Foam rubber has come a long way in its uses. It was originally created for a range of professional applications, from cushioning moving parts to adding insulation to buildings and machines. Now, thin sheets of colorful foam rubber or wide, thick mats are manipulated through heat and glue to create everything from impressive professional costumes to holiday-themed crafts for kids to cushions for outdoor furniture. Using the right types of glue will ensure your masterpiece stays in its original form without collapsing under its weight or popping apart as the glue dries.
Why Glue Matters for Foam
Foam is versatile. It can be heated and bent to create curved armor that is light enough for cosplay or cut and twisted to make multilayered and colorful kids' crafts during the holidays or for special events.
Foam rubber is so flexible because of its porous quality. This porous part of the foam makes it difficult to glue.
The right foam adhesive spray or type of glue will solve all your foam rubber connection problems. For instance, natural rubber can handle foam spray adhesives, while synthetic rubber will need a synthetic glue.
How Foam and Glue React
Depending on the material, the glue may not be strong enough. Some foam glue can cause an adverse reaction to the foam that causes it to physically change, curl up or look burned or bent. Closed-cell foam and open-cell foam react inversely to different types of glue.
The right types of adhesive will allow you to manipulate the foam and keep it firmly in place.
Glue for Cushions and Large Foam Projects
Easy to use and affordable, foam adhesive spray has evolved to successfully adhere thick sheets of cushioned foam for seating or insulation purposes or to create layers that are tightly bonded. The beauty of using a spray adhesive is that it can be applied easily to curved or oddly shaped pieces of foam.
This type of glue is also good for items that will have heavy traffic or use, such as seating. Spray adhesive glues are sold at most big-box craft stores and mom-and-pop hobby shops.
A commercial product such as 3M Fastbond has a long-lasting hold and won't discolor the foam sheets, thick pads or sculptures. Spray adhesive glue comes in many formulations. It also won't make the item brittle over time as it ages.
Silicone Glue for Big Projects
Synthetic foam and silicone are good partners. The silicone glue is an adaptable bonding and sealing adhesive that allows you to manipulate foam rubber as the glue dries. Silicone glue works best on silicone rubber. It is fairly easy to obtain at hardware or big-box home improvement stores.
For making costumes or building other large items that need to be mobile, silicone glue is durable and bonds permanently with the right type of foam rubber.
Glue for Gifts and Small Crafts
Craft foam for home projects is more often than not closed-cell foam. It works well with tacky glues that are sold from craft stores or in hardware stores.
Use tacky glue sparingly. It can take time to dry. Apply it in thin layers with an adequate drying time if attaching multiple structures together that need to be glued separately.
Unlike spray adhesive, this type of glue requires a lengthy drying time to cure and bond to the plastic. Some spray adhesives are ideal for thin sheets of foam that need to be layered or given a stiff feel or look. If you are simply coating craft foam to create an exterior sheen, spray adhesive may be a better bet than thicker tacky glue.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.