Liquid Nails Or Wood Glue: Which Is Best For Your Home Improvement Project

If you want to join two pieces of material together without messing with nails or screws, you might turn to the far easier option of a strong adhesive. Wood glue and Liquid Nails are two popular options known for their bonding strength and durability. While slightly more expensive than physical nails, both wood glue and Liquid Nails cost about $3 to $10 a bottle, making it possible for you to buy both to have on-hand for anything from basic home improvement projects every homeowner should know how to do to larger DIYs. 

There is an added convenience and versatility of using adhesives over traditional fasteners, but it isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. A novice might consider the two to be interchangeable, but each has its unique pros and cons depending on the home improvement task at hand. Liquid Nails provides the strongest adhesion for construction and mixed materials, but wood glue is best when strictly working with wood. There are also considerations like the drying conditions and the desired bond permanence when deciding what type of adhesive is right for you. Here is a complete breakdown of Liquid Nails versus wood glue to help you determine which is best for your project.

When to use Liquid Nails

Liquid Nails is a very strong type of adhesive that can create a permanent bond with wood, metal, concrete, plastic, and other building materials. Its versatility in bonding various materials makes it perfect for when you are working on a project that requires gluing together two different materials. Installing crown molding, securing subfloors, completing DIY crafts, and repairing broken objects are all situations when you'd want to use Liquid Nails because of the mixed materials.

This kind of adhesive also has a volume to it, meaning that it doesn't dry completely flat and can fill small gaps and irregularities in surfaces, creating a more solid bond. Its ability to strongly connect two things that might not fit together perfectly makes it perfect for any type of repair project.

While this might sound like a wonder product, there are a few considerations before you start gluing. Liquid Nails has a minimum cure time of 24 hours. If you are in a rush or working on a project that has multiple steps, you will have to pause and wait at least full day before the bond is secure. Once dry, this bond is really, really sturdy. Which is great, unless you make a mistake or change your mind and want to redo it. Depending on the type of glue you buy, it will likely also require a caulk gun, which is an added expense if you don't already own one.

When to use wood glue

As the name would suggest, you should use wood glue when working with wood. It is specifically designed for bonding wood to wood, making it perfect for any type of joinery such as edge gluing, doweling, and biscuit joining. If you are making any type of wooden craft or decoration, this should also be your first choice of adhesive. 

It dries quickly, in about 30 minutes, so you can get on with your DIY project, but it does take 24 hours to fully cure. While it creates a strong bond, it won't be as rigid as Liquid Nails, giving you a little more flexibility if you have to change up your project plans. It also can be wiped away with a damp rag before it's fully dry, allowing you to apply liberally and later clean up any excess. 

The major downside of wood glue is that it doesn't perform as well if you are trying to adhere wood to a different material, especially a non-porous surface like metal or plastic. It dries completely flat, which is a major benefit for any precision woodworking, but it won't fill in any gaps. This means it works best if the two pieces you are trying to fit together already have a well-fitting bond. Both wood glue and Liquid Nails are affordable and effective tools that have their own benefits, and it is likely that you will end up using both in your DIY projects.