Wood Glue Vs. Liquid Nails. The Complete Pros and Cons?

Choosing the right product to use for your project can sometimes be an easy feat, but other times, it can take a bit more research into your decision. If you are contemplating using wood glue vs. liquid nails, you will want to know the pros and cons of each and when one option would be preferable over the other.

Wood glue and liquid nails are both designed to create a bond between two surfaces. Both can be used on surfaces other than wood, although liquid nails will hold a stronger bond. Wood glue is for smaller projects, safer, and easier to use and clean up than its industrial-strength counterpart.

Still, both of these products definitely have their advantages depending on the type of project you are working on. While some do-it-yourself project amateurs would argue that wood glue and liquid nails are interchangeable, the pros would tell you that these two products, while serving the same general purpose, have differences that make them unique. To help you in your decision-making process, we have created a list of pros and cons to wood glue and liquid nails. Let’s take a closer look.

How Do Wood Glue and Liquid Nails Compare?

Truly, it is important to discover the various ways that using wood glue versus liquid nails will impact the final results of your project- whatever that might be. Knowing some of the pros and cons of each of these types of structural adhesives can help you to make the right choice in which product to go with for your project.

Wood glue and liquid nails can be compared in their variety of uses, drying time, the strength of the bond, safety (for use and removal), ease of use, and cleanup. Specifically, you will find that wood glue is not quite as strong as liquid nails, but it is much easier, quicker, and safer to use on most projects.

Still, if you are wanting to use the industrial-strength that liquid nails can offer you, and you are prepared to use this product safely (and given the appropriate drying time), it can make quite a difference in the lasting impact on your final project. With that said, let’s look at some of the main differences (and pros and cons) between using wood glue vs. liquid nails to see how they compare.

Variety of Uses

When it comes to comparing wood glue versus liquid nails, their variety of uses is a great place to start. Particularly, you can look at how each of these products can be used on a variety of surfaces (not just wood, interestingly), and then you can also determine how these products can best serve a specific purpose depending on the goal of your project.

Wood Glue

When it comes to wood glue, there are a few key factors to consider in terms of its variety of uses. First, you should know that wood glue can be used on more than just wood. In fact, it can be used to bind a variety of surfaces together including wood to metal, plastic, and other types of surfaces. Of course, it is most commonly used as a wood adhesive, but this is not the only way that it can be used.

This is helpful to know if you are looking to work on your woodworking project but are not actually hoping to bind wood to wood in your project. If you are looking to bind the wood to a piece of decorative metal, for example, wood glue can still be an option for the type of adhesive that will work best.

Of course, the strength of the bond will vary depending on the type of surface as well as the amount of the product that you use, but we will dive more into the strength of the bond later. For now, it is important to note that you can use this as an adhesive when attempting to get two slabs or pieces of wood to stick together or when attempting to adhere to other surfaces.

It is also important to recognize that wood glue can be used from small to large scale projects depending on the end result that you desire. Wood glue does not have as strong of an adhesive bond as liquid nails, but this does not mean that it cannot be applied to longer slabs of wood. If you are attempting to use wood glue for a large scale project, just be sure that you allow it to dry correctly and apply a generous amount.

Pros: Wood glue can work as an adhesive on a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, plastic, and more.

Cons: Wood glue may require a more generous portion to be applied for use on large scale projects.

Liquid Nails

When it comes to liquid nails, there is a considerable variety of uses with this product as well, but you will want to make sure to use these with much more caution than when using wood glue. We will get more into the safety precautions to take when using this product later on, but it should be noted that liquid nails should not be used on every project- even though they can provide a strong adhesive bond.

Still, liquid nails can provide an industrial-grade adhesive to just about any surface including wood, metal, plastic, and more. If you are working on a larger scale woodworking project, liquid nails will be able to provide the structural stability that you might be looking for- the type that comes from real nails.

Many crafters also use small amounts of liquid nails when performing adhesive tasks on smaller projects, too. So, using liquid nails is not only reserved for industrial-sized projects, even though the bond that this product can provide is quite strong. With this in mind, it is important to use caution and to only use the amount of liquid nails that you need. A generous application of this product is not typically required to achieve your desired results.

Pros: Liquid nails can work on a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, plastic, and more. A small bit of liquid nails can go a long way for a strong adhesive bond.

Cons: Liquid nails are an industrial-grade adhesive, so it can require more cautious use.

Drying Time

Knowing that you can use wood glue and liquid nails for a variety of projects can be a great place to start. After all, if you did not even know that this was possible, then you might choose one product over the other by default rather than as an informed decision. With that said, there are many other factors that will set wood glue and liquid nails apart. Drying time (the time required in order for the product to achieve its full bonding potential) varies drastically with wood glue versus liquid nails.

Wood Glue

When it comes to wood glue and its drying time, this is going to be substantially shorter than using liquid nails. Of course, the adhesive bond that the product is creating is not going to be quite as strong, but it still requires time to dry, seal, and ensure a proper adhesion between the two surfaces to which it is applied.

