Bonding and Gluing Acrylic
Surface preparation is critical to success. The cleaner the surface, the stronger the bond created between acrylic and substrate. If you’re not immediately applying the glue, even an overnight layer of dust should be removed before proceeding.
Preparing Different Substrates
- Wood, MDF, Particleboard, Plywood, Gypsum Board, and Plaster: A strip and clean job is necessary before any other work can be done. Surface cleaning eliminates any dirt, dust, and grime, but prior paint and adhesive applications must also be removed.
- Concrete, Stone, and Masonry: A wire brush is usually the best option for cleaning these surfaces. But if your masonry has been treated with water repellent, protective coatings, or a form release agent, these too must be removed. Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is what we recommend. Just be sure to wear protective gear to protect your skin and eyes.
- Aluminum: Denatured alcohol, or comparable solvent, should be used to remove oil and other grime that threaten to disrupt a strong adhesive result. You can use as much of the solvent as it takes to completely eliminate these surface contaminants, but afterward, wipe dry with a clean cotton cloth. Even with plenty of ventilation and following all the safety precautions, it’s important not to let solvents evaporate into the air.
Choosing the Right Adhesive
We always recommend using a low VOC adhesive. Along with the environmental impact, high VOC adhesives are not necessary to achieve great results. For all the substrates listed above, you can choose between “Axiom High Tack Adhesive“ or “DAP Phenoseal Vinyl Adhesive Caulk“. For acrylic on acrylic applications, you can use “Scigrip Acrylic Cement“.
These adhesives will allow for thermal expansion and contraction, but for the best results, it’s a good idea to minimize extreme changes. The substrate, acrylic, and adhesive should all be allowed to grow accustomed to normal site conditions for 48 hours. Offsite or during construction, this usually means conditions between 70°-75° F and a relative humidity no greater than 45%.
Application and Bonding
Before starting, be sure to review the manufacturer’s instructions for the chosen adhesive. Remove the protective layer from the solid acrylic. Start two inches from one of the corner edges and apply a dab of adhesive about an inch in diameter (the size of a quarter). Next, make a row of these adhesive dots about 5 inches apart, planning ahead to make a final dot that’s a reasonable distance from the far edge. From there, make a grid over the entire surface. Carefully position the panel against the surface. Once you have it in the right spot, use a roller to apply pressure consistently and to eliminate any weak spots in the bond.