Which is better, Liquid Nails or wood glue? It depends on what you need to stick together. And there are times when Liquid Nails is more convenient, but wood glue will give a stronger bond, long-term. So let’s look at Liquid Nails vs wood glue.
Construction adhesives like Liquid Nails give a strong bond with quick grab, and they work well on dissimilar surfaces. But for some applications, wood glue is better, especially if you use a premium wood glue.
When Liquid Nails is better than wood glue
Construction adhesives like Liquid Nails are better than wood glue, or most other adhesives for that matter, in certain applications. These applications include:
- Gluing nonporous surfaces
- Situations where clamping is impractical
- Applications requiring fast grab and set-up time
- Situations where there might be gaps
Construction adhesives are good for nonporous surfaces because they don’t have to soak into the surface in order to stick to them.
When clamping is impractical, construction adhesives are also a good choice. Most glues work best when you clamp the pieces together until the glue sets up. When clamping is impractical, construction adhesives can let you glue things you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Construction adhesives are also great when you need a fast grab and set-up time. When you smear some construction adhesive on a surface and then stick another surface to it, you may need to hold them together with hand pressure for a minute or so, but after that, they’ll stick together on their own. It will take a while for it to reach full strength, but you can move on to the next step at that point. And sometimes you don’t even need the hand pressure. That’s an advantage over not only wood glue, but most other adhesives.
Finally, construction adhesives do a very good job of filling gaps if your parts don’t fit together tightly. The adhesive probably won’t be as strong as the materials you’re sticking together, but it won’t let go.
You may find my writeup on how to use Liquid Nails helpful.
When wood glue is better
That said, there are definitely times when wood glue is the better choice. Any time you are gluing wood to wood, or wood to another porous surface, wood glue will do a better job. When you glue wood to wood and clamp it, once the glue is fully cured, the repair is as strong as the wood itself. If you pull it back apart with force, the wood will probably split somewhere other than where you glued it. Especially if you use a good wood glue. Elmer’s Wood Glue is actually pretty good. Titebond is extremely good, and there are special formulas, Titebond II and Titebond III, for exterior use. Here’s the difference between Titebond II and III. Which is better? You’ll be surprised. Even Elmer’s Glue-All works well. Just avoid using Elmer’s School Glue. Here’s why.
So if you’re gluing wood to wood and can afford to wait, you’re much better off using wood glue, especially if you can clamp the parts together and can wait 24 hours. If you can’t clamp the parts together, but you can attach them with screws or nails, do that. Screwing and gluing has the same effect as clamping, and you can remove the screws afterward without affecting the strength of the bond.
And even though you can store construction adhesive after you open it, it doesn’t store nearly as well as wood glue does. A bottle of wood glue can keep for years on your workbench as long as you close it up after each use.
I like construction adhesive, and I buy at least one tube of it every time I rehab a house. But I use a lot more wood glue.