Liquid Nails or Wood Glue: Which Bonds Better?

Both of these adhesives are essential for Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts. But they are used for different purposes even though they each have long-lasting bonding properties. If you are working on a construction or woodwork project, you may be wondering: Liquid Nails versus wood glue: which bonds better?

Liquid Nails is stronger because it is formulated for bonding in construction compared to wood glue which only works in woodwork. Liquid Nails is used for heavy tasks like tile and bathroom wall repairs. On the other hand, wood glue is ideal for holding wooden joints, pieces, and panels.

This comparison guide of these two adhesives will help you make an informed choice next time you choose one or the other for your project.

The Difference Between Liquid Nails And Wood Glue

Liquid Nails is a specific brand of heavy-duty construction adhesives. According to the company, their adhesives are formulated for extreme bonding, including:

  • All surface bonding
  • Interior projects bonding
  • Heavy-duty construction bonding
  • Extreme heavy duty bonding

On the other hand, wood glue is a general term used to refer to all woodwork adhesives. It is not a specific brand.

Wood glues come in a synthetic or animal adhesive form. Animal wood glues come from animal products like boiled hides. They have a decent amount of adhesiveness, but they are preferred in specialist industries like making musical instruments or conservation and restoration of certain wood pieces.

They are not as durable as synthetic glues.

Synthetic wood glues offer better performance compared to animal glues. They are more popular and available in the market. These glues come in the form of:

  • PVA (Polyvinyl acetate)
  • Epoxy resin
  • Polyurethane
  • Cyanoacrylate
  • Aliphatic resin (It works like PVA only with a better initial grip)

All the above are used to bond wood pieces as well as other materials.  

Liquid Nails vs. Wood Glue: A Comparison In Bonding Performance

1. On Wood:

a) Liquid Nails On Wood

Liquid Nails work well on bonding wood pieces together. It bonds all the typical pieces of wood found in woodwork.

However, you must use the correct liquid nails product that is specifically for woodworking. That is the Liquid Nails® Adhesive wood Projects Repair Adhesive (LN-206).

This product is non-drip. So, it will not form vertical streaks down the piece of wood. Also, you can stain it, paint it and sand it. Unlike other Liquid Nails products that take up to 24 hours to dry, the LN-206 dries fast in addition to bonding wood pieces quickly.

The hold of this adhesive is firm and permanent.

Remember to use Liquid Nails with non-porous wood for the best results. That means the wood should not be in its raw form. Make sure it is varnished for the glue to perform best.

b) Wood Glue On Wood

The best wood glue to use when gluing wood pieces together is epoxy resin. That is because epoxy resin like the Gorilla 2 Part Epoxy bonds fast, and it holds even when the wood encounters high temperatures or saltwater.

This wood glue also offers a cleaner finish as it looks almost invisible. Epoxy resin comes in two tubes containing hardener and resin. If you mix the two, you must get the ratio right. If you don’t, the epoxy resin will not bond properly.

PVA, which is also called carpenter’s glue, is excellent for raw wood. It works well when joining wood to wood because it permeates wood fibers for better adhesion. The Titebond 5064 Original Wood Glue is considered an excellent PVA glue.

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Both PVA and Epoxy resin glues are permanent. They are easy to clean and dry very quickly.

The Verdict

Both adhesives are permanent, but Liquid Nails is firmer. It can bond heavier pieces of wood with exceptional success. Epoxy resin and PVA are a good fit for gluing lighter wood pieces.

2. On Metal:

a) Liquid Nails On Metal

Liquid Nails can glue metal. The glue bonds metal or aluminum strips to other surfaces. 

For example, using this glue, you can bond metal to other areas of your construction like the sink, countertops, cabinetry, door and window frames, among others. These are areas that typically can’t take nails without damaging them.

The best Liquid Nails for metal bonding is the Liquid Nails Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive LN-901.

It is waterproof. So, when rain hits the door and window frames, this adhesive will not fall apart. 

