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Polyvinyl acetate, also known as PVA or PVAc, is a synthetic polymer, or plastic. It is more specifically categorized as a thermoplastic, meaning it melts at high temperatures, and has certain properties such as being elastic and flexible at room temperature. Polyvinyl acetate adhesive is glue containing this compound. Many common types of glue, including standard white or school glue, contain this material. Yellow carpenter's glue, commonly used for woodworking projects, is also a polyvinyl acetate adhesive, as is the similar white wood glue. PVA glues are considered very easy to use, since they can be cleaned up with water, are safe to handle without gloves or other skin protection, and do not give off any hazardous fumes, but they do not hold up well in moist or wet conditions.
A polyvinyl acetate adhesive works best on porous materials, such as wood, paper, and cardboard, and is also recommended when gluing vinyl and leather. Many PVA glues are white, and they are used for a wide variety of purposes, such as making collages, paper crafts, and woodworking projects. These adhesives are acid-free, which makes them especially suited to projects like bookbinding, where an acidic adhesive would deteriorate the paper.
Yellow carpenter's glue is commonly used both for DIY home construction projects and for woodworking projects, such as furniture making. This glue keeps its yellow tinge when it dries, while a white adhesive dries clear. White PVA glue also has a longer drying time than yellow glue. Both work well for most types of wood, but they do not always provide a strong bond if the wood is oily, like teak. The adhesive's water content can also make some types of wood, like beech, warp.
In order for a PVA glue to form as strong an adhesive bond as possible, the user should work at room temperature, ensure good air circulation, and put pressure on the materials being glued together, such as by using clamps. This type of adhesive is not suitable for use in places where it will be exposed to moisture or water. It should also not be allowed to freeze, because this will make the glue lose its ability to form a strong bond.