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The 7 Best Ways To Glue Cardboard

The best way to glue cardboard is to use a glue with a fast and strong hold on cardboard, such as tacky glue, contact cement, or hot glue. Superglue and epoxy glue are also good options for gluing cardboard but should be used in a well-ventilated location to be safe from fumes and foul odor. 

When deciding the best way to glue cardboard, the mode of application, the glue’s drying and curing period, the bond’s strength, and the joint’s precision should all be considered. We’ll consider these factors in discussing the seven best ways to glue cardboard in the rest of this article, so read on! 

Several pieces of cardboard with elmer's glue laying on top

1. Use Tacky Glue

Tacky glue is one of the most common types of glue used to stick cardboard. It is made from PVA (Polyvinyl acetate) and is sometimes also called white glue, though it is also used with other glue types.

Tacky glue is widely used to glue cardboard because of its efficiency.

  • It has a strong grip on cardboard and forms a permanent joint once dry. 
  • It is water-soluble and, therefore, easy to clean when still wet. Once dry, it turns into a water-resistant state.
  • It does not dry instantly, and joints can easily be adjusted or corrected. This is the quality that gives the glue its ‘tacky’ name.
  • Tacky glue is white but dries to a neat transparent finish. It does not yellow with time.
  • It is non-toxic.

There are several varieties of tacky glue in the market. However, Aleene’s Tacky Glue is recognized as the original tacky glue. It is famous for being a strong-bond glue for crafts. You can find it on Amazon, sold as single or multiple pieces.

To glue cardboard with tacky glue, follow these steps. 

  1. Snip the applicator tip of the plastic container at the position with the thickness you want: thin for small cardboards and medium or thick for larger cardboards.
  2. Squeeze the glue onto the surface of one piece of cardboard. You can use a brush to spread the glue on the cardboard surface.
  3. Leave the glue for a couple of minutes until it begins to set.  
  4. Place the unglued piece of cardboard on the glued part and press to bond.
  5. Leave the glued cardboard pieces for about half an hour so the glue dries completely. You can place some objects on the joined pieces to help firm the bond.
  6. Let the glued cardboard sit for 24 hours or so before using it. Letting the cardboard sit will ensure the gluing is well-cured and completely cross-linked.

2. Glue With Contact Cement

Using contact cement is your best decision if you are gluing cardboard to nonporous material such as plastic or glass. But the contact cement is also commonly used when gluing cardboard to cardboard.

Contact cement is a powerful adhesive made from synthetic rubber and neoprene. When it comes to gluing cardboard, the adhesive is an excellent choice because it sets and dries as soon as it is applied, creating a permanent bond between the cardboard pieces.

One drawback of choosing contact cement to glue cardboard is its higher cost. For example, I found a $4.61 difference between a four fl oz best seller tacky glue bottle and a three fl oz best seller contact cement tube online.

If you choose fast-drying and strong bonding glue over price, here’s how to use contact cement to glue cardboard. 

  1. Spread a thin layer of contact glue on one side of the two cardboard pieces you what to join. 
  2. Allow the cement to set for 1-2 minutes until it begins to dry (it is no longer liquid). 
  3. Align the two pieces of cardboard and press them to bond for a few seconds. Pressing the pieces will glue them together instantly and permanently.

Related The Best Glue for Paper Mache (And How To Make Your Own).

3. Apply Super Glue

When used on cardboard, the gluing power of super glue stays in its quick-drying and strong-adhesion qualities. These characteristics make Super Glue a gluing option for super-fast DIYers and crafters. 

Super glue (sometimes called ‘crazy glue’) is created from cyanoacrylate, a fast-drying acrylic monomer. 

Once applied to the cardboard, the glue will dry in a few seconds, turning into a plastic form. When this happens, you won’t be able to adjust the joined cardboard pieces. However, if the firm joint is as you wanted, you have a secure permanent bond. 

A girl spreading white glue onto a large piece of cardboard

To glue cardboard with super glue, follow these steps. 

  1. Apply a thin layer of super glue on one of the cardboard pieces.
  2. Quickly stick the cardboard piece applied with glue to the other piece. 
  3. Press the two cardboard pieces together for a couple of seconds to instantly firm the bond. 
  4. Allow the cardboard to sit for one hour before using it to ensure the gluing is secure. 

As a safety precaution, you should note that Super Glue produces fumes detectable by the nose and eyes. The glue will also dry up on your skin if spilled on it and will take a few days to clear. 

The Hazardous Substances Fact Sheet by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services indicates that the Methyl 2-Cyanoacrylate in super glue can —

  • Irritate and burning to eyes and skin.
  • Irritate the nose and throat when inhaled, causing wheezing and coughing.

To avoid these adverse effects, use super glue on cardboard in a well-ventilated location, preferably outside. 

4. Use Hot Glue

Hot glue or hot-melt adhesive is a thermoplastic polymer-based adhesive. It is created in the form of clear rod sticks inserted into a hot glue gun for application in a molten form onto a surface.

The adhesive works perfectly with cardboard but is also an excellent choice for sticking paper on cardboard. 

To apply hot glue on cardboard, follow these steps. 

