Made of elastic polymers such a latex, rubber cement is an adhesive known for a its fluid texture and flexible bond. After the adhesive is applied to a surface and begins to dry, the product's volatile solvents dissipate, allowing the rubbery glue to harden to a spongy solid and bond. Because rubber cement is acid-free and dries without wrinkling, it's ideal for use on photos and scrapbooks. The product is easy to apply with its brush-style applicator, and wipes off of surfaces easily before it dries.
Applying Rubber Cement
To apply rubber cement to an item that you'd like to adhere, dip the brush applicator into the adhesive to get a small amount of the product on the tip. Brush the glue onto the item, such as the back of a photo, in a thin, even layer.
Press the item down onto the object you want it to adhere to, such as a paper scrapbook page. The rubber cement will dry without wrinkling. One of the advantages of using rubber cement is that you can peel the glued item up and reposition it if you need to make a change. Unlike white craft and other types of adhesives, rubber cement won't damage the glued items when they're pulled apart with reasonable care.
Although you can use rubber cement on a variety of materials, including wood, glass and plastic, it's best for paper-collage type applications.
Rubber Cement Limitations
Over time, rubber cement may lose its adhesive properties and dry out, leaving behind a hard, yellow residue. Since the brittle residue is difficult to remove and may stain the object on which the glue was applied, its best not to use the product on important or fragile photographs and artwork.
Removing Rubber Cement
If you accidentally get some rubber cement on an object, such as a tabletop, rug or tile floor, you can clean it up with either mineral spirits or rubber cement thinner. Always test an inconspicuous area of the material for damage prior to using either product.
Apply a small amount of the mineral spirits or thinner to a clean cloth and place it onto the rubber cement. allowing it to sit for several hours. Once the glue is softened, you can wipe it up with a dry cloth.
Precautions when Using Rubber Cement
Because rubber cement contains several hazardous, toxic ingredients, including acetone, heptane and trichloroethane, you must use it in a well-ventilated area, such as an open garage. If you're working indoors, open a window to allow fresh air to circulate. Also, avoid using rubber cement around high heat or open flames, as some of its ingredients are highly flammable.
Josh Arnold has been a residential and commercial carpenter for 15 years and likes to share his knowledge and experience through writing. He is a certified journeyman carpenter and took college-accredited courses through the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters training center. As a Los Angeles-based union carpenter, Arnold builds everything from highrises to bridges, parking structures and homes.