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Ever wondered which adhesive works well with rhinestones?
And so we decided to do a little research of our own with flat back rhinestones. These are some of our observations.
In general, super glue is not suitable for flat back rhinestones and pointed back rhinestones with silver foil backing. This is because it tends to cloud the rhinestones when the glue interacts with the silver foil. The picture below shows a close-up of a flat back rhinestone with the silver foil backing clouded by super glue.
Clouded flat back rhinestone
As for suitable surfaces; metal, glass, ceramics and some plastics are fine with super glue. However, it cannot be used on most polystyrene/styrofoam and paper clay surfaces as it eats into it. The picture below shows a part of the styrofoam eaten into when attempting to adhere a glossy pearl flat back rhinestone with super glue. It is also best not to used it on flexible material such as paper, rubber or fabric.
Super glue is fast drying and dries like glass, therefore it shatters like glass upon hard impact or if the bond is broken. It sticks fast which makes it difficult to reposition or remove a flat back rhinestone if a mistake is made. It has a strong bond, is waterproof and dries clear, however, some brands may look a little powdery white on certain surfaces (read the product label carefully). Super glue can be quite runny and large amounts come out if the tube or bottle is squeezed hard. Apply sparingly or the excess will ooze out from under the flat back of the rhinestones. Any glue that gets onto the rhinestone is not easily removed and will give the rhinestone a blurred effect. Try as much as possible not to have any contact with skin. It hardens and dries so fast that it'll be a few days before the skin feels normal again. Not a convenient adhesive to remove so do take care.
A fun adhesive to use. It comes in the form of a glue stick that is inserted into a hot glue gun. Once the gun is heated up, the glue stick melts for application.
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
This is a fast drying glue and there is little room for error so be sure to get the positioning correct. Press the flat back rhinestone down fast or the glue may solidify thick and create a gap between the rhinestone and the surface. On the plus side, it can be used in place of 3d foam dots and it costs less too!
Glue hardened thick under a flat back rhinestone
Hot glue is generally suitable for larger items like the 10mm flat back rhinestone in the picture above. It would be tricky to use hot glue on smaller items like 2.5mm flat back rhinestones.
. It can be quite stringy as it cools and the strings a little messy to remove. It dries clear but tends to yellow with age. However, some brands have coloured glue sticks available so this is definitely a glue with possibilities. It allows glued items to be separated again relatively easily if required, and if all else fails just heat it up again with a hairdryer. Hot glue is suitable for most surfaces, like hard plastics, foam, paper products, wood, clay and glass. Do note, however, that you should avoid using it on surfaces that are subject to high temperatures as that would make the glue re-melt. Be careful when handling hot glue, it may not appear to be hot but it is and can cause burns on skin.
Epoxy Resin Adhesives
An interesting adhesive that comes in two parts; a resin and a hardener, that have to be mixed together. The formula is often equal parts resin and hardener, however, instructions vary with each manufacturer so it is best to read the product label with care as inaccurate measuring and mixing will prevent the resin from curing and hardening. There are many kinds of epoxy resins available, from the heavy duty industrial types to the milder, less toxic, user-friendly, off-the-shelf variety.
We tried the user-friendly kind on some flat back rhinestones. In general, the resin mixture is initially runny and can be a little slippery, making it tricky to attach the rhinestones. After a couple of minutes the mixture gets stickier and more syrupy, this is when the glue is easier to manage. However, this process can be wasteful and time consuming, specially when used with numerous small objects like flat back rhinestones. This is because after attaching a couple of rhinestones, the initial resin mixture becomes too stiff to continue to be applied properly, and another mixture will have to be made before glueing can commence again. This is especially so with quick drying resins, hence, it would be better to source for slower curing variations.
Hardened resin mixture
Epoxy resins are strong bonding adhesives that are suitable for use on glass, metal, porcelain, rigid plastic and wood. It is not as suitable on fabric as other flexible glues. The flat back rhinestones break away easily from the cloth, with some of the silver foil backing torn off.
Torn silver foil backing from flat back rhinestone
Nevertheless, epoxy resins are adjustable adhesives that can be made flexible or rigid depending on the different components added to the resin. Most epoxy resins dry clear, but once again, depending on the chemical elements added to the resin, it can be made to dry opaque as well. Always work in a well ventilated area and avoid skin contact when mixing and handling resins. Some resins can be very toxic and give out a strong, vaporous ordour. Read the product label carefully, use gloves or barrier cream to protect your hands and take all necessary precautions suggested. Measured, mixed and managed with care, the epoxy resin is a good, strong adhesive that does not cloud rhinestones.
A versatile adhesive that is waterproof, flexible and dries clear. It is slow drying and if you squeeze out a lump, the outer layer will slowly harden first. Since it solidifies slowly, rhinestones can be positioned and repositioned several times within 5-10 minutes after the initial attachment. This makes it easy to maneuver the flat back rhinestones around. As it begins to cure, the E-6000 can be a tad stringy if left exposed for over a minute but the strings are easily removed with a pincer. Once the glue is left to hardened overnight, the bond is very strong and durable.
E-6000 Industrial Strength Adhesive
The interesting thing about this glue is that not only does it dry hard with a very strong bond, it also has 'rubber-like' qualities. Instead of shattering like super glue, the E-6000 actually acts like a shock absorber if the piece you are working on is dropped or knocked. It is safe for use with virtually every type of rhinestones and gemstone. A tough, non-corrosive and self-leveling adhesive, it is appropriate for practically all surfaces, including wood, canvas, plastic, ceramics, vinyl, glass, paper, leather and even fabric. When glued onto fabric, the bond withstands several machine washings. It is easy and painless to remove from skin.
That's the end of our research and we hope our findings have been helpful. Do try out different types of adhesives and brands to find the one(s) that you find most suitable and comfortable to use. Before we end here are some tips that might be useful.
Tips on what to look for in adhesives for rhinestones
Non-corrosive to rhinestones
Strong and durable bond
Slow drying for easier application
Does not yellow with age
Able to be removed if accidentally gets on top of rhinestone
Tips on glueing rhinestones
Experiment with adhesives before using on actual project.
Test how well the adhesive bonds the rhinestone to the chosen surface. Different adhesives work better on different materials.
Plan the design and try out the positioning of the rhinestone before commencing with the glueing, especially with flat back rhinestones.
Use a suitable rhinestone picker tool for easier rhinestone management and handling.
It is okay to have several different types of adhesives for use on different projects.
Last but not least...have fun decorating with rhinestones!