Best Glue to Use on Styrofoam

Dioramas, most commonly, are three-dimensional representations of a real-life scene or event. They can be fairly simplistic, such as a diorama of a storefront and street corner, or highly complex, as in a full-size museum representation of prehistoric life. While some can be built to full-size, the majority are built to scale – at a fixed fraction of real-life size.

Best Glue to Use on Styrofoam (Updated March, 2020)

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Editor’s Choice

Aleene's All Purpose Tacky Glue

1. Aleene’s

  • Best Features:
    – works on most fabrics and materials,
    – non-toxic,
    – dries clear,
    – easy clean-up
  • Item Volume (Oz.): 8
  • Color: Clear
  • Gripping/Drying Time: 1 hour / 24 hours

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Loctite PL Premium Polyurethane Construction Adhesive 10-Ounce Cartridge

2. Loctite Cartridge – 1390595

  • Best Features:
    – caulking gun application for larger products,
    – bonds to almost all materials,
    – waterproof and paintable
  • Item Volume (Oz.): 10/28
  • Color: Tan
  • Gripping/Drying Time: 1 hour / 24 hours

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Gorilla 5000408 Original Gorilla Glue, Waterproof Polyurethane Glue

3. Gorilla 5000408

  • Best Features:
    – very strong,
    – bonds most materials and surfaces,
    – waterproof,
    – expands during use
  • Item Volume (Oz.):
  • Color: Tan Brown
  • Gripping/Drying Time: 1 hour / 24 hours

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Mod Podge CS11303 Waterbase Sealer, Glue & Decoupage Finish

4. Mod Podge CS11303

  • Best Features:
    – all in one glue, sealer, finish;
    – water-based,
    – non-toxic,
    – soap and water cleanup,
    – good for porous materials
  • Item Volume (Oz.): 32
  • Color: Matte
  • Gripping/Drying Time: 20 min

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3M 78 Polystyrene Foam Insulation Spray Adhesive

5. 3M 78

  • Best Features:
    – non-toxic,
    – excellent for polystyrene and another crafting materials,
    – fast-drying
  • Item Volume (Oz.): 17.9
  • Color: Clear
  • Gripping/Drying Time: 30 sec / 15 mins

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Hot Glue Gun, TopElek Upgraded 15W/25W Dual Temp Mini Glue Gun with 30pcs Glue Sticks, High Temp Melt Glue Gun

6. TopElek Hot Glue Gun

  • Best Features:
    – set featuring a glue gun and 30-hot glue sticks.
    – glue works on multiple materials,
    – instant grip,
    – dries quickly,
    – other types of adhesives can be purchased separately
  • Item Volume (Oz.): 30 sticks D=0.28 in. L=3.93 in.
  • Color: Clear
  • Gripping/Drying Time: 20 mins

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Best for Mountain and Landform Formation

GREAT STUFF Gaps & Cracks 20 oz Insulating Foam Sealant

7. GREAT STUFF

  • Best Features:
    – paintable,
    – water-resistant bond,
    – adheres to wood, metal, masonry, glass & most plastics,
    – seals, fills and insulates gaps, holds and cracks,
    – can be sanded
  • Item Volume (Oz.): 20
  • Color: Ivory
  • Gripping/Drying Time: 15 mins /1 hour

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Best Styrofoam Glue Reviews

1. Aleene’s – Best Glue Styrofoam to Plastic

General impression

Originally developed by a florist back in the 1950s, this venerable glue works in a large variety of applications, with a large variety of materials. Its thick formula renders an instant grab between the two materials, and dries to touch in about an hour, and completely after twenty-four hours.

Usage and technical details

This non-toxic glue works with many different surfaces, including bonding styrofoam and most other plastic materials. It’s water-based for easy clean-up, and can even be dyed by using food colors. The tip of the eight-ounce bottle can be trimmed to give a custom-sized opening based on the job being done.

Best features

The thick consistency of the glue gives you a quick bond with good holding power, so you aren’t required to sit there, holding two pieces together for an hour. While not recommended for use in washable applications, it will bond virtually any two materials together quickly and tightly.

PROS:
  • This glue has been in use by crafters for decades
  • Good overall rating, and highly rated for versatility, value, and easy to clean
CONS:
  • Some issues with durability of the bottle, and the packaging materials used in shipments

Conclusion

This glue is excellent for styrofoam, and thereby diorama use. The thick consistency will fill the small pores in the styrofoam and give a strong bond to many other materials. We find it particularly good in bonding styrofoam to other thermoplastics, with a quick initial set and dry, and a solid, long-term bond when fully set.

