Types of construction adhesives and glues (C) Daniel Friedman Best Practices Guide Exterior Adhesives & Glues for buildings

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Exterior glues & adhesives:

This article series discusses best practices construction details for building exteriors, including water and air barriers, building flashing products & installation, wood siding material choices & installation, vinyl siding, stucco exteriors, building trim, exterior caulks and sealants, exterior building adhesives, and choices and application of exterior finishes on buildings: paints, stains.

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Exterior Building Adhesives & Glues: Product Choices, Installation Details

Article Contents

Table of Exterior Glues & Adhesives: Types, Properties, Applications

Portions of this article were adapted/paraphrased and used with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction by Steven Bliss.

Watch out: No exterior millwork should rely entirely on adhesives, since no glue is 100% waterproof, and any adhesive can fail with enough moisture cycling and movement in the wood. It is always wise to back up an exterior glue joint with mechanical fasteners, design the woodwork to shed water, and protect it with a good paint job. Still, there are several good options for gluing exterior work that should last indefinitely if well maintained (see Table 1-14) given just below. Also

[Click to enlarge any image].

Exterior adhesives and glues (C) Wiley and Sons, S Bliss

There are several factors to consider in selecting a glue. For exterior woodwork, the biggest concerns are typically water resistance, strength, and cleanup. Working temperatures, clamping time, and gap filling abilities may also be important, depending on the specific job and conditions.

A glue’s water resistance is classified as Type I or Type II. A Type I designation indicates that the glue bond can survive repeated submerging in boiling water. Type 1 glues are used for laminating structural timbers such as glulams. The most common Type 1 glue, resorcinol, has strict temperature and clamping requirements and is rarely used on residential job sites. Type II glues must maintain their bond after being soaked for four hours and then dried three successive times. These are suitable for all but the most punishing residential applications.

Guide to Polyurethane Glues and Adhesives on Building Exteriors

Gorilla Glue (C) Daniel FriedmanOne-part polyurethane glues have grown in popularity over the past few years due to their excellent strength and increased water resistance compared to yellow glue. Since polyurethane requires moisture to cure, it will bond to wood that has up to 25% moisture content.

For wood that has less than 10% moisture content or appears dry, you should moisten one of the two surfaces being joined with a sprayer or damp cloth and apply a thin coating of glue to the other. Polyurethane bonds well to wood, stone, most metals (not stainless steel), and ceramics, as long as at least one of the surfaces being glued is porous.

Polyurethane foams up as it cures, expanding to three to four times its original size and filling any small gaps in the joint. But unlike epoxy, the filled gaps have no strength. Clamping time is one to four hours, depending on the specific formulation. For maximum strength, clamp for 24 hours.

Because of its tenacious grip, you should protect any materials or finished surfaces from drips and protect your hands with latex gloves, as the glue cannot be removed except by abrasive cleansers.

If wet glue drips onto a finished surface, wipe with a dry cloth, since anything wet will activate curing. After the glue has dried, scrape away the squeeze-out with a sharp chisel and sand any residue. The glue dries to a brownish tan, which can be painted.

OPINION-DJF: we really enjoy almost everything about Gorilla Glue (photo above), and have used it very extensively in both repair (it will expand and secure a wobbly chair leg) and in construction indoors and out. Our favorite indoor project using this glue was building site-built built-up custom curved trim. Our photos (below) show the an in-process stage of constructing custom wood trim in a home as well as the finished result after sanding and finishing.

Polyurethane glue project for curved custom trim (C) Daniel Friedman Polyurethane glue project for curved custom trim (C) Daniel Friedman

We ripped and planed a mix of Brazilian cherry and white oak into narrow strips that were bent to shape, glued, and clamped in place. Critical was to use enough wedges and later clamps to be sure that our wood strips remained closely aligned with no open gaps during drying. We cut away the flue overflow after it dried, by hand, using a sharp chisel. A final sanding with an orbit sander and a router to round the edge of our curved trim/stair was all that it took to produce a beautiful end product.

What's not to enjoy: working wearing protective plastic gloves proved impossible - as soon as the gloves got sticky with glue it was impossible to pick up anything. Working bare-handed means you will have glue on your hands for several days. Washing the dishes in the kitchen sink every day will speed wearing off of this ooky mess.

