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What is Polyurethane Glue?

Karyn Maier
Updated May 16, 2024
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Polyurethane glue is type of adhesive used in a variety of commercial industries, as well as in hobbies and crafts. While it has been available in Europe for years, this type of glue is a relative newcomer to the U.S. market. In fact, the first polyurethane glue product wasn’t readily available in the U.S. until the early 1990s. Today, it may be found in most hardware supply stores and is commonly recognized by the trade names Excel™ and Gorilla Glue™.

Although this adhesive bears the descriptive term “polyurethane,” it has little in common with like-named finishes. However, some polyurethane glue formulations can perform as a sealant. For instance, the gel form is the type frequently used in boat and light aircraft building and repair. Other polyurethane adhesive uses include woodworking, metalwork, and masonry. Construction grade polyurethane adhesives can be used with composite decking, flooring, and concrete.

There are several advantages to using polyurethane glue over other adhesives. For one thing, it is suitable for indoor or outdoor use and is highly durable. In fact, some brands of polyurethane adhesives guarantee the bond to last as long as the materials that are being joined together. In addition, unlike many other adhesives of this type, it is applied straight from the container and doesn’t need to be mixed. Most varieties of polyurethane glue can be painted too.

The strong adhesive factor from this glue stems from its foaming action when it comes into contact with moisture, meaning that it expands as it cures. This also suggests that a light misting of water on one surface to be glued may be necessary, unless the material already contains a small percentage of water vapor (i.e., wood, stone, etc.). Since the glue foams, there is a temptation to wipe or dab the glue as it cures, but this is actually counterproductive. In fact, any excess glue is easier to remove by sanding or scraping after it has cured. In addition, only a small amount of glue is needed and should only be applied to one surface.

Like other glues, polyurethane glue has a limited shelf life, generally six months to one year. However, it will last longer if refrigerated. It’s also worth remembering that since this type of glue reacts with moisture, it will also react to the moisture on skin. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wear gloves when working with it.

One more safety caveat: Polyurethane glue should be kept out of reach of pets and children. As with skin, the moisture-activating properties of this glue means that it can swell and cause intestinal blockage if ingested.

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Karyn Maier
By Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to HomeQuestionsAnswered is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Karyn is also a magazine writer, columnist, and author of four books. She specializes in topics related to green living and botanical medicine, drawing from her extensive knowledge to create informative and engaging content for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon306399 — On Nov 29, 2012

If I have two pieces of wood that have been coated with polyurethane, what will work to glue them together?

By Valencia — On Apr 23, 2011

Considering that this type of glue doesn't last very long you may be tempted to keep it in the fridge, as suggested. Please be very careful if you have children, as it is really dangerous for them to eat it. Plus, to be fair, something in the fridge gives the message that it is eatable!

I think it's better to buy smaller amounts and store it in a cool place, well out of the reach of little fingers!

By MissMuffet — On Apr 21, 2011

My dad's a keen woodworker and he recently passed over his usual brand to try a polyurethane wood glue. It was amusing watching him use it the first time, it is quite messy!

His opinion was that it is fantastic for end grain wood joints, as the amount of glue absorbed is much less than with yellow glue. But he still prefers his usual stuff for other jobs, especially those which need the glue to expand.

By Bakersdozen — On Apr 21, 2011

@anon153637 - I don't see why not! Depending on your figure and lifestyle belts take quite a lot of strain. So it makes sense to use something stronger than say plastic glue.

By anon153637 — On Feb 17, 2011

Could I use polyurethane glue to glue a polyurethane belt?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to HomeQuestionsAnswered is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New...
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