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What Is the Difference Between Epoxy and Super Glue?

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Epoxy and super glue are strong adhesives compatible with various materials, thus suitable for a plethora of applications. However, epoxy and super glue have more differences than similarities. So, what are their main differences?

Epoxy glue is an exceptionally strong adhesive and a filler comprising two chemicals: a resin and a hardening agent. In contrast, super glue is only a strong adhesive made of cyanoacrylate. Both epoxy and super glue may contain additives based on the formula. 

Super glue is more popular than epoxy adhesive, but the latter is catching up. The rest of this article will go into greater detail on every difference between epoxy and super glue regarding attributes and applications. 

Epoxy vs. Super Glue | The Primary Differences

You can find epoxy and super glue as both transparent and colored gel-like adhesives. A few brands use additives, giving their epoxy or superglue extra features, such as an additional chemical or agent in a special formula to bond faster to a particular material or type of surface. 

Here’s a head-to-head comparison of epoxy and superglue:

AttributesEpoxy AdhesiveSuper Glue

Compatible Materials
Plastic, metal, wood, rubber, ceramic, masonry, concrete, leather, fabric, glass, etc.Plastic, wood, rubber, metal, ceramic, leather, paper, etc. 
Incompatible MaterialsNAConcrete, masonry, PE1, PP2 
Adhesive StrengthStrongerStrong
Tensile StrengthStrongerStrong
Shear StrengthStrongWeak
Filling or Filler EffectYesOnly small scale. Hobbies, models, etc.
Ease of UseEasyEasier
Curing TimeFastFaster
Post-Cure ProcessingYesNo
CostAt par with super glueAt par with epoxy adhesive
Available VariantsPlentyPlenty
Toxicity & SafetyWear protective gearWear protective gear
  1. PE: Polyethylene (unless it is a specialty super glue for all plastics)
  2. PP: Polypropylene (unless it is a specialty super glue for all plastics)

Does Epoxy Work As Glue?

Epoxy works as glue due to its strong bonding and polymerization characteristics. Epoxy adhesive combines resin or epoxide-based polymers and a chemical for hardening that facilitates the polymerization, without which it won’t bond or fuse. 

Epoxy Adhesive Is Stronger Than Super Glue

Any glue or adhesive must provide three types of strengths. The first type is the adhesion strength, which shows how strongly two materials are glued together. In this aspect, both epoxy adhesive and super glue fare exceptionally well in real-world settings. 

The adhesion strength exists in a neutral or isolated setting where no external factor influences the bond between the two materials or surfaces. Two types of strengths, tensile and shear, come into play when external influencers exert any force, pressure, thrust, or impact. 

Tensile strength determines how well a glue or adhesive will hold two objects together if pulled apart. Shear strength refers to the adhesion when the same two objects are cut, sliced, and subjected to angular force or pressure, unusual fall or drop, and impact. 

Both epoxy adhesive and super glue offer sufficient tensile strength, at least for household applications. Also, standard epoxy adhesives and super glues are used commercially and industrially. Hence, you can rely on the adhesion and tensile strength of both.

However, the tensile strength doesn’t exist in isolation as it’s inherently correlated to shear strength. Most manufacturers mix the tensile and shear strength when they advertise a certain psi or MPa, such as 3,770 psi or 26 MPa. The difference between epoxy adhesive and super glue becomes evident when you consider this combined tensile and shear strength.

Epoxy adhesive can have a shear strength of as high as 7,000 psi (48.2 MPa). In contrast, super glue has a maximum shear strength of up to 4,000 psi (27.5 MPa). However, neither of these maximums is provided by any epoxy adhesive or super glue made for consumers. Also, you don’t need such off-the-charts tensile & shear strength for any DIY project or application. 

The affordable epoxy adhesives on Amazon.com have shear strengths ranging from ~1,500 to 4,000 psi (10.34 to 27.5 MPa), much more than what you need for most adhesions. Most super glues have tensile & shear strength substantially lower than these standard epoxy adhesives. 

Furthermore, the tensile & shear strength provided by both epoxy adhesive and super glue varies depending on the materials and surfaces you have. Steel and aluminum don’t bond the same way as metal and wood, rubber and glass, or two identical materials & surfaces. 

Super Glue Is Easier To Use Than Epoxy Adhesive

Epoxy adhesives have two components that you must combine in equal parts and mix thoroughly before applying on any material or surface. A few brands sell epoxy adhesives in syringes with two barrels to help you conveniently pour out a necessary portion.

