Reinvent with cement

How to use contact cement: A DIY guide for this versatile adhesive

We lay out the steps and show you not only how to use contact cement glue but also what type of projects are best for this quick and powerful adhesive.

What is contact cement glue? Your options

Contact cement, or contact adhesive is a unique type of glue that provides a strong bond to many surfaces. It is especially useful for bonding two large flat surfaces—such as a desk or tabletop to the wood substrate—and for some types of flooring.

There are many varieties of contact cements designed for specific types of materials. When choosing a product, make your selection based on

  • the material to be bonded,
  • whether the object will be subject to outdoor conditions or extreme heat,
  • if the bond must remain flexible.

Contact cement is available as a brush-on, spray-on, or straight-from-the-tube application. Your type of project will determine which is most suitable.

Using contact cement: Key applications

Being able to apply contact cement to laminate is critical to some home reno projects as it is the most common type of adhesive for countertop laminates. If properly applied, the laminate will adhere permanently and without any “soft spots” or pockets of air. It is also commonly used for edging strips on shelves, tabletops, and cabinetry.

What else is contact cement for? Contact glue is great for everyday repairs to high-use items such as fixing a loose shoe sole. You can even easily re-attach a peeling grip pad to your surfboard!

Many formulas are designed to remain flexible. This makes contact cement perfect for repairing torn furniture cushions, automotive seats, and outdoor patio furniture.

Need to remove old laminate from a tabletop? Try heating the laminate with a heat gun or steam to soften the glue, then pry it away. Use a lacquer thinner and a putty knife to remove the residue.

How to apply contact cement: Follow these steps

Using contact cement is not difficult, but it involves a unique method compared to some other glues. In most cases, you will apply contact cement to one or both surfaces and allow it to dry (or at least become tacky) before joining the items. Regardless of the specific glue you opt for, using contact cement features a few universal steps listed below.

  1. Make sure the surfaces to be bonded are clean and dry.
  2. Use sandpaper to rough up surfaces that are smooth or shiny. Try starting with a 220-grit sandpaper.
  3. Apply contact cement to one or both surfaces with a brush, wooden stick, roller, or by spray can.
  4. Allow the adhesive to become tacky. This typically takes about 5–10 minutes. See the product label for instructions.
  5. Press the items together firmly. In the case of laminates, seat covers, and other larger surfaces, press or use a dry roller, starting from the middle, and work outwards in all directions. This will remove any air pockets.
  6. Use a weight or clamps to keep the materials together until the glue has cured (2 hour minimum).

Always use contact cement which is designed for your project. For example, use flooring adhesive for floors and laminate adhesive for laminating countertops. This may seem obvious, but different applications require unique formulas for best results.

For smaller repairs to flexible items, it’s hard to beat Loctite Vinyl, Fabric & Plastic Flexible Adhesive. This clear liquid will never become brittle and is perfect for fixing shoes, toys, seat covers, inflatable mattresses, and more. It bonds to glass, leather, wood, fabric, and some plastics.