Tufting guns can accept a wide variety of yarns, but when it comes to glue for rug tufting, most household glues simply won’t get the job done.
To help your rugs last the test of time, we’ve picked out five of the best glues for rugs, with options for floor rugs, wall hangings, simple projects, and sensitive noses.
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What to know about rug glue
Let’s face it: gluing and finishing your rugs is by far the least sexy part of making a rug. Compared to the joy of using a tufting gun or even shaping your rug, slapping adhesive on the back can feel like a chore.
So I’ll keep this brief. There are categories of glue to consider for rug tufting: latex-based and water-based.
Latex-based glues are the strongest and best rug glue you can buy. They remain flexible, even when dry, which is perfect for floor rugs. A good latex glue for tufting will never crumble or deteriorate.
That said, they do take a long time to dry, and the odor can be a problem for poorly ventilated spaces.
Water-based glues are similar to everyday craft glue, and will work for smaller projects and wall hangings. They are not durable enough for floor rugs, but they’re generally odor-free and non-toxic. They also dry fairly quickly.
It’s also worth mentioning that you’ll need a few other types of glue to finish your rug. You’ll want a glue gun to stick the edges of your tufting cloth down, and some simple spray adhesive for your backing cloth.
If you’re just getting started tufting, check out our guide to all the essential tufting tools and supplies you’ll need along the way!
The best glues for rug tufting
With that out of the way, let’s have a look at the best rug glues for your tufted works of art!
Best overall: Roberts 3095
Effective, affordable, and easy to find, Roberts 3095 is the best rug tufting glue for most projects. It’s great for indoor floor rugs and wall hangings alike.
It’s a latex-based carpet glue, but it’s actually intended to glue commercial carpets to flooring. Still, I’ve found it works great for tufted rugs, and it’s common enough to find in big box stores or online.
It’s thick and easy to spread onto the back of your rugs, and has a very long working time. It isn’t the fastest-drying glue for rugs, though. Expect it to still be a bit tacky after a full day of drying.
That can be an advantage though since it makes it easy to hold your edges while you hit them with a glue gun!
You can sometimes buy this in one-quart tubs, but I’d recommend getting the one-gallon tub linked below. It works out much cheaper, and you’ll be surprised how much rug glue you’ll go through in your first few projects!
Best premium: Roberts 6700
Roberts has another specialty glue for tufting that’s a bit stronger than the option above. It’s rated for indoor and outdoor use, although tufted rugs still shouldn’t be left exposed to the elements.
Compared to Roberts 3095, this rug glue has a slightly longer working time and a bit less odor. You’ll still want to ventilate, but anyone with a sensitive nose might want to pick this one.
Again, rugs glued with this product won’t be completely dry for at least 48 hours (and probably longer), although they’ll be workable and ready to finish after 24 hours.
Again I’d recommend sticking to one-gallon tubs, although they do run just a bit more expensive than the option above. But if you want to sell your tufting rugs, it’s worth the expense.
Another premium choice is Bond AAT1132, but that’s very difficult to get your hands on (not to mention pricey). Stick with Roberts and save yourself the hassle.
Fastest drying latex: Tufting Nation TN-100
The Canada-based small company Tufting Nation makes another specialized latex glue for tufting rugs, called TN-100.
The main thing to note is that it’s a bit more liquid than the options above. This means you can apply it with a roller brush (great for huge rugs) and it dries just a bit quicker than other latex glues.
Get inspired: Best rug tufting artists to follow on TikTok
TN-100 also contains no VOCs, which are the toxic chemicals found in the two options above. That makes it much safer to use, plus more environmentally friendly.
Tufting Nation also makes a thicker glue, called TN-200, but I haven’t personally tried it and it doesn’t seem to have many advantages over TN-100 or the Roberts glues above.
Quite a bit more expensive than other latex glues, I wouldn’t recommend this one for beginners, but it’s great for pro-level rugs. If you’re going to be gluing a lot of rugs, you definitely want something non-toxic (and you should still wear a mask).
Best for wall rugs: Elmer’s Glue-All
It might sound silly to recommend the standard PVA glue you’ve been using since grade school for rugs, but what can I say, it works!
Elmer’s Glue-All is slightly thicker than normal “school glue” but it’s still much thinner than the latex options above. Similar to most book-binding glues, I’d recommend applying it with a brush instead of a pallet for the best results.
As a PVA glue, it will dry much faster than any of the other rug glues above. We’re still talking 8-10 hours depending on your yarn, but it won’t have the same tackiness as the latex glues. It also has virtually no odor.
That said, it’s also far more rigid when dry. For that reason, it’s great for wall rugs (or smaller punch needle works like coasters), but not so great for floor rugs. If you want to sell and ship your rugs, they will also be a bit more difficult to roll and pack.
Still, this is an incredibly cheap option for beginners. Just don’t expect the same high-quality finish as more specialized glues for tufting rugs. It’s sold in smaller containers, but I’d recommend getting the one-gallon jug below.
Best non-toxic: Tuft the World Carpet Backing Adhesive
Our last pick for the best glues for rug tufting is another specialized pick from the great folks at Tuft the World.
Like the Elmer’s glue above, it’s a water-based craft glue. However, it’s much thicker. The company recommends thinning it with water a bit to improve workability.
As a completely non-toxic rug glue, this produces very little odor. It’s also relatively fast-drying, although you may need to apply two coats for the best results.
I haven’t had the chance to test this one yet (it’s on the way to me as I write this), but if Tuft the World made it, it’s probably a great glue for tufting. It also comes in a wine box-looking container, which looks a lot nicer than a tub.
Considering this is essentially just a concentrated PVA craft glue, it is a bit expensive. If you want to try it, use the discount code TINY to save 15% at checkout.
What glue is best for tufting floor rugs?
For floor rugs, latex glues like Roberts 3095 are best due to their flexibility and durability.
What glue is the best glue for wall rugs?
For wall rugs, more rigid glues like PVA glue work well. Depending on the yarn used and thickness of the glue, you way want to apply a second coat.
What’s the difference between rug glue and carpet glue?
Carpet glue is for gluing commercial carpets to a substrate, such as concrete or wood. However, many of them are also suitable for tufted rugs.
How do you apply glue to tufted rugs?
Before removing your tufted rug from the frame, spread a layer of adhesive onto the back of the rug using a pallet, flat implement, or even just your own gloved hand. Wait for it to dry before cutting it from your frame.
How long does rug glue take to dry?
Depending on the glue, it can take up to two days before the glue is completely dry. For the best results, I recommend waiting 24 hours before removing your rug from the frame.
How do I clean up rug glue?
For latex-based glues, wait until it’s dry and it should be easy to peel off. For water-based glues, you should be able to wipe it up right away with a wet cloth.
That’s it for our guide to the best glues for tufted rugs! Have any advice for intrepid tufters? Let everyone know in the comments below!