Continuing from from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction:

Using Epoxy Glues and Adhesives on Building Exteriors

Epoxy and yellow and white glue (C) Daniel FriedmanLong the adhesive of choice for boat builders, epoxy has high adhesive strength and rigidity, low shrinkage, and good resistance to water and chemicals. It bonds well to wood, concrete, foam insulation, and other porous substrates—and to nonporous surfaces as long as they are lightly roughed up.

epoxy is comparable in strength and water resistance to polyurethanes, requires minimal clamping, and can fill gaps with little loss of strength, making it an ideal choice for less-than-perfect carpentry joints.

In our photo (left) an example of Loctite™ Epoxy is on the right.

As a two-part system—with various hardeners to choose from and additives such as fillers to improve gap filling—epoxy is also the most complicated and costly approach. Once the resin and hardener are mixed, the working time ranges from about 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the ambient temperature and whether a slow or fast hardener is used. Heat speeds up the curing, so a slow hardener is recommended in hot weather, a fast hardener in cold weather. It is important to mix the correct proportions and mix thoroughly or un reacted resin or hardener may remain in the cured epoxy.

For best results, use a disposable brush to coat both sides of the joint with liquid epoxy. After coating the joint, add fillers to the mix if required. Fillers change the viscosity of the mix and enable it to bridge gaps with minimal loss of strength (you can bridge small gaps up to about 1/16-inch without fillers).

A small amount of filler helps keep the mix from running. Once the fillers have been added, apply the thickened epoxy to one side of the joint and clamp just enough to squeeze out a little epoxy. A common mistake with epoxy is clamping too tightly. This will create a weak, “glue-starved” joint. Cleanup of the wet epoxy requires solvents such as acetone or lacquer thinner. Workers should use rubber gloves to protect their skin.

Any kind of clamping that holds the joint still is suitable, including staples, nails, or wood screws. Scrape off any squeeze-out with a putty knife or dry rag. Once the epoxy has cured to a solid state that cannot be dented with a fingernail, it has reached 90% of its final strength. Then the clamps can be removed and any excess sanded off. The epoxy continues to gain strength for several days and is paintable.

Hot Melt Glue Uses in Construction

Hot melt glue gun (C) Daniel FriedmanWhere clamping is not practical, another option is hot melt polyurethane. Hot-melt polyurethanes have been used in industrial settings for many years, but they have only recently been introduced for job-site use.

Unlike its moisture-cured cousin, hot-melt polyurethane does not foam up and needs no clamping.

It sets in about 30 seconds and provides the same level of water resistance as regular polyurethane but less than half the strength.

Still, this is more than enough for many applications. Remove any squeeze-out with a putty knife or scraper as soon as it firms up, as it is difficult to sand clean.

Hot melt glues are sold in a variety of formulations and colours and can be used on both porous and non-porous surfaces.

Watch out: getting hot melt glue on your fingers is likely to result in an unpleasant burn. Hotmelt glues flow from a low-melting-temperature glue gun at about 250°F and from higher temperature hotmelt glue guns at 380°F.

Guide to Super Glue for Exterior Applications

Loctite(R)  Super Glue Ultra Gel Control (TM) rated for exterior use (C) Daniel Friedman Loctite CorporationSince Steve's original chapter on exterior glues and adhesives was penned (ok well types), several of the stunning superglue producers have developed super glue products that perform well in outdoor or "exterior" applications.

Super glues are technically cyanoacrylate adhesives (of the formula Ethyl cyanoacrylate). These glues dry clear, bond very quickly, and are very strong provided that you follow the manufacturer's instructions and provided that the surfaces are suitably smooth. Slow-setting super glues and gel type superglues are adaptations of the original product that can make working with super-glue easier. Super glues are available for bonding a wide range of products, even concrete, steel and wood.

Common names for these instant bonding adhesives inclulde Krazy Glue and Superglue (the original), and pegamento instante.

Watch out: if using a super glue in a construction application choose the proper glue product for the materials your are bonding and also for interior or exterior use. Some cyanoacrylate adhesives super glues, but not all, are suitable for exterior use.

