Don't Get Stuck with a Bad Choice - The Best Wood Glues for Outdoor Furniture and Projects

Don't Get Stuck with a Bad Choice - The Best Wood Glues for Outdoor Furniture and Projects


Wood glue is an essential item for most woodworking projects. Selecting the right glue for the task at hand will ensure long-lasting, durable connections between your wooden pieces. With the variety of wood glues on the market, choosing the proper adhesive can be challenging. However, knowing the differences between the main types of wood glue will allow you to confidently pick the best option for your needs.

In this article, we’ll explore the most common wood glue types, their characteristics, ideal usage, and tips for application. Whether you are gluing boards together to build a deck, securing joints on indoor furnishings, or fixing wooden items around your home, there is a wood glue formulated to get the job done right. We’ll cover water-resistant options for outdoor projects, fast-curing adhesives for quick repairs, versatile all-purpose glues, and more specialized solutions. With the insight provided here, you’ll be equipped to select the optimal wood glue for every job.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood Glue for Outdoor Use

When selecting the best wood glue for outdoor projects, there are several key factors to take into account:


One of the most important considerations is choosing a waterproof wood glue. Since outdoor projects will be exposed to the elements, you need an adhesive that will not wash away when it gets wet. Otherwise, your bond lines may fail over time as moisture seeps in. The best outdoor wood glues are water resistant or waterproof.

UV Resistance

Look for wood glue that is UV resistant. Ultraviolet rays from sunlight can break down many types of adhesive. UV exposure causes wood glue to become brittle and lose strength. Using a UV-resistant formula will allow your projects to better withstand sun damage.

Gap Filling Abilities

Some outdoor wood glue can bridge gaps up to half an inch or larger between surfaces. The ability to fill gaps is useful for projects where the wood may expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. Wide joint gaps are common with outdoor furniture, decks, and other constructions.

Open Assembly Time

This refers to how long you have to position pieces before the glue starts to set. Long open times of 30 minutes or more allow more flexibility during assembly of large projects. Quick-setting glues under 10 minutes may make alignment more challenging. Consider your project needs when choosing open time.

Polyurethane Glues

Polyurethane glues, also known as Gorilla Glue, are a popular choice for outdoor woodworking projects. Here are the pros and cons of using polyurethane glue outdoors:


  • Extremely water resistant - polyurethane glues form bonds that are impervious to water, making them a great choice for outdoor furniture, boats, and other projects exposed to the elements.

  • Strong bonds - polyurethane glues form incredibly strong bonds between porous materials like wood. The cured glue can often be stronger than the wood itself.

  • Gap-filling - polyurethane glues expand as they cure, allowing them to fill gaps in joints up to a quarter inch. This makes assembly easier.

  • Fast curing time - most polyurethane glues set within 24 hours under normal conditions. Some newer formulations cure even faster.


  • Messy - uncured polyurethane glue tends to ooze out of joints. This requires some cleanup.

  • Can damage finishes - the amine compounds in polyurethane glue can damage delicate wood finishes. Test on scraps first.

  • Doesn't stain well - the plastic-like bonds formed mean stains don't penetrate well into polyurethane glue. Joints will stand out.

  • Doesn't sand well - fully cured polyurethane glues are difficult to sand flush with the wood surface. This can lead to uneven joints.

So in summary, polyurethane glue is a great choice for outdoor projects like furniture, boats, birdhouses, and planter boxes where waterproofing is essential. Just account for the messy application and difficulty sanding when using it.

Epoxy Glues

Epoxy glues are known for their strength and water resistance. This makes them a popular choice for outdoor woodworking projects that will be exposed to the elements.

Pros of Epoxy Glue:

  • Extremely strong bond - Epoxy forms a durable mechanical and chemical bond that is stronger than the wood itself. This makes it well-suited for load-bearing outdoor projects.

  • Waterproof - Epoxy resins are impervious to water, even when submerged. They will not break down or lose bond strength when exposed to rain, snow, and moisture.

  • Gap-filling - Epoxy can bridge small gaps in wood joints, which helps account for expansion and contraction of wood outdoors.

  • Durable - Once cured, epoxy is highly resistant to temperature fluctuations, UV rays, chemicals, and abrasion. Bonds can last for decades outdoors.

Cons of Epoxy Glue:

  • Difficult to apply - Epoxy glues have a short working time and can be messy to work with. The mixing of resin and hardener must be precise.

