Contact cement and rubber cement are adhesives for joints and surfaces.
However, the major difference between them is that rubber cement, after being applied, is flexible to have a temporary hold in contrast to contact adhesive, which provides an instant permanent bond.
Before choosing one of these two types of glue for your home improvement project, you want to know how they work and whether they are a better fit for the purpose you are buying them for.
Yes. While both contact and rubber cement are adhesives, Contact cement and Rubber cement are entirely different in terms of the potency of bonding, smell, chemical composition, approach to removal, and usage.
People who buy Contact cement usually use them for construction-grade laminating, like bonding countertops to cupboards and metal flashing onto the sides of buildings.
So, they are for heavy-duty gluing and not for areas where just slight movement is expected.
On the other hand, rubber cement is ideal for the bond between joints or surfaces that can be repositioned. It’s a pretty flexible glue but holds up pretty well.
Since they are composed of Acid-free formulas, they’re great for gluing torn shoes, including leather footwear, and photography projects like scrapbooking, artwork and photo mounting, and so on, given that they won’t shrink or curl.
What you should know about Contact Cement
Contact cement comes useful for bonding surfaces like plastics, veneers, rubber, glass, metal, and leather. Home improvement workers use them for gluing large surfaces such as countertops in kitchens and bathrooms.
But, what makes the substance unique from other types of adhesives is that they work well for non-porous materials that other adhesives can’t glue together.
This is because Contact cement is already dry on contact, so it doesn’t take a long time to dry or require the use of clamps.
This is useful for gluing non-porous materials, which creates no room for moisture to escape once the parts are joined together. This also makes contact cement more ideal for floor tiles than other adhesives.
This type of glue requires just about 15 to 20 minutes of air-dry after application before assembling. Unlike many other adhesives, this is a solid substance and not sticky.
There are, however, two types of contact cement:
- Water-based contact
- Solvent-based Contact
The major difference between Water-based contact and Solvent-based Contact is that the former does not stick well to metal or glass, whereas solvent-based contact cement holds up well.
Meanwhile, none of the Contact Cements types is ideal for masonry – not a good idea for an application.
Generally speaking, you use this type of adhesives for gluing rubber, tile, Formica, metal, and plastics for a permanent, stronger, and long-lasting bond.
What you should know about Rubber Cement
Made from elastic polymers (usually latex), Rubber cement is mixed in a solvent such as acetone, hexane, heptane, or toluene to keep it fluid enough for use.
Unlike contact cement, they do not hold up on non-porous materials. So, you can’t expect a permanent bond when used on glass or metal.
It is an affordable rubber-based adhesive that dries as the solvents evaporate and the rubber forms a thin, solid layer.
Rubber cement is a common household glue that you use to bond various paper products as their glue isn’t too strong for large surfaces.
While the odor of the adhesive is not as strong as Contact cement, inhaling large amounts of rubber cement gas can be extremely dangerous, especially for young ones.
Rubber cement lasts long in its containers, but once air can creep in, its action slowly thickens the mastic and makes it unusable.
Compared with similar adhesives, rubber cement has a longer curing duration, as 15 minutes is not enough to dry before assembling, depending on the surface involved.
Similarities between Contact cement and Rubber cement
While there is a wide gap between these two adhesives, especially concerning chemical composition and usage, there are some notable similarities.
With the understanding of these similarities, you may realize that choosing any one of them will not negatively impact your project.
The similarities between contact cement and rubber cement can be identified through three lenses:
- An identical method of application to surfaces
- They are both effective bonding materials, just differences in usage
- They can both be removed after bonding, just different approach
- They are both dangerous for physical contact, e.g., eye irritation
An identical method of application to surfaces
The similarity in Contact and rubber cement when applying them to the surface even makes many believe they are the same thing. For both adhesives, you will still be required to coat the two parts that must be joined with the cement.
Also, you have to wait for them to dry before assembling the surfaces/objects to the position you want them to be glued, whether using contact or rubber cement. Only that contact cement doesn’t require much time.
They are both effective bonding materials, just differences in usage
Both contact cement and rubber cement are two of the top household bonding substance you can think of. They are effective enough, but what makes one placed above the other is their usage.
For example, contact cement is considered stronger and more effective because it can hold non-porous materials like glass together for a long time while rubber cement can’t.
But at the same time, you’ll be ruining your paperwork and shoes if you use contact cement instead of rubber cement.
So, they are both effective as adhesives for what they have been formulated for.
They can both be removed after bonding, just a different approach
Contact and rubber cement are adhesives that can be removed even after bounding. Some industrial adhesives are unforgiving. But with these, there is a turning back.
The only thread of distinction here is that the acidic composition in contact cement makes them more rigid and requires a more critical removal method.
In contrast, rubber cement is flexible and can be removed with an appropriate approach.
Rubber cement also holds up well for a long time.
They are both dangerous for physical contact, e.g., eye irritation
Well, no adhesive is not harmful when it comes to physical contact. But to strike the motion of similarity between contact and rubber cement, it surfaces to say that none is less harmful than the other.
