Contact Cement vs Rubber Cement – What Is the Difference?

For DIY home renovation or an art project, cement is a common material with many applications. Different types are available, including contact cement and rubber cement. What is the difference between the two? 

The table below shows a quick summary of the main differences between contact cement and rubber cement: 

 Contact Cement Rubber Cement
Materials Natural rubber and neoprene Elastic polymer and solvent 
Applications Wood, tiles, metal, leather, plasticCardboard, paper 
Drying Time Slower Quicker
Removal Difficult Easy 
Repositioning Difficult Easy 

Read on to learn more about contact cement vs. rubber cement, and we’ll help you decide which option is better for your needs. 

What Is the Difference Between Contact Cement and Rubber Cement?

contact cement vs rubber cement
Rubber Cement

Unsure about the type of cement to use? Below, we’ll have a quick look at some of their main differences to help you choose the more appropriate material for the intended project. 

1. Material 

One of the main differences between the two is when it comes to what they are made of. Contact cement is made of natural rubber or polychloroprene (neoprene).

On the other hand, rubber cement is made of elastic polymers, most commonly latex mixed with a solvent, such as:

  • Heptane
  • Hexane
  • Toluene
  • Acetone 

2. Applications 

When choosing a type of cement, a crucial consideration is its intended use. Contact cement is best for applications that require a strong bond. This flexible acrylic adhesive will work best when bonding wood, tiles, metal, leather, and plastic. 

On the other hand, rubber cement is for lighter and more delicate applications, such as cardboard and paper. It creates a temporary bond between thin and lightweight materials, making it perfect for art or handicraft projects. 

3. Drying Time 

Between the two, rubber cement dries quicker. It will take only two minutes for it to dry. When you apply a thick coat, the drying time can take up to 15 minutes or even longer.

On the other hand, contact cement will take 15 to 30 minutes to dry. However, take note that the drying time can also vary from one brand to another. 

One of the most important things to note about contact cement is that it does not completely dry or cure. This is also one of its biggest benefits. The solvent will evaporate and leave a tacky polymer glue layer.

4. Removal 

You might have accidentally spilled cement in an area where it should not be. There can also be leftovers on surfaces. With this, rubber cement is easier to remove.

Even on thin materials, there is a minimal likelihood of damage. On the other hand, it will require more effort to remove contact cement. For instance, you might need to apply heat or solvent. 

5. Repositioning 

It is common to commit mistakes when trying to glue two materials. When such happens, rubber cement is easier to remove because it is a flexible material that can easily dissolve.

On the other hand, contact cement is often stronger and creates a more permanent bond. Hence, it can be more challenging to reposition. 

What Is Contact Cement?

Creates a Permanent, Flexible, and Quick Bond

One of the most popular adhesives, contact cement, is a favorite material of many DIYers. This neoprene rubber adhesive has a reputation for creating a permanent, flexible, and quick bond.

Mostly Used in Heavy and Non-porous Materials

It is used in a wide array of materials but is most popular in those that are non-porous and cannot be handled by other adhesives. 

Contact cement is popular when adhering to large and heavy surfaces, including kitchen countertops. It quickly dries, unlike other adhesives.

Does Not Require Clamping for the Surfaces to Bond

After evaporation, contact cement creates a flexible bond without residual moisture. More so, it does not require clamping for the surfaces to bond.

Apply the Glue to Both Surfaces

During its application, it is crucial to remember that you will need to apply the glue on both surfaces. It is called contact cement because the adhesive must be in contact with each other to work.

Applying it only to one material will result in its inability to adhere; hence, such will be a waste of time and money. 

Two Types of Contact Cement

Two main types of contact cement are available. The first is water-based, which does not have VOCs. Since they do not have chemicals, they are safer but form a weaker bond.

The second type is solvent-based. As the name implies, it contains a solvent, which is why it has chemicals. 

How to Apply Contact Cement

contact cement or rubber cement

Even if you are a beginner, applying contact cement is quick. Here’s a short step-by-step guide on how you can do so:

  1. Find the right location to work. Ideally, it should be somewhere with excellent ventilation. 
  2. Before you start, make sure that you clean the surfaces that you intend to bond. By removing dirt and debris, it is easier for the adhesive to bond. 
  3. Use a disposable roller or brush for applying contact cement. One of the most important is to apply it on both sides. This type of cement adheres by being in contact with each other. So, using it on a single side will make it useless. 
  4. Let the materials rest for at least 15 minutes, or wait until the contact cement is dry. Wait until it sets.
  5. Once it is done, clean the excess glue from the sides. Since it contains acetone, a practical material that you can use is a nail polish remover. 

How to Remove Contact Cement 

If you need to remove contact cement, here’s what you will need to do: 

  1. Start by looking at the ingredients of the contact cement you used. Look for a solvent that contains the same ingredients. 
  2. Use the solvent to moisten the glue. Consider the material that you are working on. For instance, if you use lacquer thinner or acetone, take note that they have harsh ingredients that will damage the plastic. 
  3. Wait until the glue is softer. Remove with a wire brush or scraper if the glue is on a hard surface. As you scrub, tiny balls will form, which you can finish removing using your fingers. 

Pros and Cons of Choosing Contact Cement


Are you looking for more compelling reasons to choose contact cement? Below are some of the most notable benefits that can convince you. 