Also, around the sink and countertops, the glue remains intact despite the constant water spills.

b) Wood Glue On Metal

Most PVA wood glue will not work on metal because such PVA needs a porous surface like raw wood to work. Since metal isn’t a porous material, this glue will not be able to adhere.

However, polyurethane-based wood glue and cyanoacrylate-based wood glue will work on metal. They will bond metal to metal and metal to other materials.

After applying the polyurethane glue, you need to use some heat for the adhesive to set. But before bonding two non-porous surfaces like metal to metal, apply some water onto the surfaces. The moisture activates polyurethane wood glue like Gorilla glue.

On the other hand, if you are using cyanoacrylate glue like Gorilla Super Glue, you will not need heat. Just hold the glued parts in place until they bond. Also, there is no need to moisten the metal.

Epoxy resin also bonds metal, but you need to clamp the metal bits together.

Despite being able to hold metal together, the bond of these wood glues is not long-lasting. Heat, water, and other elements can work overtime to weaken their holds on metal.

The Verdict

Liquid Nails comes out on top when it comes to bonding metal to metal or any other material. That is because Liquid Nails require non-porous surfaces to work well, and metal is not porous. Also, no clamping is needed, and the hold can withstand temperature changes or the presence of moisture.

3. On Concrete:

a) Liquid Nails On Concrete

Liquid Nails offers a product specifically for sealing and bonding concrete and mortar. The Liquid Nails Concrete & Mortar Repair (CR-805) is water-resistant and is applicable indoors and outdoors. It is an acrylic compound that also contains silicone.

This glue is useful in bonding materials like wood and metal to concrete.  

However, the conditions need to be optimal for the bonding to take hold. That means the area should be dust-free, clean, and dry for the concrete and wood to bond. The glue will bond the wood to concrete at a temperature of 40 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even if the wood itself expands and shrinks, the Liquid Nails glue will stay put. But the wood may warp and twist or bend.

b) Wood Glue On Concrete

Both epoxy resin and polyurethane glue can bond wood to concrete. These glues offer a permanent bond once they dry.

The best part of using these glues is that they dry into a plastic-like, waterproof consistency that seeps into the wood. That offers a water-resistant barrier against moisture and humidity that causes the wood to warp or shrink. As a result, wood that has been bonded to the concrete using epoxy and polyurethane will avoid being twisted or bent.

According to manufacturers of the original Gorilla Glue, this product can expand three times into the bonding material, forming a durable bond.

The Verdict

Epoxy and polyurethane wood glues come out on top because they bond the wood to the concrete and seep into the wood, making it resistant to the elements.

Unlike the wood glues, Liquid Nails doesn’t protect the wood. That leaves the wood vulnerable to the elements, which in turn compromises the bonding. The wood will disintegrate over time. Also, if you don’t apply Liquid Nails to a well-prepared surface that is dry, clean, and dust-free, it will become brittle over time.

4. On Plastic:

a) Liquid Nails On Plastic

Being a multi-purpose adhesive, Liquid Nails will bond plastic to other materials like wood and metal. However, the plastic must be the rigid, non-porous type.

Liquid Nails LN-207 Clear Small Projects Silicone Adhesive works for bonding plastic to other surfaces.

If the plastic is porous, the Liquid Nails glue may not bond properly.

b) Wood Glue On Plastic

The standard PVA will not work effectively to bond plastic to another surface. However, epoxy resin can do the job on most plastics, while polyurethane will work on some plastics.

However, the plastics have to be porous for these glues to work

Unfortunately, these wood glues will not work effectively on plastics containing polypropylene, silicone, Teflon, or polyethylene. These specific plastics have poor bonding properties.

The Verdict

Since Liquid Nails and wood glues are applicable with only certain plastics, you can use them interchangeably.

Each glue offers different levels of bonding depending on the plastic you use them on. In this case, none of the glues wins over the other.

5. On Tiles

a) Liquid Nails On Tiles

Liquid Nails FUZE-IT adhesive is an all-surface bonding glue. It can be used to bond tiles to almost any surface, including plywood, wood, green board, drywall, glass, MDF, metal, mirrors, and particleboard.