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2. Loctite Cartridge – 1390595 – Best Glue for Styrofoam to Metal

General impression

Loctite is a global manufacturer of glues, adhesives, sealants, and other surface treatments, also in business since the 1950s. They have glues for both industrial and home use, and this particular glue is readily used in either application. Both waterproof and paintable, it has a very low volatile organic compound (VOC) rating and works equally well in hot or cold environments, indoor or outdoor applications.

Usage and technical details

This glue is in cartridge form, and will be used with a caulking gun, making it suitable for large projects. It will bond with most common construction materials, including foam and foam insulation of all sorts. Its described as three times stronger than ordinary construction adhesives.

Best features

It’s a premium, polyurethane-based adhesive, suitable for virtually all applications. One major use in the construction applications is bonding styrofoam to metal ductwork for installation, so it should be superior for that application in your diorama. It’s rated highly for adhesion.

PROS:
  • Fast cure, non-staining formulation, superior strength
  • Top five seller in hardware sealers
CONS:
  • Package size may be too large for some craft applications
  • Requires mineral spirits or another solvent for cleanup

Conclusion

Based on the universal acceptance of this adhesive in the construction trades, it is more than strong enough for craft and diorama applications. Suitable for interior or exterior applications, at any temperature, this adhesive is a good addition to your diorama craft supply cabinet.

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3. Gorilla 5000408 – Best Waterproof Glue for Styrofoam

General impression

If you’ve ever seen their commercials on television, you know this glue can stand up to about anything. It’s fully waterproof, and, while not recommended for rubber or paper, will bond with virtually everything else. It expands to three to four times the application amount and can be sanded, stained, or painted.

Usage and technical details

Available in multiple sizes from mini-tubes to thirty-six-ounce bottles, this is an excellent glue for outdoor diorama projects. Because of its expansion properties, a little bit goes a long way. The water-activated formula sets completely in 24 hours; some clamping may be needed until the initial set time is reached. Solvent clean up is required, and wearing gloves during use is highly recommended.

Best features

After application and dry time, you end up with an insanely strong, waterproof bond. This glue is part of a complete adhesive family and comes in multiple sizes so you can match it to the size of your job. A little bit goes a long way, so the smaller package sizes help eliminate waste.

PROS:
  • Top ten seller in both polyurethane and urethane adhesives
  • Highly rated for adhesion, versatility, and ease of use
CONS:
  • Very difficult to remove excess from hands, and larger sizes will dry out over time

Conclusion

This is a high-strength adhesive, and the waterproof properties make it an excellent choice for outdoor dioramas or other applications. Loctite brings almost seventy years of adhesive experience to the game, so their products are trusted and reliable. Strongly consider this glue for general applications, and definitely for waterproof applications.

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4. Mod Podge CS11303 – Best Glue Styrofoam to Wood

General impression

This multi-purpose product combines the properties of glue, sealer, and finish in one application. It bonds with multiple materials, showing good versatility and strength. It dries clear in as little as twenty minutes and can be sanded smooth and painted. Application can be made with a paintbrush or foam applicator, and it cleans with soap and water while still wet.

Usage and technical data

This non-toxic, non-flammable product comes in a large, thirty-two-ounce bottle. It’s a water-based product, so it should be stored at room temperature, and it can also be used as a sealant as well as an adhesive. It’s been a common use product in craft applications since the 1960s.

Best features

Many dioramas will use a combination of wood and styrofoam, often using the wood as a base, or as bracing. This product will seal the wood, improving moisture-resistance, while at the same time bonding to the styrofoam. It’s a top twenty seller in art glues and pastes.

PROS:
  • A long track record as a multi-purpose craft adhesive, highly rated for adhesion and ease of use
  • Wood sealing properties makes it perfect for dioramas using wood bases or braces
CONS:
  • Some complaints about the smell of the product during application

Conclusions

If your dioramas frequently use both wood and styrofoam, this is a great product for you. You can use it as a glue and sealer, eliminating the need to use two separate products in two separate applications. A real-time saver for you!

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5. 3M 78 – Best Spray Adhesive

General impression

This is another multi-purpose product is reported to bond virtually anything; it is non-toxic and dries clear, so it opens up use in multiple applications. It can handle small craft jobs right up to the larger repair job.

