This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
Plastic is becoming ever-present in our day-to-day lives. Plastics are durable, easy to work with, cheap, and can be made in ridiculously large quantities. It’s no surprise then, that between Europe and North America these countries use up to 200 pounds of plastic every year! However, plastic is no friend to the environment, which is why it is so important to reuse our plastic items. So, how do you repair these items if they break? Does J-B weld work on plastic? Let’s have a look.
Table of Contents
- 1 Using Epoxy to Repair Plastic
- 2 What Is The Best Adhesive for Plastic?
- 3 What to Look for When Choosing an Epoxy for Plastic
- 4 Tips for Working Safely with Epoxy
- 5 How to Remove Plastic Epoxy
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
Using Epoxy to Repair Plastic
Although plastics are pretty durable and items such as plastic furniture are nearly indestructible, there are occasions where the human experience is just too much for our beloved objects. Whether your little one’s favorite toy has been mutilated or you just botched your latest crafting project, sometimes we need something to put it all back together, and thankfully we have epoxy on our side.
Types of Adhesives for Plastics
Plastics are not naturally occurring; this means that in the beginning, it was challenging to find adhesives that could effectively bond and repair plastics. Thankfully, modern technology has provided us with epoxies, which are adhesives specifically designed to work with plastics. There are a few adhesives available for plastics, a few of which we have detailed below.
Do you remember the white glue you used as a kid to make a birthday card for your mom? Well, as effective as it was holding your card together, it will not be much help with plastic. Instead, you will need something with a bit more adhesive power, which is where reactive adhesives come into play. Reactive adhesives (unlike your white glue) are packaged in two parts, known as the epoxy and the hardener. These parts are placed inside a dual-cylinder syringe and are dispensed at the same time when the syringe plunger is pressed.
Once both of these parts come into contact with each other on your plastic surface, they will undergo a chemical reaction. This will form a powerful adhesive bond with the plastic surface.
These are used more commonly than reactive adhesives. Non-reactive adhesives do not react with the plastic surface they come in contact with, meaning that no chemical bond between the epoxy and the plastic is formed. This means that the bond between the plastic and the adhesive is objectively weaker than the reactive adhesive we mentioned previously. This type of adhesive is typically used in cases where the adhesion needs to removable or semi-permanent, such as in most superglues, thumbtacks, or sticky tape.
When you are trying to create a strong bond with damaged plastic or are trying to adhere something to a plastic surface permanently, we recommend going with a reactive adhesive instead of a non-reactive adhesive.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Epoxy Adhesives
As useful as they are, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to using epoxy adhesives. Below you will find some of the useful attributes of these products and some of the headaches they can cause if you don’t keep your eyes peeled.
Epoxy adhesives are extremely useful in situations where you need something to stick or if you need something that needs to be repaired on the spot. An epoxy can be your best friend if you are stranded in the middle of nowhere and you need a quick fix on a car bumper or door handle. They are also extremely durable and can withstand a surprising variety of forces at high intensity.
If aesthetic is a priority to you, the two-part adhesives we covered above can be dyed and colored, as well as drilled, tapped, sanded, chipped, and shaped if need be, especially when they have been properly cured and hardened.
Most adhesives of this grade can be used on glass, ceramics, cement, wood, metal, tiles, plastics, and almost anything in-between, so keeping some around will eventually pay for itself.
What makes a good epoxy glue for plastic, in particular, is the resistance to foul weather and extreme temperatures, which most good brands offer. This means that lawn furniture, outdoor lighting, and even outdoor tiling will not be a challenge for these adhesives. So, whether you feel that you could use these products at work or simply want to have some epoxy glue for plastic goods around your home, we highly recommend keeping a tube or two nearby.
As awesome as these products can be, there are a few drawbacks to having a substance that near permanently bonds two things together. We are sure that the question on your mind at this point is what to do if you want to un-glue an item, but this is often easier said than done. The good news is that it can be done with a bit of work. If you read the packaging on your epoxy, it should show you how to effectively dissolve the bond. In some cases, it could simply need a bit of acetone or alcohol, but this is not always the case and some adhesives require special substances to dissolve the bonds they form.
Even the best plastic epoxy has its drawbacks, as even if it does take a bit of alcohol to dissolve the bonds of your epoxy, it is quite messy to work with. If the brand of adhesive you choose to work with doesn’t come with a two-cylinder syringe, you will have to apply the adhesive by hand. You should always wear gloves if this is the case, as most epoxy adhesives are not only capable of damaging your skin, but fumes produced by the bonding process can be toxic if inhaled even in small volumes. Thus, you should always work in a well-ventilated area.