However, you’ll still need a disposable vessel to mix the resin and hardening agent and then apply the epoxy adhesive to the object. In contrast, you can take a tube of superglue, squeeze out just a dab for an inch and apply directly on the part of the material or surface you want. Super glue is undoubtedly more convenient, faster, and easier to use than epoxy adhesive.

Furthermore, super glue cures faster than epoxy. While epoxy adhesive demands around five minutes for application, you can apply most super glues in a few seconds. However, super glue also takes many hours to cure completely. Besides, the curing time depends on the application. 

Different materials, surface areas, and immediate surroundings or external factors, such as temperature and relative humidity or moisture, will influence the curing time. The longer you allow any glue to cure, the better it will hold in due course, so let them be for twenty-four hours. 

Epoxy Adhesive Is a Moldable Filler, Super Glue Is Not

Both epoxy and super glue are available in different textures. The gel-like adhesives harden as they cure. However, epoxy cures, hardens, and fills up any gaps, cracks, or fissures. Superglue has no such characteristics. Also, you cannot use superglue in excess. 

Excessive super glue impairs its ability to bond, and the objects in your project won’t adhere properly. In contrast, epoxy adhesive can fill up not just surface irregularities but also holes or deep cracks.

Furthermore, epoxy adhesive is a moldable filler. Once applied and cured, you can sand the epoxy adhesive for the desired finish. Also, you can use a coating of your choice, which is likely if you’re finishing the entire project with any paint or other types of aesthetic enhancements. 

Toxicity of Epoxy Adhesive vs. Super Glue 

Neither epoxy adhesive nor super glue is toxic per se, but necessary precaution is imperative. While an organic resin is non-toxic, the hardening agent may not be entirely safe. Wear gloves and protective eyeglasses. Also, you should ideally use epoxy in a well-ventilated room.

Likewise, gloves can protect your fingers and hands from inadvertent contact with super glue. Wear a mask or ensure adequate ventilation when removing super glue. The widely used acetone to remove super glue is toxic, and inhaling its fumes is unhealthy. 

The Verdict: Epoxy vs. Super Glue

Epoxy is a better adhesive due to its greater tensile & shear strength. Hence, you may use epoxy for larger & heavier materials and objects that need more endurance due to their utilities. Otherwise, super glue is effective for light materials that won’t have to endure extreme shear forces due to external factors. However, choose depending on the materials. 

Epoxy adhesive is a moldable filler, too. Thus, epoxy is a natural choice if you need to fill up a few spaces on the surface or recesses in a material. Super glue is a nonstarter for such applications. Furthermore, you can finish epoxy adhesive with paint or other materials. 

Last but not least, epoxy adhesive is compatible with more materials than super glue. You’ll find specially engineered formulae in epoxy adhesives to make them ideal for distinct materials like metal and concrete. While you can buy specialty super glue for glass, the adhesive is unsuitable for heavy & functional objects, concrete, and a few combinations of materials. 

Should You Use Epoxy or Super Glue for Plastics?

Use epoxy adhesive for larger & heavier plastics, especially if the objects are functional or subjected to substantial external forces. You may use super glue for smaller materials & non-functional objects only if the particular product is meant for all plastics. 

  • Gorilla Super Glue Gel, available on Amazon, is a bestseller among cyanoacrylate adhesives. You can use this super glue on plastic, wood, leather, paper, ceramic, and metal. However, the clear super glue isn’t suitable for polyethylene and polypropylene plastics.
  • Consider Loctite Super Glue with Activator for polyethylene, polypropylene, and other common plastics. This super glue is resistant to many chemicals, freezing temperatures, and water. However, you cannot use it on materials other than plastics. 
  • Epoxy adhesive is a more versatile and compatible option if you have to glue various materials, including plastics. Consider J-B Weld 5 Minute Set Epoxy for plastics, glass, tile, ceramic, wood, metal, concrete, and other materials. You may also consider Loctite Epoxy Instant Mix Syringe.

Loctite’s epoxy is resistant to water, humidity, and several solvents. The epoxy doesn’t shrink and endures high impacts. You can paint, drill, and sand the materials, too. Loctite’s epoxy adhesive is suitable for most plastics, wood, metal, ceramic, glass, and stone. Also, you can use epoxy to fill gaps, as a filling material in myriad ways, and for cosmetic repairs & laminating.

