Best Glue for Shoes
As I am sitting here, on one of the warmest days of the year, on the shore of the ocean, I realize just how very few things we need to be happy. I am even wearing the shoes that came undone last spring and I glued them back up with a rubber cement glue I had in the garage from another project. It worked great but I can’t help but wonder what the best glue for shoes could do, so I did a bit of research.
What is the Best Glue for Shoes?
The Weldwood Contact Cement Gel is the best glue for shoe soles. You need to apply it on both surfaces that need to be glued, wait 30 minutes, and then they will stick together as soon as you apply a little pressure.
There are, of course, other options and other philosophies regarding the best way to glue shoes, which is why I have prepared the following list of the best glues for shoes on the market. They have different drying times and application methods so make sure to scroll down to the in-depth reviews I have prepared for each one of them.
- Weldwood Contact Cement Gel – 30 minutes drying time, 24 hours until fully cured, easy to apply.
- Gorilla Clear Grip Contact Adhesive – 2 minutes drying time, 24 hours until fully cured, easy to apply and waterproof.
- Shoe Goo Adhesive – 24 hours drying time, 24 to 72 hours to fully cure, difficult to apply, waterproof.
- Boot-Fix Shoe Glue – less than a minute bonding time, easy to apply.
- Gear Aid Aquaseal – 24 hours curing time
- Master Quick Contact Cement – 30 minutes drying time, 3 hours until fully cured
- Sugru Moldable Glue – 0 minutes drying time, 24 hours curing time, easy to mold and apply anywhere.
- Angelus Shoe Contact Cement – fast drying and curing time, but gives off a very bad odor
- Barge All Purpose Cement
- 3M Fastbond Contact Adhesive – extra-large container, cures in less than 4 hours
As promised, there will be a further section reviewing each of the above products and there I will elaborate on what type of shoe each glue is best suited for. Before we go into that, there is one more question that needs to be addressed.
What Glue Works on Shoes?
The short answer is that almost any glue will work on shoes but just a handful of them will still be working after a week of wearing the shoes. The reason for that is that most types of glue dry hard and the soles of shoes are soft and designed to fold, twist and support your feet from every angle as you walk. Therefore, whatever part of the shoe you are trying to glue, you will need a glue that dries elastic.
Having said that, if you had no other choice, you might consider using super glue, a notoriously rigid type of glue, on the heal of a shoe, particularly a stiletto or any type with a very rigid sole. It will still give out sooner than you would want because even the heals of high heel shoes are designed to absorb some of the impact of walking.
The same being the case with some of the more rigid dress shoes: they will take to glue better than a soft running shoe, but you would still be better of using an elastic glue.
How Do You Prepare Your Shoes for Gluing?
Although the glues featured in this article have different application methods, and different drying times, they all require the same type of surface to be at their maximum efficiency. First of all, you need to remove all types of debris and contaminants.
- You should start with a dry brush, if it is required, to remove the bigger pieces of mud and dust.
- Next, use an 800 grit sandpaper to remove any traces of the old glue that may still be lingering around.
- Finally, use a mild solvent like isopropanol to remove any micro traces of old, glue, oils from the road or any other contaminants.
- As an optional step, and just in case you have skipped step 2, use 800 grit sandpaper to scuff up the surfaces to be bonded as the glue works better with a porous surface.
Best Glue for Shoes
Now that we have gotten all that throat-clearing out of the way, we can take a closer look at the different types of glue on the market and the reasons why each individual one has made it to this list.
1. Weldwood Contact Cement Gel
As I have indicated in the first couple of paragraphs, I did not do what you, a fine reader seems to be doing, which is to say, any type of research. Instead, I just headed down to the garage and picked up the first glue that took my fancy. It didn’t occur to me that whatever glue I would use would need to be just as flexible as my shoes were.
It so happened that I had been patching a couple of flat tires on my son’s bike and a wheelbarrow I use for yard work, so I had some Weldwood contact cement lying around, and since it was able to bend and twist with the movement of the inner tube on a bicycle, I was confident it would work on shoes. The one thing I was not prepared was just how well it would work.
First, I knew I had to apply it to both surfaced that I wanted to glue together and that I would need to keep them separated for another 30 minutes. It was only the tips of my shoes that had come undone, so I used toothpicks to pry them open as much as possible, much in the way Tom keeps his eyelids open when staking out Jerry’s mouse hole.
