What is PVA Glue – Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated on October 15, 2021

The abbreviation opens up to mean polyvinyl acetate. But you probably don’t need to know that. What you do need to know is that this glue is called wood glue or carpenter’s glue. And, this is not to say that you can’t use this glue if you aren’t a carpenter.

Mainly used to hold together wooden planks, this glue is also openly misused by children who can get their hands on it, so keep it in a safe place.

It’s a very useful and strong adhesive. To know more, you’ll have to keep on reading.

Things You Need to Know About PVA Glue

Here are some of the features of the PVA glue that you seek to know.


This glue can be used on any porous material for a very hard seal. Although used mainly as a bonding agent for wood, it can also be used on other materials like chipboard, plywood, and fibreboard (MDF) and even papers and clothes.

And besides being used as a sealer, this glue is also sometimes used as a primer, plaster, admixture and dust proofer.


The most commonly used PVA glue is completely white. It’s thick, heavy, and opaque.

There are more versions of this PVA glue – the one we call carpenter’s glue is also pretty common, and it’s yellow in color. The chemical composition and the properties are the same in all types of PVA glue.

And regardless of the color of the liquid glue, all types of PVA glue dries clear. This is one of the reasons why they are so appreciated; the glue will not tamper with the appearance of your furniture.

Adhesive Power

The reason for which this glue is so revered among carpenters is that it has a very high holding strength. You have to work with this glue in a place that has a good circulation of air.

At moderate room temperatures, the glue can reach its full capacity of locking slabs of wood just within an hour.


This glue is pretty long-lasting. If you are working on a furniture piece that you will keep outside, then use the yellow one because it is more resistant to water than the white one.

The white glue is mainly used to glue together things that stay indoors because they have the tendency to absorb moisture from the air and become weak over time.

Advantages of PVA Glue

  • The glue is not toxic, and it doesn’t give off any strong fume that might make your head spin or your insides swirl (as figuratively as literally).
  • The glue dries clear. Due to exposure to water, the glue turns milky white. When the water dries away, it goes back to being transparent.
  • PVA glue is inexpensive compared to some of the other types of glue that are used as such strong adhesives.

Disadvantages of PVA Glue

  • This glue doesn’t work well with oak wood (Quercus Robur). The glue reacts with an organic substance in the wood and goes black very shortly after being applied.
  • If you do not wipe off the excess glue from the sides of the furniture, then the dried PVA glue will attract dust and dirt from the air and turn black. And it will be very unflattering to the furniture.
  • With time, microorganisms like algae, fungi, and yeasts will start feasting on the chemical in the glue and cause it to disintegrate. In case this happens, the furniture will start getting rickety and will need to be reconditioned.
  • You will be able to varnish over this glue. When a varnish agent comes into contact with the PVA, it starts melting and turning milky in color. The reaction will produce some heat, and you will also notice some bubbles forming on the side. The milky color goes away when the PVC dries, but the bubbles remain.
  • Takes about 24 hours for the glue to dry perfectly. You will have to leave it on for about one whole day.

How to Apply PVA Glue

You have to prepare the glue before you can use it. Preparation is recommended because this glue is so thick that to use it raw will cause a big, clumsy and sticky hassle for you. So, let’s begin with the procedure.

Step 1: Preparation

Don’t worry. You won’t have to spend extra bucks for this mixing component. It’s cheap, and you have it at home already – water. Fortunately, PVA is soluble in water, and so you can mix together to make the glue a little less viscous.

Step 2: Ratio of Water to PVA

How much water you need to use will depend on the materials that you will be working on. The general mixing ratio is 3 parts water to 1 part PVA.

Take the amount of glue you want to use into a mixing pot first. Then add water to it part by part to make sure that you don’t make the solution too dilute to be effective. Keep stirring continuously while you are adding the water to ensure that no lump is formed in the mix.

Step 3: Application

After the right density is achieved, you can finally apply it onto the surfaces of the materials that you want it to hold.

PVC is permanent and flexible, but it is not toxic. So, you can use your bare hands to do the task if you don’t mind the gooey and cold feeling.

We would suggest you use the hands because you will have more control over the amount that you are spreading onto the surface.

After application, using a cotton cloth, wipe off the excess glue from the sides. Now press the pieces firmly together and hold for about 10 seconds to lock them into place.

How to Remove PVA Glue

Since PVA glue is water-soluble, it can be easily removed using water-based chemicals from the market. If you want inexpensive, you can go inexpensive by using the milky white solution of warm, soapy water. If this won’t work for you, then read on for a technical solution.

Step 1: Use Spirit

Get some white spirit (turpentine) and a piece of clean cloth. Now pour some of the white spirit on the cloth and rub it onto the surface that you want to work on. Now, wait for 2 minutes for the spirit to melt the dried up glue.

Step 2: Disintegration

Now, take another piece of cloth and put it in soapy warm water. Then use this cloth while it’s still warm to wipe the PVA glue away. The glue will start to disintegrate by now, so the rubbing will pull away the glue from the wood.

Step 3: Remove Residue

Now use a liquefied PVA chemical or nail polish to remove the residual PVC that’s clinging to the wood. Finally, wipe the area dry with a dry cloth. Now use an old sem-sharp razor blade to gently scrape off the thin spread of PVA glue. Take care to not scrape off the wood itself.

Additionally, you can sand off this tiny dry residue from the surface too. That is the procedure of removing it from the wood. And to remove it from clothes and carpets, you need to wash it with some detergent and warm water.


For the price and the ease of use, PVA glue is very popular among carpenters. You will be a special fan of PVA glue if you like doing DIY projects and need a strong adhesive without a huge investment into industrial bonding agents.