Liquid Nails vs. Wood Glue: What’s Better for My Project?

Liquid Nails vs. Wood Glue Difference

If you’re planning a project that will require gluing items together, you may be wondering which is product is better: wood glue or Liquid Nails.

There are some important things to know about the difference between these two products, one of them being that Liquid Nails is a brand name product that involves a number of different adhesives for construction, whereas wood glue refers just to the type of glue and encompasses several brands.

Below, we’ll explain what wood glue and Liquid Nails are, as well as their uses, costs, and differences.

We will also take a look at which one is stronger, so you have a better idea of the two and can choose the proper one for your specific job.

What is Liquid Nails?

Liquid Nails is a brand-name product that encompasses heavy-duty construction adhesives that are available in various formulas.

One of the most important reasons that Liquid Nails is so popular and versatile is the way it is compatible with bonding various nonporous materials.

It is great for construction purposes and making repairs at the house as well.

Liquid Nails create a secure bond that can promote both similar and dissimilar surfaces.

After it has been applied, it makes a remarkably strong bond. Once it has dried, it offers a super long-lasting hold.

– Benefits –

  • Works on wet or dry timber
  • Long-lasting life
  • Paintable
  • Adjusts to variations in temperatures
  • Great for construction uses
  • Large range of choices in formula

– Drawbacks –

  • Difficult to clean up
  • Requires petroleum jelly or oil to get it off your skin
  • Strong, toxic flammable fumes may be an issue during the drying process
  • Extrudes during compression even if it is spread thinly

What is Wood Glue?

Wood glue is a kind of adhesive that is mostly used to bond pieces of wood together, though it also suits materials other than wood.

Wood glue comes in a variety of brand names and styles, each with formulas meant for specific uses.

The kinds of wood glue include polyvinyl acetate, epoxy resin, polyurethane, carpenter’s glue and super glue.

This kind of adhesive dries swiftly, though it can take an entire day to cure to its full strength.

Once the glue has dried, though, it falls short in strength compared to Liquid Nails.

– Benefits –

  • Low to no odor
  • Easy to clean and to remove from your skin
  • Water resistant
  • Fast drying
  • Non-toxic
  • Various formula options
  • Ideal for crafts, furniture and DIY projects

– Drawbacks –

  • Inability to use exterior-grade products inside
  • Different woods may need specific formulas

The Difference Between Liquid Nails and Wood Glue

Wood glue and Liquid Nails both stick two materials together, but other than that, they can be quite different.

Liquid Nails is, itself, a brand name of adhesives for construction, while wood glue is an umbrella term that refers to various kinds of construction adhesives.

Below are some other differences between the two.

1- Cleanup

The process of cleaning up with both Liquid Nails and wood glue is quite different.

Liquid Nails is trickier both on surfaces and on the skin.

With wood glue, you can just clean it off using soap and water even if it is already dried, or just peel it away.

You might still notice some stickiness after the glue has been removed, but cleaning it thoroughly with soap should get rid of that feeling.

In many cases, you can also remove dried or wet wood glue or residue that might have come out of the bonded joint.

On the contrary, cleaning Liquid Nails from surfaces and skin is harder than it is with wood glue.

If your brand of Liquid Nails is latex-based and still wet, you can rinse it off your skin.

If it is solvent-based, you’ll instead need to use petroleum jelly or mineral oil to remove it.

2- Cost

When it comes to purchasing the adhesives, you will end up spending more money if you are shopping online for smaller quantities as opposed to buying large gallons.

However, smaller quantities tend to be less expensive in stores.

Wood glue costs more than a lot of construction adhesives; you may spend anywhere from $3 to $20 on wood glue, while Liquid Nails ranges in price from $2 to $40.

3- Cure Time

When you work with adhesives such as Liquid Nails and wood glue, you’ll have to take the drying time into consideration.

You’ll also want to think about the curing time of each product, which is how long it takes the glue to reach its maximum strength once it’s dried.

4- Drying Time

The drying times of these two products are also quite different.

Wood glue is better for projects where two materials need to bond together sooner rather than later.

When you use wood glue, you’ll need to put pressure on the joined materials for at least a minute to help them adhere to each other.

