7 Best Glues For Paper Crafts & When To Use Them

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I’ve tried a lot of glues over the years, and I can tell you, they’re not all made equal. 

Some glues warp and wrinkle paper while others leave an annoying shiny residue (I’m looking at you Fabri-Tac!) 

But with so many craft glues out there, and so many things to consider, how on earth do you find the right glue for you? 

In my experience, it takes a fair amount of trial and error. To save you some trouble, though, here are the glues I use and why.

Good to know: I usually make junk journals but I also dabble in other paper-based crafts and upcycling projects. I use the same glues for journaling as I do for my other crafting, so I hope you’ll find my guide helpful no matter what type of paper crafting you do.

TL;DR: My Favourite Glues For Paper Crafts

My favourite glues for papercrafts

I frequently get asked what glues I use for journaling and paper crafts. By way of a quick answer, these are the ones I’ve used for a few years now and will continue to do so:

Now for my more detailed answer and what I think the pros and cons of each glue are.

7 Best Glues For Paper Crafts

1. Art Glitter Glue For Precision Work

Art Glitter Glue

When crafting with paper, you’ll often find you need to do some precision glueing, such as when using fussy cuts and die cuts. Also, if you make journals like I do, you’ll want a thin line of glue when attaching pockets to your pages. 

Art Glitter Glue (no, there’s no glitter in it) is perfect for this. It dries clear and is very strong. So strong, in fact, that you need to be careful not to glue something in the wrong place because mere milliseconds later, you won’t be able to move things around. 

Art Glitter Glue is a tad pricey, but you don’t need heaps of it. One of my YouTube subscribers kindly sent me a large bottle of it roughly 18 months ago and I’m still working through it. I’d actually consider that fair value for money – especially with how often I use it.

Top Tip: I decant my Art Glitter Glue into small bottles like these to make my glueing even more precise. It also costs less to do it this way than buying an official glue bottle tip. Just be careful to go slow or you’ll get it everywhere. I learned that the hard way!

Cheaper Alternatives

If you’re brand new to paper crafting and not sure if you’ll keep it up, then you might want to consider a cheaper alternative to Art Glitter Glue, such as:

  • Anita’s Tacky Glue: This is the first glue I used and it works well for precision work. However, it does leave a slightly shiny residue if you look closely. It’s also quite thick, so you’ll need to squeeze the bottle hard – especially when you get close to the bottom of it.
  • Cosmic Shimmer: I personally haven’t used this one. But a lot of crafters I follow on YouTube say this is one of the closest glues you can get to Art Glitter Glue – for a fraction of the cost. When my Art Glitter Glue runs out, I’ll likely try this one next, so stay tuned for my verdict.
  • Bearly Arts Glue: This is another glue I haven’t personally used, but a couple of my friends in the US have recommended it. It’s very expensive here in the UK, so I likely won’t be able to try this one myself.

2. Collall All Purpose Glue For Large Surface Areas (Paper-to-Paper)

Collall All Purpose Glue

Up next: non-precision work! If you need to glue large surfaces (paper-to-paper only), I recommend Collall All Purpose Glue

It gives you plenty of wiggle room and is a spreadable wet glue, so you can cover large areas quickly. It’s also relatively inexpensive. 

But be careful: Don’t open the cap too much as this glue tends to come pouring out, so you might see it seep out of the edges if you use too much of it. The good news is that you can quickly rub off the glue if this happens without leaving a shiny residue.

3. Fabri-Tac or Beacon 3-in-1 For Fabrics, Trims & Unusual Surfaces

Beacon 3-in-1 and Fabri-Tac

For glueing fabrics, trims and unusual surfaces like charms or buttons, Fabri-Tac (if you’re in the US) and Beacon 3-in-1 (if you’re in the UK) are your new best friends.

A lot of crafters, myself included, often describe these glues as hot glue in a bottle. They’re strong and work quickly. 

Be mindful: They leave a shiny residue, which you can see through the holes in lace or other trims. It can also seep through thin fabrics, so try not to use too much of it if you’re glueing fabric onto your journal cover, for example. 

You might also find that the glue becomes very thick when you reach the bottom of the bottle. Others have told me you can pour a couple of drops of nail varnish remover into it to make it runny again, but I haven’t tried this myself. I’m too much of a chicken to try that.

Because of this, I now use Art Glitter Glue for lace and trims and only reach for my Beacon 3-in-1 when I need something stronger or when glueing large pieces of fabric. I also use Beacon 3-in-1 when I glue pressed flowers into my journals.

4. Uhu Glue Stick For Masterboards

Uhu Glue Stick

There might also be occasions when you need to use a glue stick, such as when making collage masterboards. I’ve tried a few over the years; I prefer Uhu as you can buy it in bulk and it holds relatively well. These days, I only use it for masterboards.

5. Matte Gel Medium For Decoupage

Matte Gel Medium

Finally, if you’re using napkins in your projects or when you need to seal something, such as these DIY circle charms I made on video, then the Matte Gel Medium from Pebeo (Studio Acrylics) is the one I use and like. 