Besides that, a little stroke of innovative genius on my part, the process goes as easy as possible. I used a third toothpick to spread out the glue on both surfaces of the shoe. It took a bit longer than I would have liked, and it would have been smart to have a dedicated small brush for this type of job, but it did not take that much longer either. As I was spreading the glue around, I realized I could have used a toothbrush, which is my top tip for you.
Once the 30 minutes were up the glue became tacky to the touch, but not sticky, I brought the sole and the shoe back together, pulled up the rubber bit that comes down from the sole to cover the tip of the shoe, and that was it. 24 hours later my shoes were as good as new. And now, a year and a few months after the fact, and many hundreds of miles walked in the shoes, the glue is still holding firm.
Therefore, based on how well the Weldwood has worked for me, as well as how easy it was to apply, I submit that it is the best glue on the market today. However, I am intrigued by some of the other glues that I was able to find and there are a few that I have actually used in the past that I could comfortably recommend if the Weldwood does not take your fancy.
2. Gorilla Clear Grip Contact Adhesive
I am not sure if it is because they have put a lot of money into advertising lately, or if the public has only now taken note of the Gorilla Glue line of products, but I too have only recently been made aware of just how much they have extended into different types of glues.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew of the Gorilla Tape and the Gorilla Glue, and I am definitely a fan. Now I am even more so considering they have taken the principle of the contact cement and improved it in their own formula. That is to say, while the Weldwood would have you wait 30 minutes for the two surfaces to become tacky but not sticky, the Gorilla Contact Adhesive only takes 2 minutes. Unfortunately, you are still going to have to wait 24 hours for it to fully cure, but the fact that it is ready to glue in less than 2 minutes means you do not have to use the whole toothpick architecture.
Not for nothing, but it should also be said that the Gorilla Contact Adhesive comes in an easy to use squeeze tube with a very thin head. That is important because, as you will see, other manufacturers give you what is basically a toothpaste tube, and that is definitely too big when it comes to fixing shoes. You can always use an old toothbrush, but why not take a moment to appreciate the elegant solution provided by Gorilla.
3. Shoe Goo Adhesive
The Shoe Goo Adhesive used to be my go-to solution for fixing shoes and it was an impeccable solution in terms of the quality of the glue provided. However, I fear you would laugh your ass off if you could see some of the solutions I came up with, in order to keep the sole in the correct position.
The problem with Shoe Goo Adhesive is that it takes 24 hours to cure and has no drying time. That means you have to keep the sole tight against the shoe for at least the first 6 hours, although ideally, you would keep it that way for the entire one day period or longer. And if you think that is easy with sports shoes or mountain boots where the sole comes up and over the tip of the shoe, then I am sure you do not know what you are talking about.
Aside from that, the fact that Shoe Goo takes that long to cure means that it is completely rubberized. What is happening in those hours is that the glue turns into rubber and becomes part of the shoe. Professional cobblers use a similar type of glue only they use a hardener or a heat treatment to cure the glue faster. However, for us, amateurs, Shoe Goo is the closest we can get to that type of shoe treatment.
4. Boot-Fix Shoe Glue
Boot-Fix comes closest to what would be a super glue designed for boots. It comes in a container that is reminiscent of super glue containers and acts just as fast. All you have to do is apply it to both sides that need to be glued and then press them together. It works instantly and you can even start wearing the shoes within minutes of applying it.
The first caveat would be that I would wait for at least a couple of hours before I would wear the shoes. Second is that I personally do not trust any type of glue that cures that fast precisely because I cannot see how it would stay flexible during the curing process.
On the other hand, a quick glance at the Amazon reviews page will show literally hundreds of positive reviews so I have to accept that the stuff works. So, it is more on the basis of those reviews that I am including it in my list, and among the top 5 products, no less.
5. Gear Aid Aquaseal SR Shoe and Boot Repair
Gear Aid is one of those companies I was telling you about earlier that just don’t know how to package their product well and make manufacturers like Gorilla look so good.
However, the packaging is the only gripe I have against the Gear Aid Aquaseal SR Shoe and Boot Repair. They use one of those formulas that require at least 24 hours to cure, but their formula is so strong you can use this glue as an external layer. I have used it on a pair of climbing shoes that had a huge tear on one side. The Gear Aid basically came in and formed an extra layer of rubber on top of the tear. It worked wonderfully for several months and then it started peeling off.