  • Toxic fumes - Epoxy gives off fumes as it cures that can irritate eyes and lungs. Working in a well-ventilated area is a must.

  • Surface preparation - For best bond strength, surfaces must be cleaned, sanded, and scored prior to glue up.

  • Long cure time - Epoxy takes several hours to fully cure, so clamps or fixtures are needed to hold joints stable until set.

Overall, epoxy is one of the top choices for permanent, waterproof wood bonds in outdoor settings. Just be prepared for more involved application compared to other wood glues. Proper safety precautions should be taken as well.

Cyanoacrylate Glues

Cyanoacrylate glues, commonly known as super glues, have become a popular option for outdoor woodworking projects. Some key advantages of cyanoacrylate glue include:

  • Strong bonding power - Cyanoacrylate forms an incredibly strong bond between surfaces in a very short amount of time. This allows you to quickly adhere pieces and continue working on your project.

  • Works on a variety of materials - While especially effective on wood, cyanoacrylate can also firmly bind materials like metal, plastic, rubber, and ceramic. This versatility makes it useful for many outdoor applications.

  • Resistant to weathering - Cyanoacrylate stands up well to moisture, humidity, and temperature fluctuations when used outdoors. The bonded joint is unlikely to fail due to weather exposure.

  • Difficult to remove or separate - Once cured, a cyanoacrylate joint is extremely difficult to disassemble. This permanent bond is advantageous for outdoor items that need to remain fixed together.

Some downsides to consider are:

  • Brittle over time - Though initially strong, cyanoacrylate joints tend to become brittle and prone to cracking as they age. This may limit the long term durability for some outdoor uses.

  • Can damage surfaces - Excess adhesive that seeps out of a joint can leave a white, chalky finish on wood and other materials. This may require sanding or refinishing to remove.

  • Poor gap-filling properties - Cyanoacrylate does not work well on joints with large gaps. The pieces must fit closely together for optimal bonding strength.

Overall, cyanoacrylate glue is a good choice for temporary or semi-permanent outdoor wood joints that need high immediate strength. But other adhesives may be preferable for permanent, load-bearing, or long-lasting outdoor wood projects. Careful surface preparation and application is required to avoid aesthetic damage while leveraging the benefits of cyanoacrylate glues.

PVA Glues

PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue is a popular white glue used for many household craft and woodworking projects. PVA glues have several advantages that make them one of the best options for outdoor woodworking.

Pros of PVA Glue for Outdoor Use:

  • Strong Bond: PVA forms long polymer chains that bind materials tightly together. This creates an extremely durable bond, often stronger than the wood itself.

  • Water Resistant: PVA glues are water-resistant once fully cured. This makes them suitable for outdoor furniture, planter boxes, bird houses, and other outdoor wood projects.

  • Versatile: PVA adheres to porous materials like wood, paper, cloth and ceramics. It works for both soft and hard woods.

  • Sandable and Paintable: When dry, PVA forms a smooth surface that sands easily for finishing. It also accepts paint and stains.

  • Non-toxic: PVA glues are non-toxic once cured. They meet FDA standards for indirect food contact.

Cons of PVA Glue for Outdoor Use

  • Long Cure Time: PVA glues take 24-48 hours for a full cure. Clamps may be needed to hold joints while curing.

  • Water Soluble: PVA glues can weaken and dissolve if exposed to excessive moisture before fully cured. Not suitable for submerged applications.

  • Temperature Sensitive: Glue bond strength decreases if PVA glue dries below 50°F. Not optimal for cold weather outdoor projects.

Overall, PVA glue is an affordable and readily-available adhesive that creates strong, water-resistant bonds ideal for outdoor woodworking in warm, above-ground applications. Clamping and long cure times must be factored into project planning.

Other Options

While polyurethane, epoxy, cyanoacrylate, and PVA glues are the most common wood glues, there are some other options that may work well depending on your specific project and needs.

Silicone Glue

Silicone glue creates flexible, waterproof bonds. It can be used for both indoor and outdoor projects. Silicone glues are good for materials that may expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity, like wood and some plastics. Silicone glue can take 24-48 hours to fully cure. It may not be the best choice for load-bearing joints.

Hot Melt Glue

Hot melt glue provides quick bonds as it sets as it cools. It is a thermoplastic adhesive. This makes hot melt glue easy to use for time-sensitive projects or temporary repairs. However, hot melt glue is not very strong or water-resistant. It may not hold up well for permanent outdoor use.