It’s matte so it won’t dry shiny and you can use it straight out of the bottle. You don’t need to mix it with water like PVA glue and it doesn’t dry tacky like Mod Podge.

5 Important Things To Consider When Choosing Glues

1. Will the glue warp or wrinkle your paper?

Warped or wrinkled paper is one of my biggest bugbears. None of the glues I’ve recommended above have this issue.

But if you’re looking for a different glue, here are some things to consider:

  • Water Content: Glues with high water content can cause paper to warp or wrinkle as they dry. Water-based glues like white glue or PVA glue are common culprits. While glues like this are widely used, they can cause issues if you use too much glue or if the paper is particularly thin.
  • Drying Time: Faster-drying glues may reduce the risk of warping or wrinkling as they have less time to affect the paper. However, quick-drying glues may also set before you’ve had a chance to properly position your pieces.
  • Application Technique: Using a thin, even layer of glue and applying it sparingly can help to avoid paper warping and wrinkling.
  • Paper Thickness and Quality: Thicker, higher-quality papers are generally more resistant to warping and wrinkling than thinner or lower-quality papers. However, even sturdy papers can be affected by excessive moisture from certain types of glue.
  • Test Before Use: It’s always a good idea to test a small amount of glue on a scrap piece of paper before using it on your actual project. This way, you can assess how the glue interacts with the paper.

2. Is the glue acid-free?

If you’re making something you want to keep for a long time, then you’ll need to use acid-free glues.

Otherwise, you might find your projects become discoloured or brittle over time. Acid-free glue is also best for archival projects, such as if you’re using vintage photos you want to preserve.

You’ll need to check the label on the bottle or the description provided by the manufacturer online to check if the glue you want to use is acid-free or not. Usually, this is a selling point, so you’ll often find it will be mentioned if the glue is acid-free.

All of the glues I’ve recommended above are acid-free apart from the Matte Gel Medium, which doesn’t specify whether it is or not. The label does say it’s non-yellowing, though.

3. Does the glue dry clear?

If you’re doing precision glueing or using lace in your projects, you’ll probably want to check whether your glue of choice dries clear or not. 

Some glues may leave a shiny residue (like Fabri-Tac and Beacon 3-in-1), so you’ll need to be careful when using them, while others may leave coloured stains. 

Glues that dry clear often have this as a selling point, but it’s probably also worth testing your glue before using it on your final project.

4. Should you use tape runners or double-sided sticky tape?

You might find tape runners and double-sided sticky tape easy to use – especially if you’re crafting with unusual papers like vellum or glassine. 

I personally don’t use them because I’ve seen these glues discolour over time and also leave a build-up of sticky residue if you accidentally glue things in the wrong place. 

Instead, I use either Beacon 3-in-1 (aka Fabri-Tac) or my Art Glitter Glue (depending on the surface), which seem to work just fine.

5. Should you use hot melt glue or a glue gun?

Plenty of crafters use hot melt glue and glue guns in their projects – especially if they’re using pretty embellishments like charms and buttons, for example. 

I personally don’t do this because you’ll probably find those charms will pop off over time (years later) when the glue becomes hard, brittle and non-stick. 

It’s also difficult to be precise with a glue gun. Instead, consider using Fabri-Tac or Beacon 3-in-1, which hold just as well and are much longer lasting than hot melt glue.

Do you need more help choosing your supplies?

I hope my guide to the best glues for paper crafts has helped you. If you have any questions I’ve not covered above, please leave me a comment below and I’ll reply ASAP!

And if you make junk journals like I do, then you might also want to check out some of my other blog posts, such as:

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider sharing it with a friend who might also find it useful.

My favourite glues for paper crafts and why
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  1. Hi Justine,
    I hope you are NOT reading this… and instead having a lovely time on your getaway. The cabin looks scrumptious! This is so great for people getting started. Here’s my two cents – Bearly Art Glue is very much like Art Glitter Glue except it dries a little bit slower. That is the only difference I have found. I looked for COLLALL when I first heard you use it, but didn’t find it in the US. Maybe somewhere, but not on Amazon or near my house (East Coast.) For US crafters, Amazon Basics Large Permanent Nontoxic Bulk Glue Sticks, Washable, 1.27 oz. Stick, 12-Pack, White, is a cheaper alternative to the UHU. Amazon Basic is not purple though. Sometimes the 1.27 oz size in 12 pack is not available, but if you can wait, it comes back. I bought the Pebeo after you recommended it and love it. I sometimes use another modge podge like glue called Royal Coat Decoupage Finish which I like, too. It’s not tacky or shiny. I haven’t actually thought about the differences between the Pebeo and this glue so can’t describe differences. I guess I should do that. Hugs, Jeanne

    1. Hi Jeanne,

      Hehe, don’t you worry… I’ve only just seen your comment today lol.

      Thank you so much for sharing your recommendations – I’ve had a few people tell me they can’t get Collall in the States. Such a shame because it’s an awesome glue.

      I’ve been wondering whether I should start stocking some supplies. While paying postage for glue on its own would be expensive, maybe it would make sense if it could be bundled up with something else I start selling in the future. I’ll have to put my thinking cap on 🙂 xoxo

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