When you need wood glue, there are a lot of good choices you can use. Maybe too many. Titebond is a popular choice, but there are three different kinds at three different price points. What’s the difference? Why buy the original vs Titebond 2? Why buy Titebond 2 vs 3?
Both Titebond 2 and Titebond 3 are for outdoor use. The differences you’re most likely to notice are that Titebond 3 dries about half as fast and can work at a minimum temperature of 45 degrees vs 55 degrees.
Original vs Titebond 2 vs 3
Based on the number of reviews on the home improvement stores’ web sites, it sure seems like more people opt for the more expensive glue, thinking they’re getting the best. But are they getting the best? Are they wasting their money?
The major difference between the original-formula Titebond and its two more expensive counterparts, which the labels pitch as Premium and Ultimate, is how they hold up to the elements. The original Titebond is all you need for indoor use. It’s more than strong enough. When you glue two pieces with Titebond and allow it to dry completely before disturbing it, the bond is stronger than the wood, regardless of whether you buy the bottle that costs $2.78 or the bottle that costs $5.97.
There’s no reason to pay twice as much when you’re building shelves or something similar.
The more expensive variants hold up outdoors. You use those when you’re going to be gluing up something that will be exposed to the wind and rain and extreme temperatures. For indoor projects, the original is an excellent choice.
Advantages of Titebond 2
The biggest advantage of Titebond 2 is cost. You’ll pay almost $3 for an 8-ounce bottle of Titebond, and twice as much for an 8-ounce bottle of Titebond 3. Titebond 2 comes in between, at around $3.50. You pay a premium for it, but only a slight premium. Titebond 3 costs 42% more than Titebond 2, but that’s not the only trade off with it.
Titebond 2 sets up more quickly. Depending on the project, that’s either a good thing or a bad thing. On smaller items, you probably want the glue to start setting up more quickly, that way you can get the project done faster. On larger projects, you may want more time to be able to move parts around to line up each side, then come back and screw or clamp each side.
But the other advantage of Titebond 2 is it’s less likely to discolor your work. If you don’t wipe up all the squeeze-out with Titebond 2, it’s possible no one will notice. With Titebond 3, you’d better use some of that longer cure time to get that joint perfectly clean.
It’s entirely possible a lot of people are paying more money for a product that doesn’t suit their needs as well.
Advantages of Titebond 3
The major advantage of Titebond 3, except when you need more drying time, is the application temperature. Titebond 3 works down to 45 degrees. Titebond 2 won’t work at temperatures below 55 degrees. So if you’re doing projects in the late fall or early spring, you may need the increased temperature range of Titebond 3.
Titebond 3 gives you 8-10 minutes before you have to push your pieces together, and another 10-15 minutes that you can move things around. If you disturb the joint after that time, you may cause it to fail. Titebond 2 gives you 3-5 minutes, followed by another 5-10.
Keep in mind temperature affects all of these times. These times are at 70 degrees. At 90 degrees, those work times will be about half that. And if you’re taking advantage of Titebond 3’s ability to work at 45 degrees, its work time will be double that.
Titebond 3 claims higher bonding strength, but realistically, either type’s bond is more than adequate. If you’re going to notice the difference in strength, the type of wood you use makes a bigger difference than the glue.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.