What Adhesive Should You Use for Scrapbooking?

6 Rules to Get Started With the Right Adhesives to Avoid Glue Mistakes

Woman assembling scrapbook
Seth Joel / Getty Images

Many people who try scrapbooking for the first time make a mistake when it comes to choosing an adhesive. While most scrapbookers probably reach for glue when doing their layouts, it's not always the best choice. Choosing the wrong adhesive can lead to problems like items falling off the page or yellowing over time. Here is a simple list of do's and don'ts when it comes to picking which adhesive is right for you.

Adhesive Tricks of the Trade

1. Don't even think about any glue that you bought for your child's school box.

Adhesives need to be specifically labeled as safe for scrapbooking (acid-free) in order to be appropriate for use on your layouts. Products that have a high acid content can cause your photos and pages to yellow as they age, something you want to avoid. You will want to purchase adhesives that you use only for scrapbooking.

2. Don't use a glue stick.

Glue sticks are inexpensive and some are even acid-free. However, they do not make the best adhesive for scrapbooking. As the glue dries it tends to become brittle and some items even fall off of your pages. Spend the extra money and get good quality adhesives for use with your photos.

3. Do use a photo tab dispenser.

Photo tabs are small squares of double-sided tape that work especially well with photos. You only need a few per photo (one in each corner is sufficient).

By adhering your photos with limited amounts of good adhesive, you will make it easier to remove them later if needed. Photo tab dispensers allow you to apply the adhesive squares with a rolling tool which makes using them quick and easy. Herma has a refillable photo tab dispenser, while 3L offers an inexpensive tab dispensing box that you simply throw away when it is empty.

4. Do try out a few different tape runners.

Tape runners are the most time efficient scrapbook adhesive. Many different company manufacture runners and each has its own pros and cons. Some are refillable, and some are disposable. Some dispense a transparent adhesive strip, some little light blue dots, and some tiny white strips of double stick tape. You can also choose between repositionable and permanent adhesives. Some popular choices are EZ Runner by 3L, Herma Dotto Removable Dispenser, Xyron's Solutions, and Tombow Mono-Adhesive.

5. Don't use rubber cement.

While rubber cement does create a strong, flexible bond, most have a high acid content. Some rubber cement state that they are now acid-free, but this is still a messy, time-consuming way to assemble your scrapbook.

6. Don't use permanent adhesive on photos that you may need to remove in the future.

If there is any chance that you may need to remove photos from your album in the future for copying or reprinting, you will want to use an adhesive that allows you to pop the photos off of the page. Old fashioned photo corners were designed for this purpose and are great for heritage albums. Photo corners are time-consuming to use in comparison with tab dispensers and tape runners.

In general, using the least amount of adhesive necessary to hold items on your page is the best rule of thumb. Small amounts of tape, or just a few photo tabs, will allow you to remove items at a later date if needed.