Exterior rated super glues include (this is not a complete list) LePage® Gel Control ® Super Glue, LePage® Ultra Gel Control® Super Glue, Loctite® Super Glue ULTRA Gel Control™ ,

An example of an exterior-rated super-glue is Loctite® Super Glue Ultra Gel Control™ shown at left and described by the company as follows:

Loctite® Super Glue ULTRA Gel Control™ is a specially formulated rubber toughened instant adhesive that resists impact, shock, vibration and temperature extremes. It is ideal for bonds subject to daily use and harsh conditions.

The Rubber Toughened Formula is also Outdoor Safe and gives more time to align pieces before the glue takes hold. Loctite® Super Glue ULTRA Gel Control™ comes in a patented side-squeeze design for maximum control and air-tight storage. It dries clear and sets without clamping.

Loctite® Super Glue ULTRA Gel Control™ is resistant to moisture and freezing temperatures. - retrieved 18 Feb 2015, original source:  loctiteproducts.com

Watch out: getting superglue in the eye can result in a serious eye injury "ocular superglue injury" (McLean 1997 and others) as we cite at REFERENCES

Watch out: superglue bonds instantly to the skin (Daniell 1997 and others). Getting super glue on your fingers can result in tearing of skin before you can pry your hands apart. This substance would in special and personal appications be more effective than the famous astringent mother-in-law plant, but for legal reasons (we have no liability insurance) we don't recommend its application on a human being unless that use is for medical purposes and supervised by a physician.

Superglues used in Medical Applications are Different

Superglue in a somewhat different molecular structure (Dermabond Advanced™ [2-Octyl cyanoacrylate] or Histoacryl® Topical Skin Adhesive Butyl cyanoacrylate]) has indeed been used in wound closure and in reconstructive surgery by orthopedic surgeons.

Kennedy (1994) warned that superglues used in medical applications are similar but not identical to those used to glue your hat-band back on. Legat (2004) discusses the use of superglue in the dental field. And though manufacturers rightly warn about eye injury from getting superglue in your eye, there are also medical applications using superglue of the Dermabond type in sealing clear corneal cataract sounds (Rittterbrand 2005).

Report of use of superglue to fix Jim's broken spine

Our friend Jim Kelly was shopping when he bent over the meat cooler. He woke up in hospital. A soda delilvery operator had toppled an overloaded hand truck of soda onto Jim, breaking his back and leaving Jim unconscious. Jim's orthopedic surgeon, in an emergency procedure, used super-glue in the course of repairing damage to Jim's spinal column and remarkably, he was up and walking the next day. (Actually all of them were up and walking the next day, but the soda delivery operator was, we heard, walking the sidewalks looking for a new job.)

Watch out: while some super glues have been specially formulated for use on foamed plastics, most don't work on soft or foamed plastics such as insulating board. For gluing foam board a construction adhesive recommended by the insulating board manufacturer will work and is suitable, for example, when gluing foam board insulation to a basement foundation wall. Spray adhesives can also work for affixing foam board insulation to building surfaces.

Non-cyano-acrylate Super Glue Alternatives Offer Additional Bonding Properties

3-M 20 second setting urethand adhesive alternative to superglue (C) InspectApedia 3M

3M Corporation offers 3M Super Fast Flex Repair, a 20-second set urethane adhesive that "repalces cyanoacrylates". 3M says that their urethane adhesive will not crack or become brittle like cyanoacrylates and that it bonds to virtually anysubstrate with excellent gap filling properties for bonding small parts.

Above: 3M Automix 8115 fast-set urethane adhesive.

Fast setting epoxies also can be an alternative to superglue for some bonding alternatives.

Guide to Type II Yellow Glue on Building Exteriors

Epoxy and yellow and white glue (C) Daniel FriedmanPolyvinyl acetate (PVA) is the most common glue on residential job sites due to its low price, long shelf life, easy cleanup, and overall ease of use. The Type II version provides good water resistance and provides a very strong bond, and it is only slightly more expensive than the regular yellow glue.

In our photo (left) the yellow Titebond™ glue (at left in the photo) is suitable for the applications discussed here. While Elmers™ also makes a yellow Type II glue, do not use the white "school glue" shown in the center of our photograph for construction purposes. White school glue lacks water resistance and strength and won't work outdoors.