Specifically, wood glue can be applied between two surfaces and begin to set in within 15-20 minutes. However, while the product will begin to dry in this little bit of time, it is recommended to wait up to 24-hours before applying any pressure (be it a test or not) to the product that you have applied the wood glue to.

You can also add clamps or some type of pressure to press the two pieces that you are using together, but this is not required when using wood glue. Of course, if you are working on a larger project, then adding pressure will help to ensure that the wood glue adheres evenly and consistently throughout the entire project.

Still, you should be able to test this out within 24-hours of applying the wood glue in the first place. So, if you are repairing those older dining room chairs and want to make sure that they are ready to go before your company arrives on the weekend, then you can start this process with wood glue about a day or two before your guests arrive, and you should be in the clear.

Pros: Wood glue is quick-drying and begins to adhere within 15-20 minutes of application. The total drying time for wood glue is roughly 24-hours.

Cons: The strength of the quicker drying wood glue will not be quite as strong as liquid nails (that take longer to dry and cure).

Liquid Nails

When it comes to drying time for liquid nails, this is going to be substantially longer than when using wood glue- but for good reason. Liquid nails work to create an industrial-strength bond that requires more time for drying and curing.

Specifically, when using liquid nails, you will need to use some type of clamp or device that can add evenly distributed pressure to the surface of the pieces you are wishing to adhere. This is not a mere suggestion with this type of product, but liquid nails require clamping or another form of evenly distributed pressure to form the secure bond that it can provide.

More so, you will need to apply the brace or clamp for a minimum of a 24-hour period when using liquid nails. Then, you should avoid adding pressure or testing out the bond of the adhesive for up to one week from the time of application. This is to ensure that the liquid nails have had a chance to fully harden and cure, providing the industrial-grade adhesive for your project.

As you can see, the drying time with liquid nails is going to be remarkably higher than the drying time associated with wood glue. However, the consequential bond that is created by the two products is in direct correlation with the amount of drying and curing time needed.

Pros: Liquid nails require a high drying time and added pressure to create an industrial-grade adhesive bond.

Cons: It will take a more diligent process for the complete curation of liquid nails compared to an easier setup and lessened drying time with wood glue.

Strength of Bond

The strength of the bond of the two types of adhesives- wood glue and liquid nails- is something that has come up quite a bit in this article already. And, for good reason. The strength of the bond that is applied when using these two types of products can be the primary reason that you would choose one product over the other (or vice versa). Knowing how much pressure one can uphold compared to the other can be a complete decision-making game changer.

Wood Glue

The strength of the adhesive bond with wood glue is not industrial-grade like you will find with liquid nails, but it is still structurally sound. With this in mind, it is important to reiterate that wood glue can be used as an adhesive on a variety of surfaces- not just wood. Still, it is designed to work best with wood, and using high-quality wood glue should leave you satisfied with the adhesive results at the end of your project.

Specifically, many people find that when using the appropriate instructions (especially giving wood glue long enough to fully dry and cure before applying any pressure), they are able to rely on the construction-like quality of adhesion that wood glue can provide.

Even so, wood glue can be used on smaller projects (such as if someone clumsily knocks over a decorative wooden piece in your home and you need to piece it back together), or it can be used on larger projects, too. Of course, if you are wanting to make sure that it truly sticks to last, then you will apply evenly distributed pressure to the piece after you have placed the wood glue on. This will help to create a tight bond between the two pieces of your structure.

Pros: Wood glue can create a strong bond between a variety of surfaces, not just wood.

Cons: Sometimes, evenly distributed pressure is needed to provide a strong bond between the pieces to which the wood glue is applied.

Liquid Nails

When it comes to the strength of the bond of liquid nails, you can rest assured that once you apply this product, your project will not be coming apart any time soon. This is because liquid nails are able to provide an industrial-grade adhesion on your project- on a variety of surfaces, at that. This means that using this product will be like using the real deal when it comes to nails- you just will not see the nail marks or holes left behind on the opposite side.

Of course, the strong bond that liquid nails are able to provide for your project will entirely depend on your ability to appropriately apply the product. This means that even though the drying time for liquid nails is much higher than that of wood glue, you must not fall into the temptation to test out the strength of the bond until the allotted time has passed (up to a week of drying time).

If you were to test out the bond before the liquid nails have fully dried and cured, then you may find that it pulls apart the adhesive product, and the cure is not able to fully take place as intended. When this occurs, even if you were to place back the pressure on your project, the drying process would have been disrupted, the liquid nails would have been adjusted in terms of even application, and the strength of the bond could diminish.

Almost like a layer of velcro or a band-aid that has been ripped off, liquid nails that have been disrupted in their drying and curing will have a diminished adhesive capacity. So, you will want to allow liquid nails to have the appropriate drying and curing time, but if you are sure to apply this product correctly, you can rest assured that your project will not be able to be pulled apart- especially at the points where the liquid nails were applied.

Pros: Liquid nails provide an industrial-grade adhesive bond and are unlikely to come apart.

Cons: You must ensure proper application, drying, and curing time to allow for the strong bond of the liquid nails to completely set in.


