When it comes to upholstery, your choice of adhesive (i.e., type, brand, ingredients, etc.) can be the difference between a beautiful finished product and a nightmare.
That said, with so many options available, it’s important to have an understanding of the different types of adhesives, their applications, and what makes the best ones stand out.
Types of Upholstery Adhesive
Artistry, skill, the type of fabric, and the adhesive you use all play a critical role in the finished product. Whether you’re interested in securing a long-lasting bond or maintaining the quality of the fabric, the adhesive you work with has a lot of implications.
We've broken down the most commonly used types in upholstery and their applications to help you navigate the world of adhesives. Generally, the most common types include:
- Fabric Glue
- Adhesive Fabric Tape
- Vinyl Cement
- Contact Adhesive
- Foam Adhesive
- Spray Adhesive
Differences between glues, adhesive tapes, vinyl cement, and contact adhesives.
The term “adhesive” encompasses all types of substances and materials used for bonding. Glues come in liquid or gel form and are applied directly to material surfaces. Materials are then joined while the glue is still wet, creating a bond during the drying or curing process.
Adhesive fabric tapes come in a variety of materials, colors, and bond longevity. Some are ideal for temporary bonds while other adhesive fabric tape options offer a permanent bonding solution. Adhesive fabric tape bonds are virtually immediate and rarely require drying or curing. Be sure to double check product details while shopping for adhesive fabric tapes as non-adhesive fabric strips are also often referred to as “fabric tape”.
Vinyl cement is specially formulated for bonding vinyl materials together and creates a strong, flexible bond at the chemical level. Contact adhesives, sometimes referred to as contact cement, are versatile and can create strong, durable bonds between a wide range of materials. Both of these adhesive types must be applied to both material surfaces and allowed to dry before joining for an extra strong bond.
It’s not easy to bond one fabric to another. However, fabric glues are specifically designed for bonding fabrics. They’re washable and even remain flexible after drying.
- What to look for: Your fabric glue should be heat resistant and shouldn’t affect the fabric's flexibility.
- Uses: Great for mending tears or bonding fabrics in places where sewing isn’t possible or feasible.
- Best Options at Trivantage: Tear Mender Adhesive comes in a variety of available sizes and offers a strong bond, ideal for small upholstery projects & fabric tears depending on your needs.
Before you select an adhesive tape, it’s important to understand its function and limitations to avoid a bad outcome. Generally, the best type of adhesive tape for your project depends on the materials you are bonding, how long it needs to last, the project’s final use purpose, and many other factors.
- What to look for: Ensure you're choosing fabric adhesive tape that offers the desired bond longevity and is chemically compatible with the fabric or material you plan to bond.
- Uses: Ideal for reinforcing seams or areas of stress on a fabric.
- Best Options at Trivantage: We offer a wide selection of adhesive tapes to fit all types of projects including Super Seamstick/Hi-Tack Adhesive Tape, often used for temporary bonding before sewing, Super Kwik Patch Repair Tape, an option primarily used for patching vinyl, and Emseal UST Awning/Sign Sealant Tape that is self-expanding and acts as an alternative to caulk.
Vinyl Cement, as the name suggests, is engineered for use on vinyl materials, dries quickly, and creates a long-lasting bond. Ideal for marine applications, vinyl cement is waterproof, flexible, and can withstand extreme temperatures.
- What to look for: Vinyl cement should be considered if your project requires a permanent bond between vinyl material or vinyl-coated fabrics, especially if the application will benefit from additional water resistance.
- Uses: Usually best for marine applications, automotive upholstery, outdoor repairs, and other heavy-duty projects involving vinyl.
- Best Options at Trivantage: Depending on the type of project, scope, and materials, shop five different sizes of HH-66 Vinyl Cement, HAR Bonded Vinyl-Laminate Adhesive 730, or HAR Vinyl Seam Sealer Adhesive 729.
Contact adhesives are known for their high strength and durability. What makes them stand out is they allow for initial adjustments and then bond instantly upon contact.
- What to look for: It should be repositionable initially to allow adjustments and should offer a permanent adhesive bond once set. Otherwise, one mistake in the first phases of application could lead to a permanent disaster.
- Uses: Usually best for automotive upholstery, outdoor applications, or heavy-duty projects requiring permanent adhesive bonds between different materials.
- Best Options at Trivantage: Shop an array of contact adhesives engineered for longevity including HAR Cotton Duck Adhesive 740, ideal for bonding canvas fabrics, HAR Neoprene Coated Fabric Adhesive 628, and more.
Additional Adhesive Options for Upholstery
- Foam adhesives are formulated to bond foam to various surfaces without damaging the foam. The adhesive should be low VOC (volatile organic compound) and should not eat through your upholstery foam. Typically best for bonding foam in cushions, seats, and mattresses.
- Spray adhesives are easy to apply to various surfaces, come in aerosol cans, and provide an even coat. While they have a wide spray area and can be used on many materials, this type of adhesive is not ideal for heavy-duty projects and can be dangerous to use in poorly ventilated areas.
Browse Our Selection of Adhesives
Before you buy an adhesive for fabric or vinyl, you’ll need to consider bond-strength, water-resistance, type of materials you’re bonding (i.e., suede, silicone, concrete, etc.), and many other factors. Need help figuring out which solution is best for your project? We’re here to help, every day, every step of the way.
Check out our selection of fabric adhesives and tapes today.