Scrapbooking: Adhesives 101

As a paper crafter with almost twenty years experience, I’m pretty certain if there is a scrapbooking adhesive out there I have owned it or used it in some capacity. I have a variety of different paper crafting adhesives in my craft room. I’m going to pull them out and discuss the types, the pro’s and con’s of each, and the most common uses for them.

Quick disclaimer on photo preservation: This article covers a variety of adhesives for scrapbooking and general paper crafting. I would like to mention that most of what is available in the paper crafting section of craft stores is archival, however not all adhesives are photo safe. If you are preserving photos I do not recommend using the following: Rubber Cement, Glue, Glue Sticks, and Foam tape. While most of these are popular for being inexpensive, some contain acids that will damage and degrade photos over time, and others will damage photos by warping or seeping through the paper.

Tape Runners: One of the most common forms of adhesive, they consist of a running adhesive contained and distributed through a mechanical device. Some tape runners are refillable, and some are disposable. The adhesives deposited vary. Some have little dots of adhesive, some a continuous line, and others deposit little strips or squares. Most function well at adhering paper and photos. Not all can hold together dimensional paper projects or heavy weight card stock.


My tape runner of choice is the 3M Advanced Tape Glider (ATG). I haven’t found a paper project yet that this baby can’t handle. Developed for professional framers, I like the archival quality of the tape, the strength of the adhesive, and the price of refills. For the same price of an average tape runner (13 yards), each ATG refill (36 yards) gives me almost triple the quantity. I generally buy my refills in bulk from They sell the pink ATG with two refills for $24.95, and refill packs of the 908 Gold ATG refill for $4.70/ea. If you are armed with a coupon at Michaels, JoAnn’s, or Hobby Lobby you can usually purchase one of these or its refill for a comparable or better price.

Photo Tabs: Little squares of double sided tape that is sold in a flat package with sheets, on a roll in a box, or in a tape runner. These are designed specifically to affix photos to paper, and I suggest only using these for that purpose. They can be used for other paper projects, however using them to hold layers of heavy weight paper or certain specialty papers will not work or may only hold temporarily. I also do not recommend using these to secure together corners or edges of dimensional paper projects.

Photo Corners: Small triangular pockets that fit to the edge of a photo and secure to paper. These have been around for a long time and the newer ones are nice because adhesive is not applied directly to a photograph. They can be found in the more traditional paper form and come in black, white, and tan. They are also sold in a clear plastic form, and can be found in various sizes. I like the traditional ones because they act as an embellishment, and I’ve even used them on cards. The plastic photo corners I use with older photographs and also on pages holding large professional photographs. They are a great way of mounting a photo you might choose to remove from a layout at a later date.

Glue Dot’s: Just as their name says, these are little dots of glue and are a very versatile adhesive for paper crafting. They are sold in a flat package with sheets, on a roll in a box or table stand container, or in a tape runner. They come in various sizes in both width and height. Some brands even have various strength dots. I consider these the best adhesive for dimensional paper projects, working with specialty paper, and affixing dimensional embellishments. I usually carry at least two sizes of glue dots in my crop bag. I love glue dots because I can buy them in flat packs that fit nicely in my crop bag.

Glue: There are several paper crafting glues on the market, and most come in bottles. Glue is typically used for dimensional paper projects, adhering chipboard, or as a topcoat laminate. While I have known a few scrapbookers who only use archival safe glue for constructing the paper portion of their layouts. If you are a beginning scrapbooker I do not recommend using glue on your layouts. It’s messy, you usually need some form of brush to apply it evenly, and once something is glued together, it is nearly impossible to take it apart. My glue of choice is Club Scrap’s Bookbinding glue. I also really like Close to My Heart’s Liquid Glass.

Glue Sticks: Glue in a semi solid state and usually sold in round application tube. While inexpensive, glue sticks are my least favorite form of adhesive. It’s easy to over apply this adhesive, which causes lumps, paper warping, and seepage. This is not a good adhesive for dimensional projects, photo mounting, or layering of heavy weight paper. Once dry this adhesive has also been known to dry, crack and flake off. If I were to use a glue stick, it would only be in the construction of a small paper project like a card.

Glue Pens: A pen or marker containing liquid glue. These are better than glue sticks because they allow for more control over the amount of glue applied. These are great for adhering intricate and fine detail die cuts. The larger marker sized glue pens can be good on layered paper projects. These are not recommended for adhering photos or the construction of dimensional paper projects. I keep a Close to My Heart Bonding Memories Glue Pen in my crop bag for adhering intricate die cuts.

Foam Mounting Tape: A double-sided adhesive that is 1/8 inch thick and sold in small dots, small squares, or on a continuous roll. These are a nice way to add dimension to a project and are most commonly used to “pop-up” an embellishment. I do not recommend using these to directly adhere a photo to paper because not all foam tapes are made with photo safe adhesive. I usually carry a roll of 3L’s Foam Mounting Tape in my crop bag. It allows me to customize my tape width and the adhesive they use is high quality.

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope this article was helpful. If you’re a long time paper crafter what’s you adhesive of choice and why?