Explore the Variety of Adhesive Types for Paper Crafters

Explore the Variety of Adhesive Types for Paper Crafters main article image
Posted on March 2, 2021 by Ronda Cook

Working on a project is easier when you have the right tools, whether it’s fixing a car or building a shelf. It’s no different in the crafting world. Having the right tools and knowing what they’re used for results in less frustration.

A good adhesive is essential in the paper crafting world, but there are so many! How do you decide what to use? There are three types of adhesives – wet, dry, and low tack. Wet adhesives are known as “glue” and come in the form of liquids, paste, stick, or spray. Photo corners, tape, tabs, and dots are considered dry adhesives, and low tack adhesives are much less sticky and best used as a temporary placeholder. Low tack adhesives can be found in tape or sheets.

Let’s explore the various types of adhesives for paper crafting and their specific purposes.

Glue stick

glue stick

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Glue sticks are not just for elementary students anymore! They are tubes that can be twisted or pushed up to access the solid adhesive. Glue sticks are water-based and dry clear, even if the initial application color is purple. They are washable, non-toxic, and inexpensive, making it a perfect choice for paper crafting classes and workshops. Brand names include Elmer’s, Avery, and Aleene’s.

Tape runner

The most popular adhesive for scrapbookers and card makers are tape runners. Tape runners are rolls of double-sided tape encased in a dispensing plastic case that you pull across the surface where you wish to adhere something. The dispenser allows for a smooth line, excellent control and no drying time. Permanent, re-positionable, dots, tape, etc. Tape runners are portable, convenient and typically used to bond paper, photos and ribbon. Popular brands include Tombow, Scotch, and Ad-Tech.

Glue pen

Glue pens are available in different size tips which allow you to apply the glue with exact precision, which make them perfect for digital die cuts or intricate shapes. Another creative use for glue pens is for glitter applications on your cards or scrapbook layouts. Use the glue pen to write words or draw an object, then cover with glitter. Once dried, shake off excess glitter. Look for Zig and Tombow brands

Tacky glue

A white glue, similar in appearance to Elmer’s Glue, that dries clear and is flexible, allowing time for repositioning of the items you’re gluing down. Compared to the thinner “school” glue, tacky glue is a thick polyvinyl acetate glue used to adhere items with a stronger bond. Tacky glue works well on paper, wood, fabric, felt, and plastic. The most popular name brand is Aleene’s.

Glue dots

Glue dots are ideal for removing and repositioning items on your project. Even though the dots are removable, they create a secure bond between the two surfaces. They are super sticky, dry instantly, and come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. Glue dots are great for adding embellishments, such as flowers and rhinestones, to your projects. The dots are non-toxic, acid- and lignin-free, therefore, making them safe to use on and around photographs. The top brand is actually called Glue Dots.

Foam tape

As the name implies, foam tape is a double-sided tape made from foam and is thicker than other tapes. Also known as “pop dots” foam tape is a dry glue and an excellent source for adding dimension to your project. Foam tape comes in various sizes and shapes, including strips, which can be cut to any size. It works best on paper, cardstock, and chipboard. Popular brands include Scrapbook Adhesives and Scotch.

Low tack adhesive

Some of the uses for low tack adhesives that crafters swear by include holding thin metal dies in place while running through a die cut machine, holding stencils in place, and masking off sections of your project that you don’t want disturbed while applying various methods such as painting or misting. And since low tack adhesives are not super sticky, they won’t rip your project when trying to remove them. Look for Crafter’s Companion or 3M.

Red line tape

The red line tape is a double-sided, high tack adhesive. Named for its color, the adhesive tape itself is clear once the red strips are pulled away. The red line tape provides a strong bond and is an excellent choice for adhering strips of ribbons to your cards and layouts. This adhesive is packaged and sold under a variety of brand names, such as 3M and Crafter’s Companion, and it’s definitely a favorite of paper crafters.


This is a wonderful glue to have in your toolbox, as it can be used to bond wood, fabric, leather, ceramic, glass, metal, paper, and more. E6000 provides a super strong, permanent bond. It’s also waterproof and can be painted on after it dries.  Another benefit of E6000 is that you have approximately five minutes time to re-position your items before a permanent bond is secured. It is great for attaching small embellishments, such as buttons and rhinestones. E6000 is the brand name!

Gel medium

Gel mediums can be used as an all-in-one glue, sealer, and finish on paper, fabric, wood, printed material, and more. Made of a non-toxic, water-based formula, gel mediums dry clear, hold tight and cleans up easily with soap and water. The original, and most popular gel mediums is Mod Podge, which comes in 23 different formulas. The type you’ll use depends on what you’re attaching. Most often used for paper crafts are the Soft Gel Matte or the Gloss Gel Mediums, which are very flexible, do not add texture to surfaces, and dry clear.

Washi tape

Washi Tape

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Not to be confused with masking tape, washi tape is made from natural fibers, such as bamboo, hemp, or the bark of trees. The texture may be similar to masking tape, but washi tape is stronger and more durable. Due to its versatility, washi tape has grown wildly popular in the last couple of years and can be found in any color or pattern imaginable. Just about every adhesive manufacturer has come out with their own washi tape. Try them all!

Create-a-sticker machine

The Xyron Create-A-Sticker machine applies edge-to-edge adhesive and creates an instant sticker. Place a photo, ribbon, die cut or a printable item you purchased from Creative Fabrica into the machine and turn the knob. Once the item is fed through, tear the adhesive, and peel off the top layer! Instant sticker without heat, electricity, or messy glues. Xyron offers different machine sizes up to 9” wide and their adhesive is acid-free and non-toxic.

Adhesive remover

Even though there are no “mistakes” in scrapbooking, just happy accidents, you may find it necessary to remove an item from your project. Use a liquid that safely breaks down and removes the adhesive without leaving a sticky residue, such as Un-Do®. It can be used on a variety of surfaces other than paper, making it a great addition to your crafting (or home) toolbox.

Many of these adhesives overlap one another in their purpose, so it’s not necessary to fill your toolbox with every single type of adhesive. It comes down to personal preference, so if you’re not satisfied with one particular type of adhesive, you have a variety to experiment with. Eventually, you’ll become “attached” to your favorites!

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