craft will have extra sparkle.

Glow

If color and glitter aren't enough magic, you can also find school glues that glow in the dark.

Quantity

How much glue do you need? If it's just a small project, look for a 4-ounce bottle or a single glue stick. If you need more, look for an 8-ounce or larger bottle of glue. If you anticipate needing a great deal of school glue, you can even get it in gallon containers.

Multi-pack

An alternative to purchasing school glue in a gallon jug is purchasing it in bulk. You can get glue sticks or glue bottles in packs ranging from three or four to as much as 30 (or more). This is the best option if you are an instructor with a number of students who will be needing glue.

Dyk2
Did You Know?
School glue is one of the primary ingredients needed to make homemade slime.
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School glue prices

Inexpensive: If you only need a little bit of glue, you can purchase a 4-ounce container for roughly $2 to $4. Some brands may cost a little more while others cost a little less. A single glue stick typically falls in the inexpensive price range.

Mid-range: If you plan on using a lot of glue, you can save money by purchasing a gallon jug for $15 to $25. In this price range, you will also find specialized school glues with additives such as glitter or color. You can also get a multi-pack of smaller bottles or glue sticks (anywhere from three to six) in this price range.

High-end: If you need to purchase school glue for a class of children, buying in bulk may cost you $60 or $80, but it could reduce the price-per-bottle by up to $2.

school glue
Did You Know?
School glue can be broken down by algae, lichens, bacteria, and yeast. It is not considered to be a hazard to the environment.
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Tips

If you think all it takes to glue two items together is to squeeze out a glob or smear some paste around, you are correct. However, while that approach may get the job done, it may also cause a great deal of mess and frustration — especially if a child is doing the gluing. Following are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when using glue.

  • Read the label. Make sure the glue you have is appropriate for the materials you want to glue together.
  • Apply evenly. Glue can only hold where there is coverage. Make sure you apply the glue evenly across the surface of the materials you wish to glue together.
  • Use a paint brush. It can be hard (and messy) to apply glue evenly. One trick is to use a paint brush to get the job done.
  • Apply sparingly. While you want the glue spread evenly, excess glue will not only squeeze out and make a mess, it will take longer to dry.
  • Clean immediately. If you use too much glue and it oozes out (it happens to all of us), the best time to clean up the mess is while the glue is still wet.
  • Roughen the surfaces. If you’re having trouble gluing two smooth surfaces together, sandpaper might be all it takes to roughen up those surfaces so the glue adheres.
  • Keep fingers clean. If you get a drop of glue on your fingers, it is best to pause your task and wash your hands. If you have glue on your fingers and keep working, it's like walking through the house in a pair of muddy shoes: the glue will get everywhere.
  • Get creative. Most of the time, you want glue to remain hidden. However, there may be times when you want to make it the star of your art project by mixing it with paint or glitter.
  • Keep the lid closed. Air makes glue harden. When you are not using your glue, close the lid so air doesn't get in the container.
  • Wipe the tip clean. Don't let the tip of your glue container build up glue. Wipe it clean every so often, so it doesn't harden and seal your glue inside.
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All school glues are water-soluble, non-acidic, and non-toxic. A glue that fails to encompass all three of these traits is not school glue.

FAQ

Q. What makes glue stick?

A. Believe it or not, the answer to this question still puzzles scientists. They do somewhat understand how adhesive and cohesive forces work on a molecular level, but those technical explanations go far beyond the scope of this article. To keep it simple, we'll "stick" to the most basic explanation. Some glues seep into the porous surface of a material. As the glue hardens. it locks into place, holding tight to that surface. If you sandwich glue between two porous surfaces, as the glue dries, it will hold the two materials together — think of peanut butter that is placed between two pieces of bread.

Q. Why doesn't glue stick to the tube?

A. This apparent miracle can happen in a number of ways. The most common is to add a solvent to the glue that prevents it from hardening while in the container. As soon as the glue is exposed to air, the solvent starts to evaporate (or is absorbed by the materials you are gluing) so the glue can harden. Often, what people think is the smell of glue isn't actually the glue at all. It is the solvent evaporating into the air. That is why most glues do not have a smell after they have dried; all the solvent is gone.

Q. How do I remove school glue that has dried onto my child's clothing?

A. If your child comes home from school with dried glue on their clothing, soak the garment in lukewarm water for a day. Then, try gently scraping off the loosened glue with a spoon. Or, if you prefer, you can toss the garment into the washing machine and wash it according to the fabric care label.

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