Which Adhesive Should I Use For My Hook And Loop?
We offer two types of adhesive backing for all of our peel and stick hook and loop products. There's a rubber based adhesive and an acrylic based adhesive. These are pressure sensitive adhesives, or PSAs, meaning that you simply have to apply pressure to the adhesive to stick it to the substrate (the material the adhesive is being stuck to). Each adhesive has it's own pros and cons but much of the adhesive's efficacy comes from ensuring a proper bond to the substrate. So we'll cover some various questions we often have to run through when recommending adhesives to our customers.
What Are You Sticking It To?
Both the acrylic and rubber adhesives bond well to a variety of substrates including metal, glass, stainless steel, and aluminum. So if you're planning to stick the adhesive to one of these substrates, either adhesive should be good. You can jump to the next section.
Both adhesives bond well to most plastics as well, but we've separated this out here because the rubber is better suited for Low Surface Energy (LSE) plastics because the rubber adhesive is a high tack adhesive, meaning it's stickier. The acrylic adhesive is a medium tack adhesive. So in instances where you are unsure of the type of plastic you'll be sticking the adhesive to, a rubber adhesive should bond to the substrate best.
The rubber adhesive also sticks better to rough surfaces like wood, vinyl, and canvas. There are a lot of varieties of each of these substrates, so the rubber adhesive may bond better to some than others. In most cases though, the rubber adhesive will bond better to these substrates than the acrylic adhesive.
These PSAs are not designed to stick well to fabrics and clothing. We have some customers who use them in this way, but it is to make stitching them in place an easier task, not to form a permanent or semi-permanent bond to the fabric. For fabrics, it's best to find a product with an adhesive specifically for that purpose or to attach the hook and loop by some other means like sewing or applying a contact cement or some other adhesive manually.
Indoors Or Outdoors?
Beyond the substrates and tackiness of these adhesives, there are other factors to consider. The biggest one, after whether or not the adhesive will stick to the surface in the first place, is operating temperature range. The operating temperature range for each adhesive can vary based on manufacturer, so we'll provide the operating temperature range for our DuraGrip Brand for this example. The rubber adhesive has an operating temperature range of -40F to 190F. Other rubber adhesives may only be good up to 120F, which is not ideal for certain climates or applications. The acrylic adhesive has an operating temperature range of -40F to 240F.
What this means is that if you are in a very hot and arid climate, the acrylic adhesive will give you the better performance of the two if you foresee temperatures approaching 200F. One good example of such an application is in automotive industries where the interior of cars can get well into the high 100s.
Moisture Or Chemical Resistance
The acrylic adhesive has the added benefit of holding up better to moisture and chemicals as opposed to the rubber adhesive. So if the hook and loop you plan to use is going to be in a humid environment or may get caught in the rain occasionally or may end up in a shop or plant where chemical exposure may occur, the acrylic adhesive would hold up better in those conditions.
This is why we generally refer to the rubber as an indoor adhesive and acrylic as an outdoor adhesive. Rubber is ideal for climate controlled environments where extreme temperatures, moisture and chemical exposure are unlikely to play a factor in its performance. Acrylic adhesives are better suited for extreme temperatures and the occasional rainy day.
TL;DR (Short And Sweet) Version
So when considering which adhesive to use, first consider what substrate the adhesive is going to be applied to. If the adhesive doesn't bond well to the substrate, it won't matter if it gets rained on or what the temperature is. It won't stick.
Next, consider what secondary factors may be at play. Is it extremely hot or cold where you live? Is it very humid?
Lastly, just because a PSA doesn't sound like a good solution doesn't mean you can't use hook and loop! You can fasten the hook and loop a variety of other ways like with a contact cement or aerosol adhesive, or with staples, rivets, screws or nails.
One final note: We wholeheartedly encourage providing samples for your testing whenever you may be unsure of which adhesive to go with! All you have to do is call us at (800) 940-6934 or email us at [email protected] to request a free sample.