  • A strong adhesive that creates a permanent bond between two surfaces 
  • It comes with a long shelf-life 
  • Water-resistant to minimize damage over time 
  • Activating the bonding process does not need heat 


Despite the many good things, contact cement also has shortcomings, including the following: 

  • It does not perform well in porous materials 
  • Can be prone to cracking and peeling 
  • Sun exposure can cause the color to fade 
  • Difficult to repair once there are cracks 

Again, are rubber cement and contact cement the same? Rubber cement is different from contact cement. You can use rubber cement to bond rubber with other materials, while contact cement can bond two surfaces or materials together.

What Is Rubber Cement?

Made from Elastic Polymers and Solvents

Elastic polymers are the primary materials used in making rubber cement. They are combined with solvents, such as hexane and acetone, to create a stronger adhesive. After its application, the solvents will evaporate. Flexible particles are left behind, which is responsible for creating a strong bond. 

Different manufacturers can offer a variation in their formula of rubber cement. Nonetheless, many of them use the same ingredients.

In the past, benzene is one of the most common components. Nonetheless, after numerous studies showing benzene can cause cancer, such material has been removed from the ingredients.

Can Be Applied to a Single Surface

Joining surfaces with rubber cement is easy. It can be applied to a single surface. This is unlike in the case of contact cement, wherein you will need to use adhesive to both surfaces to bond.

It goes through a process known as wet mounting. Even after application, you can move the materials, and once the adhesive sets, it will result in a strong bond. 

Time Sensitive

When applying rubber cement, take note that it is time sensitive. Hence, it can lose stickiness. Plus, it can suffer from chemical breakdown, especially during storage. Proper handling is a must to ensure its best properties. 

How to Apply Rubber Cement

is contact cement and rubber cement the same thing

The application of rubber cement is an easy task, which you can accomplish by doing the following: 

  1. Start by finding a well-ventilated area where you will work. Since rubber cement can contain toxic chemicals, applying it in an enclosed space can be dangerous, depending on the manufacturer’s formula. 
  2. Apply rubber cement to one of the surfaces you wish to adhere to. Apply as little as possible. While there is no harm in applying a thick layer, it will take longer to dry. 
  3. Let the rubber cement evaporate for a few seconds. Wait until it looks less shiny and wet before putting the other material on top. 
  4. While waiting to dry, move the materials to the desired position. Adjusting the position should be done before the adhesive dries out. 
  5. The steps below are best if you want a temporary bond. If you want a permanent bond, on the other hand, consider applying the adhesive on both surfaces. This is the same thing you would do when using contact cement. Before putting the materials together, you should wait until the rubber cement is nearly dry. 

How to Remove Rubber Cement 

If you find yourself in a situation with residual rubber cement, don’t worry. You can remove it easily by doing the following: 

  1. Use the back of a plastic spoon to scrape rubber cement off the surface. This will work best if the rubber has not yet dried thoroughly. 
  2. Put rubbing alcohol in a clean cloth until it is damp but not soaking. 
  3. Lightly pat the rubber cement using the cloth with alcohol. 
  4. Next, apply mineral spirit to rubber cement and use it to brush the rubber cement. 
  5. Finish by applying water to a clean cloth. Use it and apply enough force to remove any remaining rubber cement on the surface. 

Pros and Cons of Using Rubber Cement as an Adhesive


Are you not yet convinced that rubber cement is an excellent adhesive? Here are some of its advantages that might make you change your mind: 

  • A versatile adhesive with many applications 
  • Especially suited for arts and crafts 
  • It does not wash off even when it rains 
  • Dries within a short time 
  • Easy availability at affordable prices 
  • Will not damage paper and other thin materials 


While it is beneficial in many ways, contact cement also has several drawbacks, including the following: 

  • It does not work for heavy and thick materials 
  • It can lose its stickiness over time 
  • Can suffer from chemical breakdown due to age 

Frequently Asked Questions – Contact Cement and Rubber Cement

What Is the Difference Between Rubber Cement and Contact Cement? 

One of the most important things to consider when comparing rubber cement vs. contact cement is its purpose. Rubber cement is best for art projects and lighter materials.

In contrast, contact cement is for thicker materials. Also, rubber cement can adhere with only a coat on a single surface. This is unlike contact cement, which requires spreading the adhesive on two surfaces. 

What Is Better – Contact Cement or Rubber Cement? 

There is no easy way to answer this question. It depends on the purpose. Rubber cement is better if you wish to bond lightweight materials, such as paper or cardboard.

On the other hand, if you work with heavier materials, such as wood or metal, you should use contact cement instead.

Does Temperature Affect the Drying Time of Rubber Cement and Contact Cement? 

Yes, the temperature impacts the drying time of adhesives, including rubber cement and contact cement. The higher the temperature is, the faster it will dry. Nonetheless, other factors will also be crucial. For instance, it can also depend on humidity. Low humidity will accelerate drying time. 

In Closing – Contact Cement vs. Rubber Cement – What is the Difference? 

Below is a quick summary of the main differences between contact cement and rubber cement: 

 Contact Cement Rubber Cement
Materials Natural rubber and neoprene Elastic polymer and solvent 
Applications Wood, tiles, metal, leather, plasticCardboard, paper 
Drying Time Slower Quicker
Removal Difficult Easy 
Repositioning Difficult Easy 

Contact and rubber cement are two suitable materials if you are looking for an adhesive. However, please take note that they have different properties. For most art projects, rubber cement is an excellent material. It works best on thin materials, especially those that will require repositioning.

On the other hand, contact cement is a better option if you work with heavier and thicker materials. It can adhere even without clamping. 

Whether using contact cement or rubber cement, working in a well-ventilated area is crucial. Also, you will need to clean the surfaces to ensure a stronger adhesion. Lastly, pick one from a reliable manufacturer for the best outcomes. 

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