Archival Needs. Acid Free?
Read the packaging and labeling. Most manufacturers will note if adhesive or glue is acid free on packaging or labeling. In most cases, you need acid free glue when adhering a photo. Most adhesives will not migrate to other areas so having acid free adhesive might not be critical for embellishments or paper arts like cardmaking, collage, or altered art.
The Surface Matters. Porous or Nonporous?
Select adhesive or glue that is right for your surface and that means you need to know if your surface is porous or nonporous. If you have both types, use a glue designed for the nonporous surface. You can also help the bond by giving the nonporous surface some “teeth” by lightly sanding or scraping the nonporous surface. A porous surface breathes (paper, fabric, unfinished wood) while a nonporous surface is slick (plastics, sealed wood).
You can see clearly that it dries clear.
Not all glues dry clear. You need to check the package and labeling to make sure the glue you plan to use dries clear if there is any chance it will be seen. Sometimes, no matter how clear the glue is, it will show on certain surfaces, for example, vellum papers. Transparent materials like vellum will always be difficult to get a true clear finish to once adhesive is used consider your adhesive placement and use embellishments to cover the glue.
Bonding Differences. Permanent or Temporary?
We usually assume adhesives and glues are permanent, but that isn’t always the case. If you need a permanent bond make sure the product packaging and labeling indicate the adhesive or glue is permanent. Why use a temporary glue? You may want to reposition or remove a photo or element at some future date. Temporary glue will bond, but the bond releases with slight pressure so you will not tear a photo or paper. We got into trouble years ago when photo albums used adhesives that later became permanent. If the photo is valuable or one of a kind consider using photo corners.
Working Area. Open A Window?
All glues are chemical, but some adhesives and glues have a strong odor and should be used in a well-ventilated room. Open a window or use this glue outside. Keep out of reach of children. This glue needs to be tightly sealed or it will dry quickly and make it un-useable. You should also note that some adhesives and glues bond quickly, while others must dry. Epoxies and hot melts have a shorter working time than most liquid glues while tapes often bond instantly.
Liquid, Solid, Tape, or Hot Melt?
In most cases this is a personal choice. Liquid glue takes some practice and knowing that less is usually more when using any liquid glue. Solid adhesive is best around photos to limit any damage done by using too much adhesive. Experiment and understand that no one adhesive or glue can do every job needed for scrapbooking and the paper arts.