Usage and technical data

Boasting a five-year shelf life if containers are properly sealed, this adhesive has a wide application arena. It does require heated storage; if frozen, it will lose all adhesive properties. It dries clear and works especially well with porous surfaces like styrofoam.

Best features

Because it dries clear and virtually invisible, it is a great adhesive for craftwork, as a little excess or squeeze-out will not show on your project. It has an up to fifteen-minute set, produces a strong bond and completely sets in an hour. However, it can’t be diluted and used as a sealer or priming coat for especially porous materials like brick and concrete.

PROS:
  • Top selling Spray Adhesive for Styrofoam
  • Highly rated overall, and especially for adhesion, value, and easy clean-up
CONS:
  • Must protect from freezing; indoor storage required

Conclusion

This is an excellent overall spray adhesive, providing strong bonds across a wide variety of materials. We especially like it for assembly of styrofoam models, including planes, as it bonds quickly and firmly, dries clear, and can be painted.

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6. TopElek – Best Low Temp Hot Glue Gun for Styrofoam

General impression

Here, we move away from only glue and adhesive products to a system every dedicated crafter should own – an electric glue gun and the appropriate glue sticks. If you are working with styrofoam, a low-temperature glue gun is a must; too high temperatures will actually melt the plastic, releasing some fairly nasty decomposition products.

Usage and technical data

This gun has both high and low temperatures so that you can adjust the settings based on your crafting needs. The glue sticks provided are general purpose and will bond most materials, including styrofoam. Specialty glue sticks can also be purchased separately, including those designed for wood, fabric, and other applications. The set comes with an eighteen-month after-sale service warranty.

Best features

With the dual heat setting, this gun will work in multiple applications. Once the glue melts and the parts are joined, the glue cools and sets very quickly. The gun has a heat-resistant cover for improved user safety. Heating of the gun takes only one to three minutes.

PROS:
  • Highly rated for light weight, value, and ease of use; top twenty-five glue gun seller on Amazon
  • Gun stand and heat resistant cover provides extra safety for users’ lower temperature setting makes it child-friendly
CONS:
  • Customers comment on slow glue feed rates, not really designed and sized for large jobs

Conclusion

With the included glue sticks, this gun set is a great tool for a crafter working with styrofoam. The lower temperature setting will work perfectly well, without melting the styrofoam and emitting noxious fumes. Specific glue sticks for styrofoam applications would increase the performance of this glue gun even further.

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7. GREAT STUFF – Best Sealant for Mountain and Landform Formation

General impression

Diorama projects sometimes need incredible precision and detailed work. Sometimes, you also need something that will insulate or seal Styrofoam when used together with other materials, such as wood, plastic, or metal. That is when Dow Chemical 157901 foam glue comes in more than handy. The foam glue fills in any cracks or holes seamlessly, and the finish it leaves is extra smooth and paintable.

Usage and technical data

When you need to glue two surfaces together, or you are aiming to form a shape out of the foam glue – Dow Chemical 157901 would be your best bet. It has minimal expending so that you can shape it according to your liking, and if you are a diorama, a fan a feature like that counts. Besides, the dispenser is super easy in use. However, you should not forget about wearing gloves. When the glue dries out, it can also be painted, and that is a great plus, once again.

Best features

One of the best features of this particular kind of glue is a seamless application. What is more, you can fulfill anything that your diorama project requires. Be it sealing, filling, or creating details – all covered by one foam glue. Also, the glue dries insanely fast, and that means that you can proceed with updating your diorama project in no time!

PROS:
  • The price is more than fair
  • The dispenser is easy to use
  • The glue spays our easily
  • The dry-time is super-fast
  • The dried surface of the glue can be coated with paint
  • Foam glue can be used as a sealant as well
CONS:
  • Requires gloves to be worn in the process

Conclusion

To sum all up, it is safe to say that all the diorama fans will rejoice since this foam glue may be just what they need. It can glue almost two any surfaces. It can be painted over, not to mention that it dries fast, and it is more than affordable!

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Buyer’s Guide

In this part of our product review, we’ll discuss some of the key terms, specifications, and application information that will help you choose the right product for your craft, home improvement, or other repair projects. If you need additional or more specific information, we recommend visiting the manufacturer’s web site.

Grip time

Grip time

Grip time represents the period where the glue has begun to set, and the joined parts will hold together on their own without being held or clamped. While waiting for a full set, the parts can be moved around slightly, allowing you to make sure that they are properly positioned. Grip time can be under a minute for some glues (super-glue), or twenty to thirty minutes for most featured here.

