If you’re a DIYer, you have carpenter’s glue for bonding wood, an epoxy for metal-to-metal applications, and a superglue or silicone for repairing glass, but what about plastic? You undoubtedly have Gorilla Glue lying around. But will it work on plastic?
Gorilla Glue doesn’t work well on plastic. It’s an adhesive that works by creating a chemical bond using moisture, allowing it to expand into both surfaces. Since plastic isn’t permeable, the glue can’t create a strong bond between the plastic and another surface.
Read on to learn which type of Gorilla Glue may work for your plastic surfaces and projects, and which ones to avoid.
Does Gorilla Glue Stick to Plastics?
Gorilla Glue will stick to some plastics but not others because the adhesive is activated by water. Therefore, plastics that can’t absorb liquids don’t bond well with Gorilla Glue. Although the company has expanded its line of glues, none of them bond well with most plastics.
Gorilla Glue is considered a rapid-cure polyurethane glue. The technical term for it is cyanoacrylate. Polyurethane is a lot easier to say, so you’ll often hear it referred that way.
Cyanoacrylate adhesives cure rapidly, are solvent-free, and contain a single adhesive compound. Glues that come in two separate syringes contain an adhesive in one syringe and the hardener in the other, and they’re known as two-component adhesives. These adhesives have different uses and don’t dry in the 10-45 seconds that Gorilla Glue does.
The curing time on cyanoacrylate adhesives, like Gorilla Glue, is so rapid that even though it was developed in the 1950s, it took manufacturers nearly two decades to package them so they would remain liquid.
The Gorilla Glue manufacturers claim their glue will bond to almost anything. Still, there are some exceptions, which is why the company has expanded its line to include adhesives that bond to cyanoacrylates.
Adhesives, such as Gorilla Glue, have difficulty bonding to the following materials without additional ingredients:
- Porous substrates like wood and leather need polyurethane glues containing accelerators.
- Polyolefin plastics must be pre-treated.
- Teflon—the only adhesive that sticks to Teflon changes the chemical formula of the Teflon, so it isn’t sticking to Teflon.
Gorilla Glue doesn’t stick well to most plastics because cyanoacrylate creates a chemical bond between the glue and ions in water. Almost any surface has some moisture on it due to humidity, except for most plastics. Without moisture, the cyanoacrylates can’t create a bond.
The glue is meant to expand into the materials to create a strong bond. However, since it cannot expand into plastic, any bond it makes is weak.
This expansion explains why Gorilla Glue sticks to metal, stone, ceramics, and rubber, but not plastic.
Let’s take a look at which plastics the original formula works with and which require a specialized adhesive.
Which Gorilla Glue Is Best for Plastic?
The original Gorilla Glue claims to be suitable for plastics, except those with polyethylene and polypropylene. Unless you know whether the plastic you will work with is one of those, it’s impossible to tell if a formulation will successfully glue the materials.
So, what are polyethylene and polypropylene plastics? The most commonly used plastic is polyethylene, of which there are three types:
- Polyethylene Terephthalate. PETE or PET plastics are used for food and liquid containers, fibers in clothing, and combined with glass fibers to make engineering resins.
- High-Density Polyethylene. HDPE, made from petroleum, is used to make plastic bottles, piping, and plastic lumber.
- Low-Density Polyethylene. LDPE is used to manufacture containers, bottles, tubing, and laboratory equipment. In addition, most plastic bags are made with LDPE.
Polypropylene (PP) is often used in labeling and packaging. This rugged, white plastic has a high resistance to chemical changes.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is yet still another type of plastic. Along with being used for rigid PVC pipes, it’s also used to make bottles and non-food packaging. You probably carry some with you in your wallet since credit cards are made from this plastic.
Unfortunately, for fans of Gorilla Glue, most plastics that you’ll be working with are either polyethylene or polypropylene, and the company states on nearly every product that it won’t work on those plastics.
Here’s a quick rundown of how each of the glues performs on plastics.
Gorilla Glue Original Formula
This glue fills many needs for the DIYer and homeowner. It creates a strong bond instantly, only needs to be clamped for one hour, and is water-resistant. The original formula cured to a tan color, so the manufacturer has created White and Clear formulations.
