Contact Adhesive Information

Updated April 17, 2017

Contact adhesive, also referred to as contact cement, is a solvent-based adhesive that works by autohesion, or self-bonding. To use this bonding agent, the surfaces to be attached are coated with the adhesive, left to dry until tacky and then stuck together.

How It Works

Contact adhesive is made by suspending an adhesive in a chemical solvent. When it is applied to a surface, the solvent evaporates, leaving just the glue behind. Always apply contact adhesive in a well-ventilated area because the fumes can be toxic.


Contact adhesives are used for their fast application and setting times as well as their strong bonding properties. In the home, contact adhesives are commonly used to install decorative laminates in kitchens and bathrooms. They are also used in the manufacturing of automotive parts, furniture and leather goods.


Coat both surfaces to be attached using a roller, brush or spray mechanism. If the surfaces are porous, apply a second coat to ensure even coverage.

Drying Time

The full bonding potential is not reached until the adhesive has dried fully. While air exposure is sufficient for drying, using a fan or heat helps to speed the process.


Most problems with contact adhesive are caused by inadequate drying time, not applying enough adhesive or waiting too long before assembly. When applied correctly, the bond is instant and permanent, so use care during initial placement.

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About the Author

Gretchen Freeman, a Seattle-based freelance writer since 2009, is a frequent contributor to eHow and Answerbag. Her expertise covers a wide range of topics from fashion to nutrition to technology. She holds an Associate of Applied Arts in fashion marketing from The Art Institute of Seattle.