Drying Time

Drying Time

This is the length of time that it takes the bond to become fully set. After the drying time is completed, the joint should be firm and immovable. In many cases, drying time will take up to twenty-four hours.

Water-Based vs. Solvent-Based Glues

Water-Based vs. Solvent-Based Glues

Some glues start with water as their base, while others start with petroleum-based solvents. Each has advantages, and the application you plan should drive your decision. Solvent-based glues may have more odor than water-based, and be more difficult to clean up, requiring a solvent. Depending on the type of solvent used in manufacture, some glues may even degreed styrofoam rather than joining it. Water-based glues are typically user-friendly, with easy cleanup. They do freeze, however, which renders them useless if improperly stored.

Consistency

Consistency

Your application for the glue should drive your decision on the consistency of it. For instance, thicker glues are handier for many craft applications, as it makes it easier to set the pieces for the initial drying time. Thinner, more eatery glues are better for large applications, particularly those that require the glue to be brushed out or rolled out to cover a large area. As with most products, you can usually find a middle-ground adhesive that will serve both ends of the spectrum reasonably well.

Shelf-life

Shelf-life

There are few things more aggravating than being in the middle of a project and finding out that the bottle of glue you have is completely dried out. Shelf-life, or how long a product can perform at optimal levels, is key here. If you are a dedicated crafter that goes through multiple bottles of glue every month, shelf-life is not so relevant for you. If you need glue for a project twice a year, shelf-life matters. You should be able to get specific shelf-life information at the manufacturer’s web site.

Storage

Storage

In many cases, shelf-life can be affected by how the glue is stored. Water-based glues (and even some solvent-based) must be kept from freezing; otherwise, the bonding power is weakened or completely eliminated. Bottles have to be tightly sealed after use, or the remaining glue will be dried out very quickly. Some glues may even have expiration dates on the bottle; this is always good information to look for when purchasing adhesives.

FAQ

1) Will hot glue gun melt styrofoam?

In short, yes. The high-temperature setting on a glue gun may indeed melt styrofoam, which can then have the nasty side effect of releasing toxic fumes. We recommend using either using a glue with a low melt point, specifically designed for styrofoam, or use a glue gun with a low-temperature setting, similar to the one we have reviewed here. Optionally, see the detailed instructions on conversion of a high-temperature glue gun to an adjustable temperature gun.

2) Does super glue work on styrofoam?

While there may be a couple of exceptions out there, in general terms, super glue is not a good adhesive for use with styrofoam. Instead of bonding it, the solvents and chemicals in super glue will actually attack and melt the styrofoam. There are several other types of glue that are fully compatible with styrofoam; six of them are reviewed here.

3) What glue works best on styrofoam?

There are many good glues for use with styrofoam; we’ve reviewed six of them here. However, in our opinion, there is no one best glue for styrofoam. Each has specific properties that make them better or worse for a specific application. One may have a very short grip time, while another may have a stronger bond or shorter drying time. Some glues work better than others when gluing fabric to styrofoam; others work better for plastics. Some dry clear; some don’t. Our advice is to select the glue best for your application. You may be able to find this on the manufacturer’s web site or on web sites specific to dioramas and crafting that give user recommendations.

4) How to glue styrofoam to cardboard?

Rather than provide answers to each of these questions individually, we’re going to direct you to an excellent informational website that will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about gluing with styrofoam. There is complete information on adhesive selection, gluing different materials together with styrofoam (including gluing styrofoam to styrofoam), how to apply the glue, and all followed by a huge user question and answer section. This page should answer any and all your questions about gluing styrofoam.

Conclusion

Crafting, in general, is a relaxing and rewarding hobby, and making dioramas in specific is even more so. Starting out with a multitude of different materials, and cutting, combining, and assembling them into a scaled version of real-life is an amazing display of talent. And yet, your success is not based on just your vision and talent. Without the proper adhesive and adhesive techniques, your work of art could completely collapse into a pile of plastics and fabrics.

We hope this review has given you some deeper insight into the six adhesives featured here. We’ve laid out concise, accurate information on performance, specifications, and usage, and applications to help you select the right adhesive for your craftwork. We’ve also highlighted some web sites for you to find additional information that can help you no matter your level of experience. This, combined with your special talents, will lead you to some beautiful artworks. Happy crafting!

Maria
Maria
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