After that, you’ll have to wait for another 15 to 30 minutes to allow the glue to thoroughly dry.

Liquid Nails usually need about 15 minutes to reach its top strength.

After you apply Liquid Nails to the two pieces, you’ll have to use a clamp or other similar item to keep the pressure on the joints until they have dried. This can take up to 24 hours.

Wood glue will usually dry and cure more quickly than Liquid Nails.

After the wood glue has dried, it can take a whole day to cure. Up until the glue is cured, the joints can still be susceptible to stress.

If you add any extra weight, the bonded joint could break.

Liquid Nails take longer to dry and even longer to be fully cured.

You have to keep the joints pressed together for the entire time it takes to dry in order to make sure they mold together.

You can then take the clamp away after 20 hours, though it can take an additional six days for Liquid Nails to cure completely.

Much like wood glue, you can’t put stress on the joints adhered with Liquid Nails until the glue has completely cured.

5- Holding Weight

The weight that Liquid Nails is capable of holding will change from product to product.

Because many of these products are specific to certain kinds of projects, such as subflooring, molding, paneling, decks, and drywall, you’ll need to check the psi.

The psi of the various formulas will reflect the strength and weight potential of any given material.

Wood glue has a psi strength between 3,600 and 4,000, meaning that the strength of the bond is able to handle high levels of force without taking on damage.

6- Safety

Wood glue is generally considered to be the safer product when considered in all available categories and factors.

Though there are different types of wood glues and just as many brands, all formulas have non-toxic ingredients.

There are some kinds of wood glue that are even rated food-safe, meaning they can be used on items that may come into contact with beverages or food.

The non-toxic, zero VOC nature of wood glue ensures there is no need for you to take any significant safety precautions. For this reason, it is well suited for use by anyone, anywhere.

Conversely, Liquid Nails poses a higher level of risk when using it.

This makes it especially important to follow any safety protocols laid out.

Furthermore, solvent-based adhesives like Liquid Nails are more dangerous than ones that are latex-based, as the latter contains minimal toxic fumes.

The formula may call for proper ventilation and airflow when you work with Liquid Nails inside a building as opposed to outside.

Opening windows, for instance, will let fresh air circulate so that the toxic fumes can be pulled out. Turning on a fan can generate a similar effect.

You might also want to wear gloves to prevent Liquid Nails from coming into contact you’re your skin.

Consider wearing safety goggles to protect your eyes and a respirator mask over your nose and mouth to prevent inhalation of the fumes.

In some instances, you might need to leave the area until the adhesive has fully cured and the fumes are gone.

During the drying and curing time of solvent-based Liquid Nails, the fumes that it generates are not only hazardous to your health but also quite flammable.

Ventilating the area will reduce the risk of fire as well.

7- Shelf Time

Shelf time refers to how long a product will remain functional after it has been opened.

All products come with a date that is set by the manufacturer which you should note.

Even so, the shelf life can sometimes extend well past this date. Liquid Nails has a shorter shelf life when compared to wood glue.

While it is possible to use Liquid Nails a few years after the best by date, many pros will recommend that you use it within a year after it is opened.

Products that go past the manufacturer’s recommended expiration date could have solvents that begin to separate or harden, making them unusable.

This can happen even if it’s never been opened.

Wood glue usually has a two-year shelf life when unopened.

That said, so long as the glue remains in a fluid state, it can be used no matter what its age may be.

8- Strength

Comparing strength, in many cases, stronger chemical adhesives like Liquid Nails would be the preferred glue.

Due to its strength, if you attempt to adhere to two joints using Liquid Nails, there is a higher chance of it breaking at another point than when using wood glue.

9- Uses

Liquid Nails has various formulas that you can use on different types of materials like plywood, foam, leather, ceramic, metal, and glass.

On the other hand, wood glue is better for wood projects, though it can also be used on porcelain, metal, and plastic.

10- VOC Levels

VOC, or volatile organic compounds, is something to pay attention to.

Liquid Nails contain high amounts of volatile chemicals, which in turn, release toxic fumes while drying.

On the other hand, wood glue tends to have less volatile chemicals if any at all, so it can be safely used indoors in most cases.

You can find some formulas of Liquid Nails that have no VOC content if you are set on using this brand indoors.

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