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Sculptors and installation artists often use lightweight foam as the core for their structures, but not all adhesives perform well with it. Some chemically react with foam, eating it away or causing it to melt. Fortunately, excellent adhesives have been formulated specifically to work with foam. Each has its own properties and best uses. Some are quick and easy and are great for smaller or pliable foams. Others dry with ultra-strong, heat-resistant bonds and perform best with rigid foams; these require ventilation and careful application. Peruse our reviews of the best choices in this category to find the product that suits you best.
1. Liquid Nails Latex Adhesive
Liquid Nails is an extremely strong construction adhesive for use with foams and plastics. To apply, use a caulk gun to precisely distribute it on your artwork. It dries within a day and cures within seven days to form a bond that’s resistant to water and high temperatures. It is excellent for use with art made with rigid foam boards, polystyrenes, plastics, and acrylics. Liquid Nails is low odor and safe, with Greenguard Gold Standard certification as a low-emitting material. It cleans up quickly with water when wet. It is not recommended for art installed outdoors.
2. 3M Foam Fast Spray Adhesive
Are you an artist who stretches fabric over pliable foam forms? Or do you have damage to repair in your foam structure? Foam Fast 74 is an ideal adhesive for these tasks. Spray it onto the surface of your foam and fabric to quickly adhere and create high-strength bonds. Drying time is fast but allows quick repositioning within 15 seconds to 30 minutes, depending on your materials. The aerosol’s lace-spray pattern is ideal for foams and optimal for creating industrial bonds. The non-yellowing spray doesn’t soak into materials and won’t stain or deteriorate over time. The adhesive also works well with foam core, paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and wood. Use outdoors or with a ventilation hood or box, and wear a mask and goggles.
3. Wilsonart Water-Based Adhesive
Art educators rely on safe materials when they teach. Wilsonart’s contact adhesive is low odor, nontoxic, and nonflammable, and it is extremely low in volatile organic compounds and volatile hazardous air pollutants. This makes it ideal for classrooms. The adhesive is extremely strong and performs well with rigid foams, veneers, decorative laminates, cork, leather, and particleboard. It applies white and dries clear in approximately two hours. Apply using a brush, roller, or sprayer for excellent artistic results. This adhesive is water-based, so cleanup is a breeze.
4. Loctite Foamboard Adhesive
This strong, precision foam adhesive, originally developed for construction uses, works great with large-scale sculpture incorporating foam, wood, metal, brick, drywall, and concrete. Use a standard caulk gun to distribute the adhesive to the items you are adhering. The adhesive hardens in one hour (you can reposition materials until then) and fully cures in seven days. When dry, the adhesive is harder than foam board and light blue in color. It is excellent to use with rigid materials such as foam board, Styrofoam, polystyrene, and foam sheets. It doesn’t work as well with soft, pliable foams. Cleanup is fast and easy.
5. 3M Fastbond Contact Adhesive
This adhesive means business. It creates an extremely high-strength bond with most foams, plastics, laminates, woods, veneers, and canvas. The bond is resistant to high temperatures and ideal for indoor and outdoor artwork. It can be applied by brush, roller, or spray but must be carefully applied in an even coat. Most materials require only one coat; if your foam or surface is porous, a second one may be needed. Low odor, nontoxic, and nonflammable in its wet state, the adhesive is ideal for situations where safety is key. It bonds in approximately four hours. Cleanup is easier than with most contact adhesives.