When it comes to safety between the two products (wood glue and liquid nails), there are a few areas that need to be more closely examined. First, you need to consider the safety of using the product in terms of fumes or potential toxic inhalation. Second, you need to consider if you were to place some of this product (by accident) on an unintended location- such as your skin or on an adjacent structure near the project you are working on.

Wood Glue

Taking a closer look at safety with wood glue, there are very few concerns when working with this product. Of course, you will want to follow all safety precautions listed on the specific product that you are using, but the safety standards are relatively common sense (such as “do not consume” the product).

Even more, wood glue is not known for having toxic fumes or strong inhalants that you will need to be concerned about when using it. For this reason, unless specifically instructed based on the product description, you will not need to wear a mask or other protective gear. Of course, you can wear rubber gloves if you believe that you might be more prone to getting this product on your skin, but it is not required.

Even at that, if you were to accidentally get wood glue on your skin or place it on a structure adjacent to the project you were working on, wood glue (before it has dried and cured) can typically be removed with soap and water. Of course, once the wood glue has had a chance to fully dry and cure, you will have to be a little more cautious in how you remove it (depending on what you are removing it from), but it still should not be difficult to remove from your skin.

Pros: Wood glue is safe to use with minimal protective gear needed, and it is easy to remove from your skin.

Cons: You will need to ensure removal as quickly as possible to avoid removal after the wood glue has had a chance to cure.

Liquid Nails

Using liquid nails is not quite as easy in terms of safety as using wood glue is, and this has much to do with its industrial purposes. Specifically, because it is such a strong product that offers a construction level adhesion, you will need to be much more cautious when using this product compared with using wood glue.

In terms of fumes and toxic inhalants, you will need to wear a mask when using liquid nails, especially if you will be using a large amount of the product or will be exposed to the product for a prolonged period. Liquid nails are incredibly strong, and their fumes are strong as well. This means, of course, that you will want to take caution not to breathe in these fumes, and these implications can be even more severe for people with health concerns.

Even more, because liquid nails form such a strong bond, they can be incredibly difficult to remove from the surfaces they are applied to. This includes if you were to accidentally get liquid nails on your skin or if you were to drip some of the product on a portion of your project you did not intend to. With this in mind, be sure to have a strong type of removal product available just in case, and be sure to remove the product as quickly and safely as possible before it cures.

Pros: Liquid nails form an incredibly strong bond and take a longer time to cure, but you will still need to act quickly and cautiously when removing this product from the skin.

Cons: Liquid nails require more safety precautions due to fumes, toxic inhalants, and the potential to damage the skin if it comes into contact with it.

Ease of Use

Finally, when comparing the two products wood glue and liquid nails, it is important to take a look at how easy the products are to use including the initial application as well as the cleanup process. Some of this is tied into the safety precautions necessary when working with the products, and some of this is more directly related to the distribution of the product itself.

Wood Glue

When it comes to wood glue, this product is pretty easy to use. There is minimal setup required before using wood glue, and there are minimal safety precautions that you will need to adhere to when using the product. For example, if you were working with a small decorative piece that had a broken portion, you could go to your cabinet, grab out the wood glue, begin applying it, and leave it to dry for just 24-hours max.

There are very few precautions that you would need to take because the wood glue is so easy and safe to work with. And, because there are so few precautions, this can make the overall application a bit easier to work with, too. Since you will not be as worried about getting this on your skin, for example, you can even touch up a project with the tip of your finger if need be, and although this is not strongly desired, it would not be difficult to remove the product from your skin.

With that, you can more accurately apply this product or even use a very small, precise paintbrush to be able to apply the product with greater precision. And, since it does not require clamping and has a shorter drying time, you can set the project aside once you have applied the wood glue and wait a much shorter time for the end result to be achieved. Then, if you notice any areas that need to be cleaned up, you can typically do this quickly with soap and water before the wood glue has hardened.

Pros: Wood glue is very easy to use and clean up and requires very few precautions.

Cons: You might need more product application with wood glue to achieve a strong bond.

Liquid Nails

When it comes to the ease of use with liquid nails, this is a bit different. Liquid nails are not overly difficult to apply and distribute, but they do require a significant increase in safety precautions needed before you can begin applying the product.

For example, if you were to be working with the same decorative project as described above, but were using liquid nails instead of wood glue, you would need to take a few safety precautions first before applying the product. Specifically, you would need a mask to prevent fume inhalation, and you would want to wear protective gloves or clothing when possible.

You would also want to be much more cautious when applying liquid nails so that you would not have to remove it from your skin (as this can be much more difficult and unsafe) or have to attempt to clean this up from a surface that it was not meant to be applied to. So, using the product and applying it to the surfaces that you are intending will not be too difficult, but you will need to take a few more precautions (as well as using clamping or pressure-adding devices once you have applied the liquid nails), which can make the entire process a bit longer.

Pros: Liquid nails are not difficult to distribute to various surfaces.

Cons: More precautions will need to be taken for the safe use of this product, and clamping the two surfaces together is required for the bond adherence with liquid nails.

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