- ORIGINAL GORILLA GLUE: The water activated polyurethane...
- 100% WATERPROOF: Doesn't break down when exposed to...
- VERSATILE: Easily bonds wood, stone, metal, ceramic,...
- INCREDIBLY STRONG: Expands 3 times into the materials...
According to the manufacturer: “Gorilla Glue will work well on many types of plastic; however, we do not recommend for use on polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene (PE) plastics or any type of rubber with high oil or plasticizer content.”
Gorilla Super Glue
Unlike Gorilla Glue, Gorilla Super Glue will form a seal without clamping or moisture. But unfortunately, it still does not bond well to plastics.
- Impact tough: unique rubber particles increase impact...
- Anti clog cap: keeps glue from drying out. It's Gorilla...
- Fast-setting: dries in 10-30 seconds, no clamping...
- Versatile: bonds plastic, wood, metal, ceramic, rubber,...
According to the manufacturer, Gorilla Super Glue is “Not recommended for use on polyethylene or polypropylene plastic or similar materials.”
This is a two-part epoxy, and you’ll recognize it by its double syringe. It’s the only Gorilla Glue that mentions a specific plastic it’ll work on. PVC sheets are often applied to plywood as a decorative layer. Gorilla Weld is the company’s other two-part adhesive, but it also doesn’t stick well to plastic.
- Strong, permanent, fast and gap-filling; great for...
- Best for tough repairs requiring a durable bond,...
- Dries clear; ideal for clean, easy finishing
- 6 minute set; plenty of repositioning time for the...
The manufacturer says “Gorilla Epoxy works well on PVC sheets, but is not recommended for use on PVC pipe or certain low surface energy plastics, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), or certain types of rubber with high oil or plasticizer content.”
How Do You Use Gorilla Glue on Plastic?
If you have no other glue handy, you need to know how to apply it to plastic. It won’t hold as well as another glue, but it can be a temporary fix at least.
To use Gorilla Glue on plastic, you need to gather a cleaning rag and some water, and ensure you have a way to clamp the parts together. People with sensitive skin should also opt for gloves. You’ll then need to clean and prepare the surface before applying the glue and clamping the parts together.
Here are the detailed steps you need to follow if you intend to use Gorilla Glue on plastic:
- Prepare the surfaces. Most surfaces must be clean, but since the glue needs something to expand into, use sandpaper to create a rough surface and then clean the surface.
- Use a damp cloth to wet one side without saturating the surface.
- Apply the Gorilla Glue sparingly to the dry surface.
- Clamp the surfaces together evenly and tightly. Depending on what is being glued, you might need to use a heavy object instead of a clamp. Rubber bands or tape can hold small items together.
- Wet glue that has squeezed out can be wiped off with a dry cloth. Sand, chisel, or scrape dried glue off.
How Long Does Gorilla Glue Take to Dry on Plastic?
It takes Gorilla Glue approximately 24 hours to dry and cure completely on plastic, even though it only takes about 1-2 hours for the glue to clamp and stick to the plastic’s surface.
This video tests Gorilla Glue Epoxy against several others, and the results support that the manufacturer’s glues aren’t ideal for plastics.
How Do I Get Gorilla Glue off My Hands?
To get Gorilla Glue off your hands, be patient and don’t try simply pulling it off the skin. Instead, you should soak the bonded area in warm soapy water, gently rubbing to loosen the glue until the glue comes off.
If you have acetone handy, you can use it to remove the glue. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label. Fingernail polish remover will also do the trick. Both of them will dry your hands out, so apply some moisturizer after using one of them.
Can I Use Gorilla Glue on Plastic Dishes?
Gorilla Glue shouldn’t be used on any items that will come in contact with food. If swallowed, contact poison control. The company provides first aid information on the Gorilla Tough website.
You shouldn’t use it on plastic toys either, even after the glue sets. Kids can’t always resist the urge to chew or suck on toys.
Related: Does Super Glue Work on Plastic?
Gorilla Glue does not work well on most plastics because its adhesive quality depends on the glue expanding and sinking into the materials. If you need to use Gorilla Glue, first sand the plastic surface so the glue has something to grab onto. But don’t expect the bond to be strong.