What is the Best Glue for Ceramics?

Breaking and destroying ceramic items would always happen from time to time. Sometimes, it would be frustrating, especially if you broke your favorite ceramic or the most expensive one you have. However, repairing your broken ceramic would be a piece of cake with the help of the best glues for ceramics on the market. 

Do not feel hopeless after dropping your ceramic item as long as you have all the broken pieces and find the best ceramic glue. Having high-quality ceramic glue would help you fix your small and big ceramic problems. Ceramic glues could fix small chips from your ceramic or even large broken ceramic items. Aside from that, these glues can also fix ceramic countertops and even tiles made of ceramic. 

The best glues for ceramic are actually considered great all-around adhesives. Glues like these are strong, durable, quick-drying, and have a great finish. It would help if you have a specialty glue for ceramics, but glues like epoxies and super glues would also work well. 

When purchasing ceramic glue, you’ll have to consider many things, especially the type of ceramic you need to fix. You also need to check its consistency and ensure that it has a perfect consistency that could stay put on your ceramic and, at the same time, is easy to apply. 

Guide To Buying Ceramic Adhesives

There are different types of ceramics, and they could also crack differently. This is why it is essential first to know your item and analyze the break before choosing what would be the best ceramic glue to use. 

Ceramic glues have different chemical compositions, meaning they will also have varying results when applied to ceramic. One ceramic glue may be suited for one type of ceramic and situation than the other. This is why it is important to pick the right glue for building broken ceramic pieces to avoid further damaging your ceramic. 

Here are some of the best glues for ceramic and their characteristics. 

Super Glues

a small white tube of super glue

Cyanoacrylate glue, commonly known as super glue, is a strong ceramic glue that sets and cures quickly and easily. Many super glues come in different consistencies and viscosities, but most have a thin consistency and are less viscous than other adhesives like epoxy. Because of this, super glue is perfect for small ceramic repairs, like gluing ceramic edges or filling in small cracks on the ceramic. 

One downside of super glue is that it dries up very quickly, which is why it’s not open to mistakes. Once they dried up, your actions might already be limited, and you cannot move or modify the ceramic easily. 

Aside from that, because super glues easily dry up, they have a shorter shelf life. However, other super glues have longer shelf life than others, so make sure to choose one with a longer life span if you want to use the super glue for a long time. Aside from that, you must also practice closing the lid very tightly and storing your glue in cold temperatures to prevent them from drying up faster.

Epoxy Glue

Epoxy glue is divided into two parts – epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. These two parts are mixed to create a strong adhesive. Mixing the resin and hardener also allows epoxy glue to have a longer shelf life than super glues. 

Unlike super glues, epoxy glues take longer to set and cure. However, this would be very helpful if you want to make some adjustments and modifications to the broken ceramic pieces you’re gluing together. 

Epoxy glues also have thicker consistencies and are more viscous than super glues, which is why they look like thick pastes. Because of this, epoxy glue would be helpful if you want to fill a huge gap in your broken ceramic. The epoxy glue could serve as a ceramic filler for the missing pieces on the ceramic object you are repairing. 

Waterproof Polyurethane Glue

When dealing with broken ceramic vases and other ceramic items constantly exposed to water, it is important to get waterproof glue. The waterproof polyurethane glue is ideal for these ceramic items as it doesn’t break down when constantly exposed or submerged in water. 

This polyurethane glue is water-activated and expands three sizes larger in the broken ceramic item to form a durable and tight bond that could last a very long time. This glue may also be used for different materials, such as concrete, foam, glass, metal, stone, and wood, making it a perfect alternative when you run out of model glue

Things to Consider Before Buying Ceramic Glue

man fixing a broken ceramic item using a small tube of glue

Identify the Ceramic Type

Understanding the specific type of ceramic you are dealing with is crucial when selecting an adhesive. Ceramics can broadly be categorized into earthenware, stoneware, porcelain, and advanced ceramics, each with unique characteristics that influence the choice of adhesive.

  • Earthenware is one of the oldest and most common types of ceramic. It is porous, relatively soft, and can absorb water if not glazed. An adhesive for earthenware should ideally penetrate its porous surface for a strong bond, so a flexible, moisture-resistant adhesive might be best.
  • Stoneware is a denser, more durable type of ceramic that is waterproof and more resistant to temperature changes. It requires an adhesive that can handle its strength and non-porous nature, often necessitating a stronger, more rigid bonding agent.
  • Porcelain is known for its fine quality, strength, and durability, thanks to being fired at high temperatures. It is non-porous and translucent. An adhesive for porcelain repairs needs to be potent enough to handle its smooth surface and possibly high thermal expansion coefficient.
  • Advanced Ceramics include materials like alumina and silicon carbide, used in industrial and high-tech applications. Repairs to these materials, although less common in everyday contexts, require specialized adhesives that can withstand extreme conditions, such as high temperatures and corrosive environments.

Drying Time and Opacity

All glues have different drying times depending on their chemical composition. The fastest glue to set and cure is super glue. It would take less than a minute for super glues to set and only several hours to cure completely. This means you are allowed only a very limited adjustment time. For fast-drying glues like this, make sure to dry-fit the pieces before gluing to ensure that you attach the pieces properly. Epoxies, on the other hand, would take approximately thirty seconds to five minutes to set and about ten minutes to several hours to fully cure. 