Similar to the older style white glue, yellow glue is formulated with a higher solids content to make it less runny and with other additives to make it set up quicker. Clamp time is about one hour. Any squeeze-out is simple to remove with a damp rag. Once the glue dries, however, it will resist paint and stain and needs to be scraped or sanded off.

In general, yellow glue should not be applied in temperatures below 50°F or allowed to freeze before it cures. In freezing weather, store the glue indoors, since a couple of freeze-thaw cycles may ruin the glue. For exterior work subjected to moderate weather exposure, Type II yellow glue is a good option.

Uses for White Craft Glue

Watch out: White Craft Glue, which in some cases such as Elmers' glue products is sold in a similar-looking bottle is white in color, not yellow, and is not suitable for outdoor applications. Because white craft glues use water as the solvent and carrier for the adhesive, these glues are easy to clean-up during use, are low in toxicity, and are often used in crafts and projects in schools and for children.

White glues or "craft glues" are intended for gluing light, porous materials such as cardboard, cloth, and paper and are not suitable for general construction indoors nor outside.

What's the difference between Type I Yellow Glues and Type II Yellow Glues?

Type I yellow glue is rated for interior use only. Type II yellog glues can be used outdoors.

Watch out: Yellow wood glue, discussed just above, may be sold in both interior-use and exterior-use applications. Interior-use yellow glues are also water-based and use adhesives simlar to those used in white craft glue (vinyl acetate polymers) but are stronger and may be suitable for interior use in buildings such as gluing trim. However a Type I yellow glue that is not marked as "for exterior use" should not be used outdoors.

-- Portions of this article were adapted and used with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

Where to Buy Exterior Glues & Sealants

Construction Sealant (Caulks) Suppliers & Products

  • Chemrex www.chemrex.com

Polyurethanes and other high-performance sealants

  • DAP www.dap.com
  • Acrylic latex caulks
  • Dow Corning Sealants www.dowcorningsealants.com
  • Silicone sealants
  • GE Silicones www.gesilicones.com Silicone sealant
  • Geocel Corp www.geocelusa.com Acrylic latex, tripolymer, copolymer, Kraton, and clear sealants
  • Macklanburg-Duncan www.mdteam.com Acrylic latex sealants
  • OSI Sealants Inc www.osisealants.com Polyseamseal PVA-based caulk. Pro Series includes latex, polyurethane, and Kraton sealants.
  • www.phenoseal.com Phenoseal vinyl adhesive caulk
  • Red Devil www.reddevil.com Acrylic, silicone, and butyl sealants
  • Sashco Sealants www.sashco.com Big Stretch and Mor-Flexx water-based sealants, Lexel Kraton sealant
  • Sika Corp www.sikaconstruction.com Complete line of Sikaflex polyurethane-based sealants, butyl sealant
  • Tremco Inc. www.tremcosealants.com High-performance, architectural-grade sealants,
  • UGL www.ugl.com Acrylic latex caulks
  • White Lightning www.wlcaulk.com Tripolymer, butyl, polyurethane, silicone, elastomeric, and other high-performance sealants

Exterior Adhesives

  • Abatron EpoxyWood Repair/Restoration 5501 - 95th Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53144 USA Tel: (262) 653-2000 Fax: (262) 653-2019, For orders: (800) 445-1754 Abatron provides a wide range of wood & building restoration epoxy products including a low-viscosity system that penetrates and solidifies rotted wood and a thicker wood repair putty type epoxy.
    Epoxy, BestBond polyurethane glue
  • Ambel www.excelglue.com Excel polyurethane glue
  • Elmer’s Products www.elmers.com Yellow glues, ProBond polyurethane glue
  • Custom-Pak Adhesives www.custompak.com Resorcinol and yellow glues
  • DAP Inc. www.dap.com Weldwood contact cement, resorcinol, and construction adhesives Resources 49
  • Franklin International www.titebond.com Titebond yellow glue, Liquid Hide Glue, and construction adhesives
  • Gloucester Co. Inc. www.phenoseal.com Phenoseal adhesive caulk
  • Gougeon Brothers www.westsystem.com West System epoxy
  • Gorilla Group www.gorillaglue.com Gorilla® polyurethane glue
  • Krazy Glu®e, 460 Polaris Pkwy, Suite 500, Westerville OH 43082, USA, Tel: 888-435-6377, website: www.krazyglue.com
  • LePage® Brand Products, LePage® Super Glue, Tel: 800-624-7767, Website: lepageproducts.com
  • Loctite® Brand - Consumer Products Henkel Corporation 26235 First Street Westlake Ohio 44145Consumer Relations Help Line: 800-624-7767 HELP LINE Website: http://www.loctiteproducts.com/ providers of Super Glue including exterior rated superglue products.
  • MACCO Adhesives www.liquidnails.com Liquid Nails construction adhesive
  • SI Sealants www.osisealants.com PL400 construction adhesive
  • Super Glue Corporation, 9420 Santa Anita Ave. Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 Phone: Toll Free 800-538-3091 or local 909-987-0550 Email: info@supergluecorp.com, Website; supergluecorp.com
  • System Three Resins www.systemthree.com Quick Cure epoxy