It is a low emitting material meaning it has very little odor. You can use it in your living space with little disruption.

This glue offers a long-lasting bond that will hold securely. And this Liquid Nails holds even in extreme temperatures of both heat and cold.

Not only is it compatible with tiles, but also with granite, marble, laminate, ceramic, and rubber. These are materials that are interchangeable with tiles. 

Within 15 seconds, this glue takes hold and begins to bond.

b) Wood Glue On Tiles

Wood glue will not bond ceramic tiles to the different surfaces for long.

For example, tiles do not have the right texture for the epoxy resin to adhere. Even after sanding, the tile’s surface doesn’t take to the epoxy bonding.

The same applies to all the other wood glues.

The Verdict

Liquid Nails works best with tiles because it adheres to the tile’s smooth surface easily. Tile is also not porous, so Liquid Nails adhere better. Wood glue, on the other hand, is ineffective on tiles and cannot sustain the bond.

Is Liquid Nails Stronger Than Wood Glue?

Liquid Nails are far stronger and more effective than wood glue, as shown in the comparison above.

It is also more versatile in application compared to various brands of wood glue. Epoxy resin and polyurethane wood glues do a good job, but they are limited in application and strength.

Remember, Liquid Nails is a construction adhesive, and that makes it stronger.

Overall Comparison Table

Liquid NailsWood Glue
Dries slowlyDries quickly
Versatile applicationLimited application
Advanced bondingModerate bonding
Hard to clean afterEasier to clean
Not safe to use in poor ventilationSafer to use even without ventilation

How To Use Liquid Nails

  • When using Liquid Nails, load the tube into a caulk gun. Start by slicing off the tip of the tube and pierce the foil inside if there is any.
  • Next, push on the caulk gun’s release mechanism and pull the rod backward. Load the tube and pull on the trigger until you ensure the Liquid Nails tube can’t fall out.
  • To use the adhesive, lay the pieces that need gluing on a flat surface.
  • Pull the caulk gun trigger until you see glue begin to ooze out. Keep pulling the trigger and apply the glue in a zigzag manner.
  • Take the pieces and stick them together. Hold them in place for a minute or two until you feel the glue grab. Some people like to hold the two pieces together until the glue dries. If that is your preference, place a heavy item on top of the pieces to hold them down as the glue dries or clamping.
  • Make sure that you pull on the release and pull the rod backward again. That will release the pressure on the tube and stop the glue from oozing. It is safe to remove the tube from the caulk gun.
  • Once you open a tube of Liquid Nails, you cannot reseal it. But you can use a screw into the tube’s top to keep the adhesive from drying quickly.

A big enough deck screw will fit into the hole tightly enough to prevent air and moisture from entering. Use a screwdriver to drive the screw into the top of the tube.

Keep the tube in the basement where it is not susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Anywhere else in the house, including the garage, is prone to changes in temperature. Use the tube of Liquid Nails within weeks of opening to avoid it drying out completely.

How To Use Wood Glue

If you are working with epoxy resin, you have to get the mixture right. The glue comes with mixing instructions. Make sure you use a clean container for the mixing.

The other wood glues do not come in two parts. So, you do not have to worry about mixing them. They all come with a syringe-like mouth to help dispense the glue without making a mess. 

The following steps apply when using wood glues:

  • Clean the surfaces you are gluing together. Also, make sure you dry them completely.
  • Cut the top part of the syringe to allow the glue to ooze out.
  • Turn the top part upwards and press the tube to release the air trapped inside the tube.
  • For the epoxy resin, mix the resin and hardener in a cup before applying. The rest of the glues go directly onto the pieces that need bonding. 
  • Clamping may be required to keep the pieces together until they dry completely.
  • The good news is that most wood glue can last for years and still be usable. However, check to see that it is not expired or unusable. If the consistency is slippery or watery, it is not usable.

Liquid Nails and Wood glue should be a must-have in your toolbox if you are a serious DIYer. They may work differently, but they come in handy in enhancing your wood and construction work.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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