Contact Cement vs Rubber Cement – What’s the Difference?

You might be wondering about the difference between contact cement and rubber cement. Both are important tools to have in your craft room, but they serve different purposes. Here’s how they compare, so you can decide which is right for you!

Contact cement and rubber cement are both types of adhesive. They are both used to bond two surfaces together. However, they are different in how they work and how they are used. Contact cement is a type of adhesive that is activated by pressure.

It is usually used to bond two surfaces in contact with each other. The surfaces are wetted with the adhesive and then put together. The pressure of the two surfaces together activates the adhesive and bonds the surfaces together. 

What is Rubber Cement?

Although rubber cement and contact cement have similar names, they are two very different types of products. It is important to understand what makes them unique so you can choose which adhesive is best for your specific application.

Rubber cement is a strong adhesive used to bond two surfaces together. It is made of latex and rubber, which form a tough, waterproof bond. Rubber cement is also non-toxic and can be used on various surfaces.

Rubber cement can bond paper, fabric, plastic, and metal together. It is also used in crafting projects, such as making paper flowers. Rubber cement is easy to use; you only need to apply it to both surfaces and let it dry.

Advantages of Rubber Cement

Rubber cement is an all-purpose adhesive that works great on paper, plastic, metal, and glass. It dries quickly to form a tacky surface, allowing it to adhere well on several different surfaces. It can be removed by scraping if necessary. 

This type of cement will work well with scrapbooking supplies and many other crafts, including rubber stamping. When using rubber cement, ensure you use only water-based inks, as oil-based inks will not mix with them effectively. 

The seal becomes stronger when more pressure is applied while working with it. So make sure your hands are clean before applying; otherwise, your hand oils will reduce their effectiveness. Another advantage of rubber cement is its ability to reposition even after adhering for some time. 

Some adhesives become useless when they harden, but with rubber cement, you have a window of opportunity, even after drying, to shift things around before everything sticks together tightly. The main disadvantage of rubber cement is that it generally dries up quicker than contact cement.

What is Contact Cement?

Contact cement is a common construction adhesive used to bond materials together. There are different types of contact cement, and each one contains different chemicals. The most common type of contact cement is phenol-formaldehyde resin or PF resin. 

Like other types of glue, contact cement can be used differently depending on your project’s needs and preferences. Although it might not be as popular as some adhesives, contact cement rubber does have plenty of applications. Learn more about how it works and when you should use it below.

Original contact cement contains resins that are sensitive to both temperature and moisture. When these resins are combined with two pieces of material, such as wood or foam, they create a chemical reaction that bonds them. 

Contact cement is white or yellow and does not come in tubes like other adhesives. Instead, it comes in a plastic bottle with a brush applicator on top, making it easier to apply.

Contact cement becomes solid after it has dried, trapping whatever was stuck in place with no chance of peeling off or fading. Contact cement is typically made from an acrylic resin base, and either comes in powder form or as a thick liquid that dries quickly when exposed to air. 

They generally stick well but aren’t designed for long-term use or stressful applications. On top of that, contact cement may contain harmful chemicals such as xylene or methyl ethyl ketone

These chemicals are sometimes used during production to speed up drying time. But they can make any surface extremely slippery. Finally, contact cement works best on porous surfaces like paper and fabric. However, it might not adhere well to nonporous materials like glass.

Advantages of Contact Cement

There are a lot of advantages that you can get if you are going to use contact cement. The first one is about it being very strong and hard. It can also withstand very high temperatures, and thus, it is used in industrial uses. It will also create a waterproof seal, making it suitable for outdoor usage

Another good thing about using it is that it won’t harm any paintwork on your house or car. Its ingredients do not eat away at anything, including paint. This is why most professionals choose to use it. Before applying them again, you can clean all these materials off with warm water and soap. 

As mentioned above, it can also be cleaned easily after use by washing it with warm water and leaving the surface to dry completely.

You should give the surface a final wipe-down with acetone to remove any remaining residue from its ingredients. And it’s done before putting something over or near it, such as furniture or flooring.

Is Rubber Cement the Same as Glue?

Although glue and rubber cement may be made with similar ingredients, they have different uses. Glue is good for sticking two objects together over some time.

Rubber cement should only be used on surfaces that won’t move once it’s in place, like walls or floors. If you want to hang wallpaper, choose glue instead of rubber cement. 

Here are three other things you should know about glue vs. rubber cement:

  1. Always follow package instructions when using adhesives. 
  2. Both glue and rubber cement types can cause problems when not used correctly.
  3. Adhesives come in wide varieties. Make sure to use one that’s safe for your project. You can follow these guidelines when choosing an adhesive type. 
  4. Looking for something even stronger than superglue? Epoxies (stronger than glue) and foam adhesives (easier to apply) are available. 
  5. Rubber cement is generally pretty strong, but remember: Never spread rubber cement thinner than 1⁄2 inch thick, as it will peel off easier after drying. 
  6. You usually don’t need protective gloves or eyewear when working with contact cement because exposure isn’t likely unless you spill some on yourself. 

What is the Difference Between Contact Cement and Super Glue?

Unless you work in construction, chances are you’ve never had to use contact cement. And while you may be familiar with super glue and all its myriad applications.

You may not know that it is a type of contact cement. Both types of glue are useful and applicable, so what is their difference? The answer depends on your particular project and situation.  

Here’s a quick guide to each kind:

Contact cement creates an instant bond between two materials when applied. This makes it ideal for many different kinds of projects. Woodworking comes to mind immediately because most woodworking joints require some adhesive or bonding agent. 

Other common uses include fabricating and mounting specialty items like fake rocks, aquariums, etc. As mentioned before, contact cement is also known as a type of superglue. It’s a thin liquid that fills in all the tiny crevices when it has spread over your two surfaces and is allowed to dry.