For drying opacity, most ceramic glues would have a clear finish, so it wouldn’t be evident that there’s glue on the ceramic. However, some adhesives may change colors as soon as they dry – they tend to have a yellowish finish. So when you want to use ceramic glue as fillers, ensure that their finish is the same colors as the ceramic object you are repairing. 

Food Safety

When repairing ceramic items, such as plates and cups used for food, ensure you get a “food-safe” glue. Ceramic adhesives have a strong hold because of their chemical properties, which are not entirely safe to consume. 

Super glues consist of cyanoacrylate, a chemical not for consumption as it could cause stomachache and skin irritation. When you repair ceramic objects used for food, look for an FDA-approved glue. If the glue has a certification from the FDA, it is food-safe. 

Waterproof and Temperature Resistant

Some ceramic glues may be water-resistant but not waterproof, and some may be neither. Water-resistant but not waterproof ceramic adhesives mean they can be exposed to moisture, mildew, and other types of liquid from time to time, but they cannot be submerged in water as they could lose their bond. One example of a water-resistant ceramic glue is super glue. However, if your ceramic item is constantly exposed to liquid, it is safer to get waterproof ceramic glue, such as epoxy. 

You should also get a temperature-resistant adhesive for your outdoor ceramic items. Temperature-resistant glues would help, especially if your item is constantly exposed to extreme hot and cold temperatures. A temperature-resistant glue would ensure that the glue will stay for a long time and hold the broken ceramic pieces together even with varying temperatures. 

Opt for Color Matching or Paintable Options

For repairs where the aesthetics are as important as the structural integrity, the color of the adhesive plays a significant role. A mismatched adhesive can be visually jarring, especially on items with a uniform appearance or in visible repair areas.

  • Color Matching: Some adhesives are designed to match common ceramic colors closely, making them less noticeable upon application. This is particularly useful for items with a solid color or for repairs in less conspicuous areas. When a direct color match is available, it can provide a seamless repair that maintains the item’s original appearance.
  • Paintable Options: When a perfect color match isn’t possible, adhesives that can be painted over offer a versatile solution. These adhesives cure to a surface that can be easily sanded smooth and then painted. This allows for a high degree of customization, enabling the repair to blend in with any ceramic pattern or color scheme. It’s essential to ensure that the adhesive is fully cured and that any paint used is compatible with both the adhesive and the ceramic’s surface.

Whether choosing a color-matched adhesive or opting for a paintable option, the goal is to achieve a repair that is not only strong and durable but also aesthetically pleasing. Attention to color and finish can significantly impact the restored item’s appearance, making the repair virtually invisible or turning it into a feature that adds character.

Ceramics and Glue – 10 Useful Facts

Kintsugi beige bowl. Gold cracks restoration on old Japanese pottery restored with the antique Kintsugi restoration technique. The beauty of imperfections. japanese pottery repair gold. japanese art of repairing cracks with gold. japanese art of fixing broken pottery
Kintsugi beige bowl. Gold cracks restoration on old Japanese pottery restored with the antique Kintsugi restoration technique. 
  1. Ancient Repairs: Archaeologists have found evidence of ancient civilizations using natural adhesives to repair broken ceramics. This practice dates back thousands of years, indicating an early understanding of adhesive properties and their application in pottery repair.
  2. Kintsugi Art: Kintsugi is a traditional Japanese art form that uses lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum to repair broken ceramics. This method not only fixes the item but also adds unique beauty to the cracks, celebrating the history of the object rather than hiding its imperfections.
  3. Epoxy Resins: In modern repairs, epoxy resins are commonly used to bond ceramic pieces due to their strong adhesive properties and durability. Once cured, high-quality epoxy can be as strong or stronger than the ceramic itself, making it an ideal choice for repairs.
  4. Thermal Expansion Matching: When selecting adhesives for ceramic repair or bonding, it’s crucial to consider the thermal expansion properties of both the glue and the ceramic. Mismatches in thermal expansion can lead to stress and eventual failure of the bond under temperature changes.
  5. Chemical Resistance: Ceramics are often used in chemically harsh environments due to their resistance to corrosion. The glues used in bonding ceramic components in such settings need to have similar chemical resistance to maintain the integrity of the bond over time.
  6. UV Light Curing Adhesives: Some modern adhesives used with ceramics can be cured quickly with UV light. This technology allows for fast repairs and manufacturing processes, providing strong bonds that are resistant to moisture and temperature variations.
  7. Archaeological Conservation: In the field of archaeological conservation, adhesives play a crucial role in the restoration and preservation of ceramic artifacts. Conservators must carefully select adhesives that will not degrade over time or harm the original materials.
  8. Food Safety Considerations: When repairing ceramics that will come into contact with food, such as dishes or cups, it’s essential to use adhesives that are food safe once fully cured. Not all glues meet these criteria, so selecting the right product is critical.
  9. Porosity of Ceramics: The effectiveness of an adhesive on a ceramic surface can be influenced by the porosity of the ceramic. Highly porous ceramics may require different adhesives or surface treatments compared to more vitrified, less porous ceramics.
  10. 3D Ceramic Printing and Adhesives: In the realm of 3D printing, adhesives are used to join ceramic components printed in parts. This approach allows for the creation of complex ceramic structures that would be difficult or impossible to produce as a single piece. Specialized adhesives are developed to withstand the firing process, ensuring the structural integrity of the final product.