There is a wide range of adhesive technologies on the market, making it challenging to choose the right one for your application.

You need to keep in mind that adhesives come in different forms and chemistries, and each is formulated to suit a particular application.

From plasterboard adhesives to epoxy, picking the right adhesive comes down to the specific application involved and the environment in which it will be applied. Here are some aspects to evaluate how to make the best choice when it comes to adhesives.

Surface type

What surface do you want to apply the adhesive to? As you may already know, not all adhesives will work on every surface. For instance, Solvite wallpaper adhesive is ideal for hanging all paper types but may not be suitable for other applications, like carpentry finishing.

Generally, pressure-sensitive adhesives are ideal for most surfaces, while contact adhesives are ideal for demanding clamping applications. Some adhesives require more surface prep than others, including cleaning and smoothening the surface to ensure they adhere well. Hot melt glue sticks are well suited for surfaces like cardboard, wood, paper, and other porous materials.

Adhesive works by bonding to the top surface of materials, so it is best to understand the exact material and conditions you’re working with, so you can choose the right one.

Temperature exposure

Different environmental conditions impact how adhesives cure or perform over time, and temperature is one of the most critical elements. No matter how minimal, fluctuations in temperature can cause significant changes in adhesive cure speed and storage life.

Many organic adhesives have maximum operating temperatures, and their performance drops significantly when exposed to high temperatures for a long time. Thermosetting adhesives like phenolic, melamine, and formaldehyde resins have strong bonds and can resist higher temperatures. Silicone adhesives are flexible and have good resistance to high temperatures, hence they are ideal for marine and plumbing applications.

Generally, the curing of adhesives is faster at high temperatures and slower at lower temperatures. When choosing one, consider the temperature the adhesive will be exposed to during use, distribution, and storage.

Preferred cure speed

The adhesive you choose must have enough work-life or pot life to allow proper mixing, adhesive application, and connection of the bonded parts. This also largely depends on your application.

Adhesives with a faster curing speed or a work life of around five minutes or less are ideal for shorter cycle time production processes or smaller assemblies. In contrast, adhesives with a work life of 20 minutes or more are suitable for large assemblies that require more work life, for instance.

Surface prep or treatment

Some adhesives require more surface prep than others. For instance, structural adhesives need clean, rough, and dry surfaces for the highest bonding strength. Therefore, lighter abrasion and solvent cleaning of the surface or solvent cleaning and chemical etching come in handy. You may also have to perform adhesion tests to ensure adequate surface prep before applying the adhesive to the main surface.


Humidity can impact the appearance and quality of some adhesives like wallpaper adhesives. For instance, it may result in film formation in some curing agents or a foamy appearance in some adhesives. Although humidity may not impact some adhesives, you can be assured that it will negatively impact the bond strength if condensation is on top of the substrate.

Humidity also impacts the performance of the adhesive. For instance, acrylic adhesives are environmentally resistant but are more susceptible to moisture because they are water-based. It’s important to consider whether the adhesive will be exposed to humidity during application and distribution.

The bottom line

Adhesive testing is advisable before purchase and application because there is no guarantee that the adhesive will perform as you want it to. You can enlist the help of an expert to choose the right adhesive.