What Is PVA (Polyvinyl Acetates) Glue And How Is It Use In Model Building?

One misconception about glue is thinking that all glues are the same or there’s only one kind of glue in general. However, a huge variety of glues are actually available in the market. Among these is the PVA glue, commonly used when doing handcrafted work, woodwork, drywalling your home, or in a model building. 

Some of you might have heard about PVA glues for the first time, but in reality, PVA glues are pretty common and can be used on different occasions. They come in handy in doing different DIY projects or making a few repairs at home. Depending on the use and application, glue is very helpful in patching things together fast and easy – perfect strength but not entirely permanent. 

Learn more about PVA glue, its properties, and how to use it in model building. 

What is PVA Glue?

glue in a white bottle and green cap

PVA glue is glue with a mixture of a special additive, which makes it quite a bit special. Polyvinyl Acetate, commonly known as PVA, is a type of thermosoft plastic (thermoplastic) belonging to the family of polyvinyl ester. Fritz Klatte discovered the PVA glue in 1912 by polymerizing vinyl alcohol. PVA glue is quite common among people and is often called school glue, white glue, or wood glue.

Polyvinyl Acetates are clear and odorless polymers with a rubbery texture. They help in sealing up porous materials, such as rocks and woods. PVAs are thick polymers, which is why they can cover holes in porous areas and create a smooth surface when applying paint or stain. 

A PVA glue effectively joins together two porous surfaces, like fabric, paper, and wood. The polymers in the glue increase the grip and fastening of the two surfaces, creating a sturdy hold. 

Different Types of PVA Glue


Even though PVA glue is already a different kind of glue, this glue still comes in various types with slight but notable differences. The first type is the Standard PVA glue which is ideal for binding cardboard and paper. The other type is PVA Wood Glue, designed specifically for absorbing into wooden surfaces, intensifying its adhesive properties when dealing with wood. Another type is water-resistant PVA glue, which has enough strength and stickiness to hold out against mildew and moisture but enough to dissolve when immersed in water. 

There is also the “white glue” commonly used in bookbinding and other school works, and the “carpenter’s glue,” a wood glue with a bit of a yellowish tinge. These glues are also PVA glue and can be used in different materials, such as paper, wood, etc., compatible with PVA glues.


man applying glue on wood

Suitable for porous materials

One main characteristic of PVA glue is that it is compatible with porous materials. The glue is easily absorbed in porous surfaces, so when it dries out, it provides a strong hold between the two materials the glue has absorbed into. Porous materials like cardboard, cloth, paper, and wood are perfect for PVA glue. 


PVA glue is non-acidic, so it doesn’t alter the pH level of the material to which the glue sticks. Acidic materials could easily deteriorate paper, so it would not be a great idea to use acidic glue in bookbinding or in gluing paper in general. Since PVA glue is non-acidic, it is a great alternative for binding paper.


PVA glues can dissolve water, so if you need to apply thin and even coats of PVA glue, you may dilute it in water. However, the downside is that since PVA glue is water soluble, dried glue can be easily dissolved when it’s submerged in water, decreasing the hold of the PVA glue. 


Other polymer-based glues you know may emit an unpleasant odor, but PVA glue isn’t one of them. This glue has no unpleasant solvent-like odor that might irritate the nose, which is why it is safe for children. 

Clear and flexible even when dry

Another great property of PVA glue is its appearance and flexibility even when dry. It is ideal to use PVA glue for arts and crafts and DIY stuff since the glue dries out in clear color and does not affect and destroy the appearance of your artwork. And unlike other glues that turn yellow over time, PVA glue remains clear even after a long time. This glue is flexible even when dry, an important aspect when bookbinding or woodworking. 

How is PVA Glue Used in Model Building?

applying glue on a model building

We must always highlight the importance of picking the right glue for building models to build your model successfully. There are different types of glue used in model kits, and PVA glue is one of them. 

PVA glues have been used for decades in model building. However, it was eventually phased out as a model building glue. Despite that, PVA glues remain useful in making dioramas and other art crafts. 

PVA glue dries slowly, taking as much as 24 hours to dry out completely. However, the good news is that PVA glue drying out slow allows plenty of time for modifications and improvement on your model. Once the PVA glue dries out completely, it creates a clear and transparent look that would not alter the aesthetic value of the model you’re building. PVA glue’s finish usually depends on the brand you are using – there may sometimes be a glossy finish, and some brands also offer a matte finish. 

You may use PVA glue in two different ways. The first is to apply it to a surface neatly, and then you can now attach different elements you want, such as construction figures, grass, other greeneries, rocks, wooden materials, and much more. Do not worry about PVA glue not sticking since it is compatible with porous surfaces. You may also apply your PVA glue on top of resin water, pour it inside an airbrush, and use the airbrush to spread the glue randomly on any area to create a ripple effect. 

Another smart way of using PVA glue is diluting it in water and combining a small amount of dishwashing soap to create a perfect formula for “scenic glue.” You may apply this formula using a spray bottle or a pipette to stick different materials, like flocks and sand, to create the ground on your model. Since PVA glue is compatible with porous materials, the glue could flow into the gaps of the materials, allowing a strong adhesion on the surface they are on. 

After that, you may spray it with isopropyl alcohol to break down the surface tension, allowing the PVA glue to flow nicely. It would also serve as a sealer before you proceed to the next step in building your model. And if you still aren’t satisfied with the outcome of your model, you can easily clean up the uncured PVA glue with a damp cloth and reposition your materials until you achieve your desired outcome.