Rubber and contact cement are similarly stinky because they are specific glue that suspends synthetic rubber polymers in a solvent.
Contact cement may have a stronger and more uncomfortable smell, but Rubber cement also has theirs, and both can cause eye irritation if not handled carefully.
Contact cement vs Rubber cement: The comparison
We are likely all familiar with rubber cement since we were kids; we were with contact cement.
For you to know which of these adhesives is befitting for the kind of repairs or project you have at hand, there is a need to make a comparison of both across the considerations:
- Usage of non-porous materials
- Method of removal
- Duration takes to become harden
Usage of non-porous materials
We have been able to establish the fact that only contact cement will work for bonding non-porous materials like glass and metals. So if your project involves objects of this nature, it is a wrong idea to use rubber cement.
Method of removal
Rubber cement is easy to remove. When the glue of rubber cement dries, it becomes a spongy solid and can be peeled back carefully, and there are some handy rubber cement erasers that make the job a lot easier.
On the contrary, contact cement requires more effort. To remove them, you might have to use sandpaper or a chisel to mechanically remove the dried adhesive or even heat the glue such that you will be able to scrape it off from the surface,
Because contact cement is high-quality, fast-drying adhesive, some specifically formulated to bond to vinyl products, they can be quite pricier than the regular rubber cement.
A 32-ounce container of Barge (solvent-based) contact cement costs around $35. Meanwhile, the solvent-based is more affordable than the water-based but still revolves around the same price point.
On the other hand, Rubber cement is an affordable household adhesive. They create a temporarily adjustable bond for surface, and on platforms like Walmart, you can find ones as low as $2.76 for 4 oz.
The duration it takes to become harden
When Contact Cement reaches maximum holding strength in 7 days, they bond permanently after sufficient pressure has been applied.
Meanwhile, If rubber cement is applied in a thick coat, it can take up to 15 minutes to dry.
Rubber cement has a higher speed time of becoming hard for gluing, which is why they are ideal for tire patches.
Can you use contact cement to replace rubber cement?
It’s a yes and a No situation because it depends on the object or surface to which you want to apply them.
Generally speaking, contact cement can be used in place of rubber cement with the idea that you want a stronger and long-lasting bond.
However, contact adhesive on the rubber is better for non-porous materials that other adhesives cannot bond together, such as plastics, coatings, rubber, glass, metal, and leather.
For items like paperwork, artwork clipping, and photo collage, I don’t recommend using contact cement instead of rubber cement – it isis too strong for this purpose.
If you have an application that requires rubber cement but doesn’t have the adhesive, you can try alternatives like this A 3M restickable glue stick instead of contact cement.
Contact vs Rubber cement: Which is better and why?
Contact cement is far better than rubber cement. It is a great value for money if you look for household adhesives that will hold up for stronger bonds, long-lasting sticks, and reliable glue.
In addition, Contact cement does not require much time to cure before matching the two platforms together. Unlike rubber cement, IT last longer and do not become unusable due to air penetration in their cans.
Meanwhile, if you want to get the best from contact cement, you should go for the best brands/sellers, such as Dap 00271 Weldwood Original Contact Cement, and Rutland Stove Gasket Cement, my favorite.
Rubber cement is handy and effective in its way, too. I wouldn’t consider contact cement if what I want to do is glue a school project or have my photo glued to the wall of my room – rubber adhesives are ideal for the job.
Again, they are forgiving (flexible) and allow the object they have been applied on to be repositioned.
So it boils down to the project at hand.
And, I hope you found this useful.
What is the difference between paper cement and rubber cement?
As the name suggests, Paper cement is adhesive with the right chemical composition to bond different types of papers. Their usefulness is limited to papers.
Whereas, Rubber cement is acid-free and will even glue paper to metal, leather to book covers, etc.
Rubber cement also glue non-porous platforms, but for a temporary hold. They are great for papers and photos because they are specially formulated not to shrink, wrinkle, or curl paper.
Are all rubber cement the same?
No. Not all rubber cement is the same. Various rubber adhesives are classified based on their formulations, bonding potency, and ideal surface/object usage.
For example, Styrene and acrylonitrile are rubber adhesives but are typically used to join pieces made of rubber, while neoprene and polyurethane made of natural rubber are applied to various elements, including glass, metal, and natural fibers.
The common feature among these rubber adhesives variations is that they are known for flexibility, and they are composed of rubber mixed with other compounds.
Can you use super glue to replace rubber cement?
No. I wouldn’t advise you to use super glue to substitute rubber cement.
Also called Cyanoacrylate gum, super glue usually becomes dried, brittle, and inflexible once exposed to air for a little length of time.
This is in contrast to how rubber cement work. So they aren’t great alternatives to rubber cement, especially for patching or fixing a puncture in either tires or their accompanying inner tubes.
This page may contain affiliate links.
To support the content and the knowledge I share here, I earn from qualifying purchases from Amazon at no extra cost to you.