Having been in the wholesale leather industry for over five decades, supplying leather to trades, industries and artisans of all scales, we feel we have relevant experience and expertise in most things concerning leather. This includes the best glue for leather.
As a leading leather supplier, we would only associate our name with the best leather products on the market. This way, the customer not only receives the best quality leather but the best leather tools, creams and dyes to go with it.
Historically, the bonding together of materials to create tools, weapons or decorations were inspired by adhesive properties found in nature. Natural sealants were created from insects, arachnids and bored before tree tar and other plant resins were utilised.
The last few centuries has seen the induction of synthetic adhesives. The likes of super glue is a solvent which has become commonplace for a quick fix. But for a glue designed to satisfy bonding demands on delicate materials such as leather, this sort of glue isn’t always appropriate.
What Makes a Good Leather Glue?
Most leather goods are constantly being manipulated. As the leather bends and flexes, the leather glue should remain flexible and durable enough to maintain a solid bond. Additionally, a leather glue should be fast-tacking and quick-drying. It should dry clear and be composed of elements that do not soak or stain the leather.
These are perhaps some of the reasons as to why we are seeing a transition away from solvent based adhesives and a rise in popularity of water-based leather glues. Other reasons include the enhanced efficiency, safety and environmental considerations of water-based adhesives.
Advantages of Water-Based Leather Glue
For us, it's important that leather glue is of a high quality and full of performance. Yet, it's more important that a product is conscious of the welfare of its users and environment.
That being said, we’ve broken down the benefits of water-based leather glues and made direct comparisons to solvent based alternatives, to help highlight our argument.
Safety First - A lack of chemical components in water-based glue, compared to solvents, minimises the risk of fire and explosions.Risk assessment at home, in a factory or workshop should always be ongoing. Large-scale leather projects sometimes require large quantities of leather glue and you should always be wary of what and where you’re stockpiling.
Health Awareness - Whilst both still omit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the VOC emissions of water-based glue is dramatically reduced in comparison to the high levels found in solvent based adhesives. If you’re working indoors, this could become problematic, over time.
Environmental Considerations - Fundamentally, solvent based glues are more impactful on our environment. Waste and disposal into the ground or our waterways causes pollution. But with water-based adhesives, there’s a reduction in this.
- Quality Assurance - Due to the fact that water-based adhesives soften the leather on application, (avoiding the use of a softener), the leather itself is more malleable after the glue is applied. Solvent based glues often harden the leather, impacting its functionality or purpose.
Colourisation also plays a part. Ideally, you’d want any leather adhesive to be resistant to colour change. Water-based glues have a higher yellowing resistance, whereas solvent based glues yellow and turn brown after a short time period.
Based on the above alone, it’s clear to see why we may champion water-based adhesives. But the question still remains - ‘what is the best glue for leather?’
Well, what if we told you there’s a water-based leather glue which does all of what we’ve mentioned so far and more?
Intercom water based adhesives technologies are at the forefront for adhesives and glueing devices for leather goods.
For over 25 years, drawing on experience in the fields of leather and shoe production, they have been providing their customers with spraying and bonding methods and systems which substitute the need for more conventional solvent and brush systems.
Let’s take a closer look at how their 100% non-solvent, water-based leather glues are revolutionising the industry.
Increased Efficiency - As in any industry, if there’s a way of achieving better efficiency, it’s advantageous. Through Intercom’s innovation significant amounts of time can be saved via its spraying system.
It’s fast and clean and is always ready for use. This denotes the need for ongoing maintenance of cleaning brushes and the frequent filling of pots where solvent based glues are concerned.
Increased Quality -The final aesthetic of a leather product is key for any consumer. Negating potential issues in the bonding and sealing process will reflect in the overall quality.
When the adhesive is sprayed it evenly covers the surface of the leather, thus avoiding the formation of a thick layer. They are also sprayed in small quantities for extremely precise bondings.
On the other hand, solvent brushing methods do not create a uniform distribution, therefore it is liable to lumps and inconsistencies in thickness. It’s also not as accurate. For thin and delicate leathers, the slightest difference in formation can cause issues when working with and sewing the leather, compromising the final finish.
Reduced Waste - Intercom water-based adhesives do not dry out or evaporate. Ultimately, this avoids product waste. The solvent adhesives tend to dry out because they evaporate and therefore there is always considerable product waste. This is likely because solvent glue has a 15% solid content only, whereas water-based glue has 50%, further emphasising quality in its bonding performance.
Sensible Packaging - Another reason why Intercom is ahead of the pack is its packaging. Unlike the metal containers most adhesives come in, Intercom’s ‘bag in a box’ significantly reduces both volume and weight, reducing the cost of disposal. Unlike metals which are more expensive.
The Right Leather Glue for You
In response to the question in the title of this article, the best glue for leather has to be one free of solvents. One that recognises the requirements it takes to enhance the performance and appearance of the leather rather than hinder it. A leather glue that is aware of the environment and its role within it, striving for sustainable solutions. Finally, you should want a leather glue that takes the welfare of its customers into account.
You can view the full range of Intercom leather glues and machines here.