Best Glues for Shell Crafts & Craft Projects

 Choosing the right glue is essential for ensuring shells stay securely attached to surfaces.

Best Glues for Shell Crafts
Hot glue was used.

People often ask for recommendations on the best glues and adhesives for different types of shell projects and other coastal crafts such a. So here are some glues and adhesives commonly used for shell crafts.  

Best Glue and Adhesive to use for Shell Crafts to Attach shells to thing

Hot Glue

Hot glue is the glue most used for shell crafts. Hot glue was used to revamp the painted basket above, as well as to create the shell wreath below. Hot glue guns are convenient for instant bonding. You simply put hot glue on the shells and place shells on the surface. Hold shells for a few seconds, that's all it takes for hot glue to bond and to dry. This is especially great when you want to glue shells on surfaces that are vertical, such as baskets, pots, vases and jars. Most people use hot glue to create Framed Shell Art, Shell Boxes, and Miniature Cone Shell Trees, just to mention a few Shell Crafts

For small projects, a small hot glue gun will do, for larger projects you might want to size up. Also, be aware that high temp glue guns stick shells in place immediately, while low temp glue guns give you a little wiggle room.

To avoid glue strings, use high quality glue sticks and allow glue gun to heat up fully before use.

You could use hot glue along with a more durable strong bond glue -Apply strong bonding glue to shells (or surface) then a dab of hot glue for instant bond. 

Not the strongest bond compared to other options. Some shells may pop off over time. Hot glue may not be the best choice for long-term durability, especially if the finished piece will be exposed to heat or moisture, and hot glue is not the best glue to use for materials that may bend or flex. Can sometimes leave visible residue or strings.

Hot glue for making a shell wreath
Hot glue was used.

Tacky Craft Glue for Shell Crafts
Tacky craft glue was used.

Tacky Craft Glue

Tacky craft glue was used to adhere shells to the wood candle holders. Each shell was held in place until the glue set up. Tacky glues are easy to use and there is a variety of tacky craft glues out there. Many crafters swear by Aleene's Tacky Glue that dries clear. It's thick, durable and bonds quickly. Tacky craft glues allow for readjusting shells as they take a while to bond. Glue seems to bond really well to wood, and linen backing in frames to Create Shell Art, for example.  

How quickly it bonds (and dries) may depend on the size of the shells and the surface. May only be suitable for smaller projects. Does not offer the strongest bond compared to other glues. 

best glue for shells
Liquid nails was used.

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Super Strong Glues

Crafters often rely on super strong glues for larger projects for their versatility and strong bonding capabilites. Liquid Nails, for example, was used to make the above oyster shell bathroom mirror since it had to hold up to the humidity from the shower. 

Here are some super strong glues commonly used for shell crafts. 

Liquid Nails

This adhesive is often used in construction and remodeling projects. It's hard to rip anything apart that is stuck together with Liquid Nails! Dispensing Liquid Nails with a caulk gun is the easiest application. This is an inexpensive adhesive compared to other options. 

It can be messy to apply, especially if you're not experienced with using it.

How to Attach Shells to Terra Cotta Pots
Gorilla glue and grout was used.

Gorilla Glue

Gorilla glue is known for its strong bond and fast-setting formula. It works well on a wide range of materials, including wood, metal, ceramics, rubber, and more. Can be used indoors and outdoors. 

Gorilla Glue tends to expand as it dries, which can create unsightly bumps. It can also be quite brittle once it dries thus become rigid which might put pressure on more delicate shells. 

E6000 was used to repair a vintage shell box.


E6000 seems to be a popular go to glue when a shell project just needs an extra strong bond and hot glue and tacky glue just might not be enough. This industrial-strength adhesive is highly versatile and works well with a variety of materials, including shells. It forms a strong, clear bond and is waterproof once cured. This glue retains some flexibility, meaning it doesn't dry as hard and rigid as other strong glues.

Takes long to dry, especially in more humid climates. This glue is toxic and should be kept away from children and pets.

When to use epoxy glue for seashells shell crafts
Martha Stewart 
A dab of two-part epoxy glue was used.

Epoxy Glues

Epoxy glues are a type of adhesive that consists of two parts: resin and hardener. Once mixed, epoxy forms a very strong, rigid bond that is resistant to heat, chemicals, and water. It's often used for bonding materials that require a very strong, permanent bond, such as metal, glass, and ceramics. Epoxy glue typically offers one of the strongest bonds available in the adhesive market. 

Requires careful mixing of its two components. Epoxy glues can emit harmful fumes during the curing process. 

Marine Goop to Make Shell Mail Boxes Best Shell Craft Adhesives
Some are made using Marine Goop.

Marine Goop 

Marine Goop is designed to create a strong, waterproof bond and seal against water, moisture, and other environmental factors commonly encountered in marine applications. Some crafters use Marine Goop to create Shell Mail Boxes, for example. Marine Goop typically comes in a tube that can be easily applied using a caulking gun or squeezed directly from the tube. It cures usually within 24 hours, depending on temperature and humidity conditions.

Like many adhesives, Marine Goop can emit strong fumes during application and curing. This glue has specific storage requirements to maintain its effectiveness. Improper storage can lead to premature drying or hardening of the product.

Clear Silicone Adhesives

An adhesive often chosen for its transparency and flexibility, making it suitable for sealing, bonding, and caulking in a wide range of industries and applications. Silicone adhesives typically come in a paste or gel form, and are known for their resistance to moisture, heat, chemicals, and UV radiation, making them suitable for outdoor use. This adhesive is suitable for shell crafts that require a more flexible bond. It's particularly useful for attaching shells to curved or irregular surfaces.

Like epoxy glues, silicone adhesives can emit fumes during the curing process. 

Glues to Use for Shell Crafts Most commonly used glues by crafters

Best Glues for Shell Crafts & Shell Projects?

My take away and recommendations: 

1) Hot Glue & Tacky Glue for Smaller Indoor Shell Projects

Use hot glue for smaller indoor shell projects for its ease of use and fast bond. As an alternative to the hot glue gun, go with tacky glue, especially when your shell project can lay flat, such as adhering shells to a picture frame, for example.  

2) Go to Strong Glue: Gorilla Glue

For anything larger and on the heavier side, anything that has to withstand some elements, Gorilla glue is a great go to strong glue. It seems to be the least toxic strong glue. But it does expand by a little when curing and might not hold up as well as other strong glues, depending on your shell project. The shell soap dish, for example, was attached to its "shell base" with Epoxy glue. 

3) Commonly Used Industrial Strength Strong Glues: E6000 & Epoxy Glues

E6000 and Epoxy glues are the strongest glues of them all. And you might have to use them depending on your shell project. 

4) Strong Glues to Try

The Liquid Nails adhesive sounds very intriguing, so does Marine Goop for an outdoor project. I would definitely try both.