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.


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  • Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: info@buildingadvisor.com
    Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
  • Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss. John Wiley & Sons, 2006. ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, Hardcover: 320 pages, available from Amazon.com and also Wiley.com. See our book review of this publication.
  • Daniell, Henry, Chittibabu Guda, David T. McPherson, Xiaorong Zhang, Jie Xu, and Dan W. Urry. "Hyperexpression of a synthetic protein-based polymer gene." In Recombinant Protein Protocols, pp. 359-371. Humana Press, 1997.
  • McLean, C. J. "Ocular superglue injury." Journal of accident & emergency medicine 14, no. 1 (1997): 40-41.
  • Wang, Angela A., and Christopher H. Martin. "Full-thickness skin necrosis of the fingertip after application of superglue." The Journal of hand surgery 28, no. 4 (2003): 696-698.
    Abstract: We present the case of a 39-year-old woman who applied superglue to her fingertip as a treatment for dry skin. She developed full-thickness necrosis of her thumb pad complicated by a secondary superinfection. This necrosis occurred from the degradation of the cyanoacrylate in the superglue compound to formaldehyde, causing local histotoxicity. This injury necessitated a local flap for coverage, which healed uneventfully and without lasting sequelae.
  • Kennedy, J. P. "New biomaterials by carbocationic processes." In Macromolecular Symposia, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 79-96. Hüthig & Wepf Verlag, 1994.
  • Leggat, Peter A., Ureporn Kedjarune, and Derek Richard Smith. "Toxicity of cyanoacrylate adhesives and their occupational impacts for dental staff." Industrial health 42, no. 2 (2004): 207-211.
  • Ritterband, David C., Seth W. Meskin, Daniel E. Shapiro, Jaroslaw Kusmierczyk, John A. Seedor, and Richard S. Koplin. "Laboratory model of tissue adhesive (2-octyl cyanoacrylate) in sealing clear corneal cataract wounds." American journal of ophthalmology 140, no. 6 (2005): 1039-1043.
    • Carson, Dunlop &
Associates Ltd., TorontoCarson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 info@carsondunlop.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides:
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        Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
      • The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones.
    • Paul Galow - technical consultant on networking, LAN design, applications support. Galow Consulting Services, 914-204-1749, email: paulgalow@galowconsulting.com
    • John Rudy, Advantage Home Inspections, Flemington N.J. 08822 home inspector, 908-806- 6364, Home, Radon & Termite Inspections, Central & Parts of North New Jersey, email: jonadvantage1@yahoo.com
    • Malco® Products siding tools are available from that company, including the SideSwiper II SRT2 discussed at Malco's website. Websearch 09/07/2010 http://malcoproducts.com/product/roofing-siding-gutter/siding-vinyl/siding-tools-vinyl/sideswiper-ii. Malco also produces other vinyl siding repair tools such as aprons, awls, hole punches, saw blades, and tools for for fiber cement products including power-assisted cutters
    • Parmetol, a wood preservativerecommended by the manufacturer was used as a fungicidal additive to paint on the Blue Poplar wood sculpture in Amsterdam, by artist Mari Shields [ - art conservation consult DJF-artist MS 2010]
    • "Weather-Resistive Barriers [copy on file as /interiors/Weather_Resistant_Barriers_DOE.pdf ] - ", how to select and install housewrap and other types of weather resistive barriers, U.S. DOE

    Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair

    • Home Reference Book - Carson Dunlop AssociatesThe Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.

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