  1. Prepare the hot glue gun and connect it to a power source. 
  2. Insert the hot-melt adhesive sticks into the gun, one stick at a time.
  3. Flip the ‘ON’ button of the gun and dispense the glue onto the surface of the cardboard.
  4. Once you’ve dispensed enough glue, stick the cardboard to the other piece and press to firm the joint. 

Hot glue grabs and sticks fast on cardboard to form a permanent bond. You can watch this YouTube video below for an idea of how to use a hot glue gun.

Does Gorilla Glue Stick to Cardboard?

Gorilla glue sticks to cardboard. The glue has a polyurethane formula activated with water that extends into cardboard to create an extremely strong bond. The only drawback of using Gorilla glue to stick cardboard is that it is expensive. However, you can opt for the cheaper wood glue variant.

Best Hot Glue for Cardboard

The best hot glue for cardboard is the Gorilla Hot Glue Sticks. You can find the glue sticks on Amazon. 

Once dispensed onto a cardboard surface using a hot glue gun, the Gorilla hot glue dries quickly to create a permanent bond, resistant to seasonal temperature changes. Depending on your cardboard project, you can use the sticks with low or high gun temperatures.

Related The 6 Best Substitutes for Hot Glue.

5. Apply Epoxy Glue

Epoxy glue is a powerful option for cardboard gluing. It creates such a strong bond that the adhesive is often used in industrial works. It’s also a perfect option for sticking cardboard to other nonporous materials.

A man mixing a two part epoxy

The glue is also commonly called epoxy adhesive or resin glue. The latter term is from the resins from which the glue is created. Polyepoxides or epoxy resins are a group of volatile polymers and prepolymers that have epoxide as a component.

Apart from gluing stuff together, epoxy glue can also be used as a filler without the risk of shrinkage once it dries up. 

Epoxy glue can be purchased as one-part epoxy when the hardener and polymer that make it are already mixed. Normally, however, you will buy a two-part epoxy where the hardener and polymer are delivered in separate containers, and you have to mix them in a 1:1 ratio before application.

It’s important to work in a well-ventilated location when gluing cardboard with epoxy glue. That’s because the glue has a strong foul odor before drying. 

Once applied to cardboard, epoxy takes longer to dry and even longer to cure. As such, you should let your epoxy-glued cardboard sit untouched for at least 48 hours. However, you can facilitate faster curing by leaving the glued cardboard in a warmer room.

6. Consider Spray Adhesive

Spray adhesive is an easy-flowing glue sprayed on surfaces in a mist form using an aerosol can. It is readily considered when gluing large cardboard because it covers a large surface quickly. 

The adhesive also dries quickly to create a strong permanent bond. When dry, spray adhesive has a transparent finish. 

Although it will perfectly glue your cardboard, spray adhesive fumes can be hazardous to your health. 

The Safety Data Sheet for spray adhesive indicates that the product harms human health in high concentrations and prolonged exposure. In such cases, spray adhesive can produce a sedative effect and cause symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and headache.

You can avoid turning the effective gluing quality of spray adhesive into a human health risk. Follow these precautions when using spray adhesive to glue cardboard:

  • Strictly follow the ‘directions of use’ on the product label.
  • Use spray adhesive in a well-ventilated location, preferably outside. 
  • Use protective gear to reduce exposure to spray adhesive fumes, including gloves and a face mask. 
  • Use a drop cloth to protect the working surface.

Related The 3 Best Types of Glue for Building a Spaghetti Bridge.

7. Stick Cardboard Without Glue

Many DIYers and crafters seek to know how to stick cardboard together without glue. Well, sticking cardboard together without glue works best when you are crafting, not when you want to stick together pieces of cardboard to reinforce them. 

The minimum you need in this case is cardboard, scissors, and probably a ruler, depending on what you are making. 

There are different ways of sticking cardboard without glue, including bending, folding, and creating a slot. We’ll focus on slotting since it’s one of the most commonly used techniques. 

Let’s assume you want to create a cross-joint with two pieces of cardboard. Here’s how to stick cardboard together without glue using the slot technique.

  1. Cut the two pieces of cardboard to the desired size. 
  2. Cut a slit through the first cardboard at the point where you want to create the joint. The slot should be as deep as the length of the other piece of cardboard that you want to fit into it. 
  3. Cut a slit through the second cardboard similarly to the first. 
  4. Slide the two slot points into each other so that the two pieces of cardboard create a cross-joint. 

You can use this technique to create all four corners when crafting a box. Then use the folding technique to tidy the joints or leave them as they are.

The video below demonstrates how to create a slot joint with two pieces of cardboard.

One drawback of sticking cardboard together without glue or tape is that you cannot use these boxes for heavy-duty tasks. Small storage boxes that don’t need to be moved can be created perfectly with this method.


What is the Best Glue To Use on Cardboard?

The best glue to use on cardboard is tacky glue. That’s because tacky glue has a strong hold on cardboard, and the joint is permanent. Besides, it does not dry immediately, and you have time to make corrections or adjustments to the cardboard. Once dry, tacky glue leaves a clear finish.

What Is the Best Way To Glue Paper to Cardboard?

The best way to glue paper on cardboard is using hot glue. The glue does not run and dries extremely fast, which means it will not spoil your paper by staying wet for a long and soaking it. Hot glue creates a permanent bond between paper and cardboard and does not stain with time.

Thanks for reading!

For more, check out 11 Handy Substitutes for Glue (With 4 DIY Options).