How to Glue Cardboard: Cosplay Adhesive Guide

November 13, 2019

When it comes to cosplaying on a budget or building in some particular styles (like 8-bit or Minecraft), cardboard is a great material to play around with because of its low cost, light weight, and sharp angles. If you're considering building your next suit of armor, prop, or other cosplay element from cardboard, you'll want to be sure you're using the right adhesive for the job. There are several glue options that actually work well with cardboard, and because of its texture, cardboard tends to be relatively easy to glue.

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Depending on your exact design and situation, one cosplay adhesive might be better for your cardboard cosplay than another. In this post, we'll explain how to glue cardboard with the best adhesives for your particular project as well as mention a few glues that will work in an emergency.

Best Cosplay Glues for Cardboard

PVA white glue for cosplaying with cardboard
  1. PVA/white glue: PVA glue, or white school glue, is one of the most common adhesives for working with paper or cardboard materials in a wide range of crafts. In cosplay specifically, white glue is a great option for attaching cardboard to itself or gluing small elements to your cardboard pieces. It's got general strength and is very inexpensive, and dries clear, making it a standby for cosplayers who are working with cardboard for armor, props, and more.

  2. Attach & Build double-sided adhesive sheets: If you're looking for an all-around adhesive solution for cardboard and more, one of the most versatile and easy-to-use adhesives you can turn to is Attach & Build. Attach & Build is an adhesive that's sandwiched between peel and stick sheets that can be cut to whatever size and shape you need. The super-strong adhesive will permanently stick cardboard to just about any other material you need to attach it to, and it can be cut through after application if necessary. With Attach & Build, there are no fumes, no mess, and no dry time, meaning you can instantly bond your cardboard pieces without having to wait for glue to dry.

  3. E-6000: If you're building something more structural out of cardboard, another good adhesive option might be a tube of E-6000. E-6000 is an industrial strength glue that's compatible with cardboard as well as other more difficult to glue materials, like metal. It's ideal for heavier construction and could potentially hold end seams together if given proper time to cure (generally 24 and 72 hours). While the dry time is a potential drawback of working with the glue, the strength of the bond can be worth the wait. However, E-6000 does produce harmful fumes as you use it, so you should be sure to apply it only when wearing a mask and/or working in a well-ventilated area.

    Cosplayer using spray adhesive on cardboard
  4. Spray adhesive: Another option for gluing cardboard, especially to other paper elements, is spray adhesive. Spray adhesive for crafts is sold in a variety of different strengths and formulations, but the application method is probably what gives it the most advantages over the other glues on this list. Especially if you're layering flat cardboard surfaces together, the aerosol formula will allow you to cover large (or small) surface areas of cardboard incredibly quickly. While you'll need to cover your workspace to protect from overspray and it may not be the most convenient glue for tiny details, spray adhesive makes it easy to cover the entire piece of cardboard you need to attach.

  5. Hot glue: Finally, hot glue is a good option for cardboard cosplays because it's easy to apply in precise patterns and sets relatively quickly. Hot glue is also pretty versatile, making it easy to attach your cardboard elements to most other cosplay materials (with a few exceptions, like insulation foam or thin fabrics that will show). The only thing to be wary about is hot glue is the potential for reactivation if your cosplay is in the heat for too long while you're wearing it. Otherwise, it's a convenient adhesive for cardboard work.

Other Cardboard Glues in a Pinch

As far as adhesives go, cardboard is incredibly versatile and reacts well to many common glues you might already have on hand. The adhesive you choose will likely depend on a few factors, including the particular adhesion situation, what you already have, and cost, just to name a few. However, the plus side to this versatility means that if it comes down to it, you have a lot of glues you can fall back on if something goes wrong or you run out of the adhesive you're working with. While they may not be the best adhesives you'll want to reach for first, here are a few more glues that could work with cardboard in a pinch:

Stack of corrugated cardboard for cosplay building
  • Mod Podge: Commonly used for decoupage, Mod Podge is a semi-permanent adhesive that works with cardboard. The bond you get might not be quite as strong, and it doesn't work as well on other materials, but it can certainly work on cardboard if you need it to.

  • Rubber cement: While rubber cement is known to crack and pull apart after time, you can use rubber cement short-term on your cardboard if you need to.

  • Super glue: While super glue is not recommended for porous materials like corrugated cardboard, it can work as a backup option for rigid carton or box cardboard, especially if you just need to make a quick repair.

  • Tacky glue: A bottle of tacky glue probably won't give you the strongest bond either, but it is designed for crafting purposes and will stick to cardboard in non-weight-bearing situations.

Overall, while you can technically use a wide variety of glues for your cardboard cosplay elements, it's always best to weight your options to ensure you're making the best choice for your build.

Topics: Cosplay Adhesive Guide, Cardboard

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