This is all pretty standard stuff when dealing with epoxy for plastic, but there is a little more to it. Even the best plastic epoxy has a pot life that it has to be used by once mixed, and past this point, it is essentially useless.
This can be especially frustrating when you are using the syringe, as the hardened epoxy tends to become caked in the tip, making it useless. You also need to know exactly how much epoxy and hardener you are mixing if not using a syringe, or you will end up creating a poor solution with a weak bond. Of course, this is not ideal, especially considering how expensive epoxy for plastic can be.
What Is The Best Adhesive for Plastic?
Just as adhesives come in quite a wide variety, so do the plastics they adhere to. The trick is choosing the best adhesive for your needs, which depends on the type of bond you need as well as the type of material you are working with. With this having been said, what is the best epoxy for plastic? Below are some of the best products we could find for all of your plastic workpieces.
Best Overall: GORILLA Two-Part Epoxy Syringe
Gorilla’s epoxy ticks all the boxes as the best epoxy for plastic on the market today, being not only reasonably priced but also waterproof and usable on pretty much all common plastics. In fact, Gorilla epoxy can be used on virtually any surface from woods, metals, plastics, ceramics, concrete, and anything in-between.
Gorilla epoxy even works on ceramic surfaces, saving you from heartbreak the next time you break your favorite cup or bowl. Additionally, it dries in minutes, allowing you to see instant results. With a tensile strength of 4250 pounds per square inch (psi), this product offers an incredible amount of strength and durability.
Gorilla epoxy is definitely not the cheapest product on this list, but it is arguably the most versatile, meaning that you get what you pay for. Do you need to repair that old lawn chair that’s been sitting in the rain all winter? Gorilla epoxy is weather0-resistant. Need to fill the crack in your doorframe? Gorilla epoxy can take the punishment. Have you broken the handle on the kitchen cupboard and need it fixed before anyone notices? Gorilla epoxy will dry clear and leave no evidence!
A full-grown gorilla can lift over 4000 pounds (more than 27 times their body weight) and Gorilla epoxy more than does its namesake justice, making it by far the best epoxy for plastic.
Most Practical: LOCTITE Quick Set Pro Adhesive Epoxy
Realistically, you won’t always need to glue something on the sub-atomic level. Some people just want a strong epoxy that will do its job and maybe a little more when you need it to, and for you, we present Loctite’s quick-setting, heavy duty epoxy. This product is fairly malleable once applied, allowing you to sand, chisel, flatten, and stretch the epoxy once it has cured.
This makes Loctite a bit more robust, appearing to be more conducive for rouged applications like construction and structural stability compared to the Gorilla Epoxy, although it does have slightly lower tensile strength, weighing in at roughly 3500 psi. Loctite has been around for a while; some of you might remember your dad using it to secure bolts and nuts when you were younger, and even if you don’t, their red, white, and blue color scheme has probably caught your eye in the hardware store.
This product can be used in many environments, as it is heat-resistant up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48,9 degrees Celsius) as well as resistant to water when not submerged for long periods. Like the Gorilla epoxy, it comes in two parts that, when combined, will interact with one another to create a permanent molecular bond with the surface of your choice, whether it be wood, plastic, metal, cement, and even ceramic!
Loctite is commonly used on metal surfaces, but it makes for a pretty good plastic epoxy too.
Most Affordable: J-B WELD Original Steel Reinforced Epoxy
As one of the most recognizable epoxies on the list, we find that the J-B Weld Original epoxy has earned its reputation as a household brand by being reliable, affordable, versatile, and long-lasting. J -B Weld comes in first place for strength on this list, with a psi of 5020. This epoxy is usable on metal, plastic, ceramic, wood, and even glass!
You also get pretty good value for what you pay for, with two 5-ounce tubes housing the epoxy and the hardener, it does pay for itself in volume compared to most other brands. Like the Loctite we looked at previously, the J-B Weld is malleable and can even be drilled and sanded down once cured and hardened. Unlike our previous two, it is by no means a fast-curing/hardening epoxy, taking roughly six hours to dry and a further fourteen hours to cure.
J-B Weld has proven itself as a brand over many years due to its being waterproof, acid-resistant, and even alcohol-resistant when fully hardened. So as a do-it-yourself, easy-to-use, point-and-squeeze epoxy, it nearly made the top of our list. However, its long cure and hardening time left a bit to be desired, especially when busy with multiple projects. However, this does not take away from the fact that it is an incredible plastic epoxy.