In a nutshell, rubber cement and contact cement are very similar. The biggest difference is that you can use them to stick different materials together, and they will bond pretty well with cardboard or paper. But rubber cement is much more water-resistant than contact cement.

Contact cement will turn into a soupy mess when it gets wet. Rubber cement, on the other hand, is entirely waterproof after it dries.

Rubber cement is your best bet if you’re using your glue for school projects, books, or collages made from paper and cardboard. But if moisture resistance isn’t an issue, contact cement would also work fine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Adhesive is as Strong as Contact Cement?

Contact cement has long been a go-to adhesive for hobbyists. It’s widely used to adhere to paper or cardboard projects or when you need an adhesive that dries clear and can be peeled off without any sticky residue.

Some of its attributes also make it not ideal for every situation. Some people confuse rubber cement with contact cement because of their similar looks and packaging. 

Is Contact Cement the Same as Contact Adhesive?

Many people think that contact cement and contact adhesives are the same. That’s not true!

The two products may look similar, but they have very different uses. One is an adhesive, while the other is a sealant. Let’s dive into how each works, what they’re made of, and their benefits and limitations.  

Contact adhesive, in its purest form, is just super-sticky glue. It’s typically a gel or liquid with incredibly powerful adhesion properties. It doesn’t leave behind any residue after drying or curing. It stays where you put it, which makes it useful for arts and crafts applications like decoupage or homemade postcards.

Can You Use Contact Cement on Concrete?

Depending on your project, you can use several types of adhesives on concrete. Contact cement is made for bonding surfaces that don’t move, such as metals and ceramics. 

However, you cannot use contact cement on concrete; it will damage or stain if not removed promptly. If you need to adhere concrete to another surface, choose an adhesive designed for use with concrete. It won’t work immediately but produces a much stronger bond when allowed to cure. 

You should always read manufacturers’ instructions before applying any product containing solvents because some products must be allowed to air out before using them indoors.
Work in well-ventilated areas whenever possible when using these kinds of adhesives, especially if you have sensitive respiratory systems.

How Long Does Rubber Cement Take To Dry?

Rubber cement takes about 15-20 minutes to dry. Drying time depends on the room temperature and humidity or the area you are applying it.

Rubber cement should be applied in a well-ventilated area because rubber cement emits organic vapors while drying, which have been linked to adverse effects on human health and the environment. Rubber cement emits vapors that may cause cancer and damage plants and aquatic life.

Is Rubber Cement Sticky When Dry?

You already know that rubber cement is a white, sticky substance used to adhere paper to other surfaces. Perhaps less well-known is that rubber cement can also be used for gluing fabrics and adhering to vinyl flooring.

As its name suggests, rubber cement is made from natural and synthetic rubbers, which, when combined with oils, resins, and solvents, create a substance that looks and acts like an adhesive when wet but dries clear like paint after exposure to air.

Rubber cement’s primary benefit over contact cement is its ability to dry. Because it doesn’t contain solvent, rubber cement sets without drying too fast or becoming hard while still wet. Contact cement is quick-drying and contains chlorinated solvents that make it stickier than glue when it dries.

Is Rubber Cement Water Resistant?

The key difference between contact cement and rubber cement is that it contains latex, making it water-resistant. Unlike contact cement, which doesn’t contain latex, rubber cement allows you to adhere to two surfaces without waiting for them to dry. 

It’s also much more resistant to being washed off of your hands than contact cement. Because it’s water-resistant, you can use it for leatherwork, household repairs, and other craft projects. When using a hot glue gun, you should always remember whether your adhesive dries clear. 

Your glue should be clear when cool so it won’t show on lighter-colored pieces. This ensures that your project looks professional. If used, contact cement or white glue will leave a sticky residue on lighter objects.

How Do You Dissolve Rubber Cement?

To dissolve rubber cement, you need a solvent. Solvents are chemicals that mix with other chemicals, and in rubber cement’s case, ethyl acetate is an ingredient used in nail polish remover. 

Although nail polish remover can damage your hands, it is also very effective at dissolving rubber cement. However, there are safer alternative solvents like acetone or Xylene. If a few drops of nail polish remover remove all of the rubber cement residues, then more acetone will remove it even faster. 

This same principle applies when thinning oil paints. You have already thinned your paint to what you think might be acceptable consistency. But if it is still too thick, add a bit thinner (acetone) until it looks perfect. 

How Toxic is Rubber Cement?

Most people know that rubber cement is toxic. When used as directed, it won’t kill you but will make you sick (and your floor sticky). It’s made from a solvent called naphtha, which contains toluene and benzene.

Chemicals are also known to cause central nervous system damage in large doses. Toluene has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches, and even heart problems. 

Most chemical manufacturers have pledged not to use it anymore because of its toxicity. Benzene is well known for causing leukemia. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in rubber cement are also extremely flammable.

The vapors can build up over time and slowly enter your air ducts or crawl spaces, where they could be ignited by a pilot light or spark plug or accumulate until they explode one day.

What Will Rubber Cement Stick To?

Before buying a bottle of rubber cement, knowing what surfaces will work with it is good. In general, rubber cement should stick to any porous or absorbent material. This includes paper, glass, cloth, and most plastics (polycarbonate and polypropylene are two exceptions).

Remember, it won’t bleed when you paint over it with watercolors or markers. 

So chances are good that you can glue your elements together with rubber cement. It also works well on nonporous materials like metal and ceramic. Don’t use rubber cement on unfinished wood. Once it dries, it cannot be removed without damage to your furniture or tabletop. Be sure to test first in an inconspicuous spot!