The second time around I actually used rubbing alcohol to clean the fabric before applying the Gear Aid. This time it held for a couple of years and it might still be there, I just don’t use those shoes anymore. That is the one pro tip I can give you about Gear Aid, which was called Freesole back when I used it by the way: make sure that you apply it to an absolute, surgery ready, pristine surface, and it will work wonders.
6. Master Quick Drying Contact Cement
Although the Weldwood remains my favorite brand of contact cement, I thought I would look around and try to find out if there were any other companies that were developing a similar product only an improved version. You could argue that every other product on this list is similar to the Weldwoo, but I see them as being radically different in their approach.
Master Quick Drying Contact Cement is the only other contact cement type of glue that I would be curious to test out. I have not done so myself, but I trust the many positive reviews it has on Amazon and I trust my own judgment vis a vis drying times.
As you have noticed in the case of the Boot-Fix Shoe Glue, I am not a fan of instant cure glues because they tend to dry hard, but I would consider the Master contact cement to be relatively safe. It still takes 30 minutes to become tacky and then it is fully cured in 3 hours, which is plenty of time for an elastic type of glue to cure. So, I could see how a more modern glue like the Master contact cement would be an improvement on the original Weldwood.
7. Sugru Moldable Glue
Sugru is one of those glues I actually have tried once in the past, I did not do a very good job of preparing my surface, and it failed after about 4 months. It was totally my fault though, and the only regret I have is that I never came back to test it.
It cures in 24 hours, but it is the only glue that feels like a bit of modeling clay. It is very strange in that way because you can’t imagine how it will permanently bond to a surface. However, despite my not cleaning the surface of my shoes, it adhered quite well.
I had a big gouge on the side from where the shoe would rub against the brake pedal in the car, and I used Sugru to create an artistic lip that seemed like it was a part of the sole and just coming higher up on the side of the shoe.
Therefore, considering that I applied to the outside of the shoe, on a fully contaminated surface, and it still worked for good few months, I would say that Sugru would be an excellent solution for gluing the sole of a shoe, or for fixing any other part of the shoe, only keep in mind that you need to be able to keep it tight and fastened to whatever surface it is gluing for at least 24 hours.
8. Angelus Shoe Contact Cement
I left the Angelus Shoe Contact Cement among the last products on the list for 2 reasons: one is that is just as good and has a similar performance to the Weldwood, which I have already talked about. The only difference to the Weldwood is that the Angelus will stink up your garage to where you will need to air it for at least 24 hours while the glue is drying, and even then it may not be enough.
So why did I choose to talk about it? Because, when talking about shoes, the care a manufacturer places on helping you use the glue is almost as important as the care they take in creating a truly efficient formula. The Angelus comes with a big, tin lid and an application brush which means, provided you are careful not to get any glue on the lid, this is the one glue you can use multiple times.
Moreover, the fact that you get a brush designed to apply glues, means this is perhaps the most self-sufficient and precise shoe sole gluing solution. You will need to use a solvent to clean the brush after you have used it, but because it is so small, it should not be that difficult or take too much time.
9. Barge All Purpose Cement
The Barge All Purpose Cement is one of those glues that come in what I like to call a toothpaste tube, so I am not very happy with the way they chose to bottle it. However, it gets to the tacky level in 20 minutes or less and it cures in 8 hours. So, it is a pretty fast-acting glue and all you need do is take those extra 30 seconds when you are done applying the glue to clean the screw part of the tube.
In terms of the quality of the glue, as long as you follow the steps, I have already detailed about preparing your work surface, it will hold for far longer than the rest of the shoe will survive. It is one of the most elastic glues I have ever seen, which means it is great to be used on extra soft-soled shoes like tennis shoes.
10. 3M Fastbond Contact Adhesive
In terms of the quality of the product there is no faulting 3M. You could argue that they are the lead producers of adhesive no matter the field of type of application. Thus, I will not go into praising the 3M Contact Adhesive, except to say that it is one of the few types of glue that cure in about 4 hours and that I would trust to use on my shoes.
The only problem I have with the 3M is that even in their smallest container, it is still more glue than I would know what to do with for the next 5 to 10 years. As a result, the price is also quite high, but it is definitely worth it if you know that you are going to get to actually use the glue.