There is a reason as to why this is the go-to brand for many craftsmen, mechanics, carpenters, and modeling enthusiasts!
What to Look for When Choosing an Epoxy for Plastic
There are a few things you should keep in mind when considering an epoxy for plastic. It is easy to simply walk into your local hardware or hit the “add to cart” option on Amazon for the first product with a description reading “strongest plastic epoxy”, but there are some things you should keep in mind when making your selection.
The pot life, also referred to as the working life, of an epoxy refers to the amount of time it takes for the epoxy to cure and harden once it has been mixed and applied. Depending on what you require, epoxies can either have a short, medium, or long pot life. A short pot life means that the product will dry to the touch within just a few minutes and fully cure in a few hours, which is ideal for quick-fix scenarios.
Epoxies with a medium pot life can take a bit longer to cure, taking anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to dry and likely over 10 hours to fully harden and cure. This means that the bond can be still be manipulated quite a bit before it is set in stone. Epoxies with a longer working life can take an hour or more to cure, meaning that if you want to get something to fit perfectly but need it to be at least partially stuck, this is the kind of epoxy you will be needing.
Before grabbing the strongest plastic epoxy you can get your hands on, always consider the application. What is your end game? Does your workpiece need to be upright or laying down? Will this workpiece be exposed to the elements? If so, will it be mild weather or will it be extreme heat or cold? Will your workpiece be submerged in water? What forces such as torsion, tension, or torque will your workpiece be exposed to?
Other factors such as positioning, how you will secure the workpiece while the epoxy cures and hardens, and even where you will work can mean the difference between good adhesion and bad adhesion. Always consider all of the factors and what you have available so as to compensate should anything go wrong.
Remember, it is difficult to dissolve bonds once they have hardened, so make sure that you plan well ahead.
Tips for Working Safely with Epoxy
By now, you probably know the basics for working with epoxy, but just in case anything got lost in translation, here are a few safety tips to remember when working with epoxy in the future:
- Always work in a well-ventilated area.
- Remember to read the packaging or leaflet before applying the epoxy.
- Know how to remove the epoxy before you start working with it.
- Whether you have a mixing syringe or not, always wear gloves when working with epoxy.
- Never let epoxy come in contact with your skin or eyes.
- Do not actively inhale the fumes produced by the epoxy, no matter how good they smell.
- Do not expose the epoxy or hardener to an open flame – the fumes can be toxic.
How to Remove Plastic Epoxy
Removing epoxy can be tricky, even if it isn’t the strongest one out there. In particular, reactive epoxies and waterproof epoxies can be especially difficult to remove, for obvious reasons. You should always read either the box or instructional leaflet sold with your epoxy before applying it just in case you hit a snag and need to un-join your workpiece quickly.
There is no universal solution for removing epoxy from plastic, however, the most common chemicals used to dissolve these bonds are acetone and a special kind of alcohol called isopropanol, which should break down the chemical bond between the workpiece and the now-cured epoxy resin. This is useful to keep in mind should you have already tossed your packaging and/or leaflet away. Remember, if they advertise it as the best plastic epoxy, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be hard to get rid of, so be prepared to put in some elbow grease.
Now that you are armed with all of the facts, it is time for you to click on one of the links above and get some epoxy for plastic. Remember to think ahead, always be safe, plan your project, know your application, and don’t be fooled into buying something just because it claims to be the best plastic epoxy. Choose the right epoxy for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Strong Is Plastic Epoxy?
Plastic epoxy is really strong, dries really quickly, and can be used in a pinch. Fast-working plastic epoxies can dry in under an hour, but they should be left for a few hours to ensure that the hardening process is uninterrupted. The most premium brands offer waterproof epoxy for plastic, which is also capable of withstanding high temperatures.
Does Hot Glue Work on Plastic?
Yes, it does. Hot glue might not work on all plastics, but it does a serviceable job with polyethylene and related plastics. It is important to be careful when working with hot glue, and remember that you only have a few seconds after dispensing before it dries.
Does J-B Weld Work on Plastic?
J-B Weld works on virtually anything you can think of. As one of the most recognizable and reputable epoxy brands on the market, they sell everything from clear epoxy for workpieces, waterproof epoxy for plastic, and even strong, heat-resistant epoxies for more robust applications.