Can You Mix Epoxy and Super Glue?

Do not mix epoxy and super glue unless you know the actual chemical compositions of all the components. Epoxy adhesives use hardening agents, and those chemicals may react with the cyanoacrylates in superglues, possibly leading to a volatile combination.  

Is Super Glue an Epoxy Resin? 

Super glue isn’t an epoxy resin. All super glues comprise cyanoacrylates derived from ethyl cyanoacrylate and esters. While the cyanoacrylate family is a monomer, it’s distinct from the polymerizing resin that uses epoxides and other chemicals as the hardener.  

You can safely mix the resin and the epoxy hardening agent as they’re formulated to react and polymerize, thus forming the bond or adhesion. Super glue can’t be mixed with either resin or epoxy hardening agents. Hence, treat these two as completely distinct products.  

Is Gorilla Glue as Strong as Epoxy?

Gorilla makes both super glues and epoxy adhesives like other brands. The Gorilla Super Glue Gel isn’t as strong as epoxy. However, Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy is an epoxy adhesive and as strong as other similar glues using hardening resin. 

Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy, available on Amazon.com, is a syringe with two barrels containing the resin and hardening agent separately, suitable for plastic, wood, metal, glass, ceramic, and as a filler. The 5-min Gorilla glue forms a strong and permanent bond like other epoxy adhesives. 

How Long Does Epoxy Glue Last?

Theoretically, epoxy glue can last as long as the bonded objects exist after the adhesive is fully cured and hardened. Practically, the epoxy adhesive bond with the objects will fail if the joined materials undergo irreparable damage or total degradation. 

Hand-holding-two-tubes-with-epoxy-glue-ingredients-resin-and-hardener
Epoxy will probably outlast whatever you are sticking together.

What Is the Strongest Epoxy Glue?

According to Guinness World Records, the strongest epoxy glue is DELOMONOPOX VE403728. The high-temperature resistant, heat-curing epoxy resin-based adhesive made by Delo lifted a truck weighing 17.5 tons (35,000 lbs) using only 0.1 oz (3 g) of the glue. 

What Is the Strongest Epoxy for Metal?

The strongest epoxy adhesives for metal are Devcon 5 Minute Epoxy Waterproof Glue, CECCORP C-Tough Two-Part Epoxy Glue, and TotalBoat Thixo Epoxy Adhesive. These epoxy adhesives are specially formulated for metals, such as aluminum.  

Apart from metals, Devcon 5 Minute Epoxy Waterproof Glue is suitable for wood, ceramics, china, glass, and concrete. It’s an affordable epoxy adhesive but doesn’t have the convenient two-barrel syringe like the Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy or Loctite Epoxy Mix Instant Syringe. 

CECCORP C-Tough Two-Part Epoxy Adhesive is for metals, glass, fiberglass, wood, masonry, stones, and rigid plastics, but not for rubbers, PP, PE, and PTFE. TotalBoat Thixo Thickened Epoxy Adhesive is a glue, filler, and sealer for metals, stone, brick, glass, fiberglass, and tile. 

What Glue Works Best on Resin?

You may use epoxy, cyanoacrylates-based super glues, or silicone adhesives. Epoxy glues work best on resin, especially in the case of 3D printed models and objects. Also, it’s convenient to process & finish printed resin and epoxy resin used to glue the pieces. 

Which Surfaces to Use Epoxy On?

Here’s a list of the surfaces to use epoxy on:

  • Plastics 
  • Metals
  • Wood
  • Rubber
  • Glass
  • Ceramics
  • Masonry
  • Concrete
  • Leather
  • Fabrics

Which Surfaces to Use Super Glue On?

Here’s a list of the surfaces to use super glue on:

  • Plastics (exemptions based on super glue type)
  • Wood (excluding large and heavy pieces)
  • Rubber (excluding heavy-duty functional objects)
  • Metal (excluding intensive applications)
  • Ceramics
  • Leather
  • Paper

Bottom Line

Epoxy adhesive is exceptionally stronger than super glue. However, the effortless application of super glue makes it ideal for swift fixes. Use epoxy glue when you can thoroughly mix the resin & hardener and have sufficient time to allow the adhesive to cure perfectly for a solid finish.

For more, check out What Surfaces Does Gorilla Glue Work on? | Complete Guide.

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