Contact Cement

Contact cement is applied to both surfaces to be bonded. It sets quickly, sometimes within minutes. It provides a strong bond for materials like plastic, rubber, and tile. Contact cement is often used for laminate countertops. It may be an option for bonding some outdoor materials, but is not optimal for wood.

Construction Adhesives

Heavy-duty construction adhesives provide versatile and weather-resistant bonds. Products like Liquid Nails are designed to bond wood, drywall, stone, metal, foam, and more. Construction adhesives cure slowly so can be tricky for projects requiring precise alignment. But they create durable, long-lasting joints.

Best Glues for Specific Uses

When selecting the best wood glue for outdoor projects, it helps to consider which materials you are gluing together. Here are some top recommendations for different material combinations:

Wood to Wood

For gluing wood to wood in outdoor settings, polyurethane glues like Gorilla Glue are excellent choices. The water-resistant polyurethane foam expands into the pores of the wood, creating a super strong bond that can withstand sun, rain, and humidity. Titebond III is another good option, as it offers water resistance while still being easy to sand and finish.

Metal to Metal

Two-part epoxy glues are ideal when gluing metal to metal for outdoor use. The epoxy creates durable, rigid bonds that won't weaken over time. J-B Weld and Loctite work well for metals like steel, aluminum, iron, and copper. Make sure to rough up smooth metal surfaces first for better adhesion.

Plastic to Plastic

For plastic, cyanoacrylate glue (super glue) provides fast-drying and water-resistant bonds. Gorilla Super Glue Gel is a top choice, as it bonds plastics like PVC, acrylic, styrene, and more. The gel consistency helps control flow for precise application. Accelerator spray can be used to cure the super glue even faster.

Mixed Materials

When gluing dissimilar materials like plastic, metal, and wood, epoxy adhesives offer versatility. TotalBoat makes an epoxy suited for bonding wood, fiberglass, composites, plastics, and metals. It creates optimal bonds between mixed materials for outdoor use.

Application Tips

When using wood glue for outdoor projects, proper application is key to creating strong, long-lasting bonds. Here are some tips:

  • Carefully follow the clamping time recommendations on the product label. This is the amount of time the glued joint should remain clamped to ensure full strength. Clamping for longer is fine, but clamping for less time can compromise the bond.

  • Apply the right amount of glue. Too little glue can lead to weak spots in the bond. Too much glue can cause excess squeeze-out. Generally a thin, even layer across the entire joint surface is ideal.

  • Clamp properly. Use enough clamping pressure to bring the joint tightly together, but not so much that the wood bows or cups. Place clamps near the edges. For longer boards, use staggered clamps.

  • Glue bare wood only. Remove any paint, finish, wax or dirt so the glue can absorb into the wood fibers. Dampen extremely dry or porous woods slightly.

  • Work efficiently. Have everything ready before starting. Once glue is applied, join pieces within the open time recommended on the label.

  • Let cure fully. Do not stress glue joints until the cured time indicated. Full strength may take a day or longer with some glues.

  • Store and handle carefully. Recap containers tightly and store most glues in cool, dry locations. Follow individual product instructions.

Proper glue application requires some technique, but gets easier with experience. Following these basic tips will help ensure dependable, lasting outdoor wood bonds.


When it comes to the best overall outdoor wood glue, Polyurethane glues are a top choice. They are waterproof, flexible, and provide a strong bond for a wide variety of outdoor projects. Gorilla Glue is a leading brand of polyurethane glue that consistently receives high ratings.

Polyurethane glues expand as they dry, allowing them to fill gaps and create a tight bond. This makes them ideal for outdoor furniture, garden structures, doors, windows, and other projects where joints may not fit perfectly flush. The flexibility of the bond also helps hold up to temperature changes, moisture, and movement better than other wood glue types.

Just be sure to follow the directions closely when using polyurethane glues. They require dampening the surfaces before application, and any excess squeeze-out should be wiped away quickly before drying. Properly applied, polyurethane glues can provide incredibly strong, long-lasting bonds under outdoor conditions.

For critical structural projects, epoxy may be a good option as well. But for most general outdoor woodworking, polyurethane glue provides the best all-around performance. It is strong, waterproof, gap-filling, and relatively easy to use. This winning combination makes polyurethane glue like Gorilla Glue the top choice for outdoor wood glue.

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