Adhesive Review: The Good, The Bad and The Tacky

Today Scrapbook Update welcomes guest blogger Molly McCarthy for a comprehensive review of scrapbook dot adhesives.

When not testing adhesive, Molly McCarthy teaches Cricut and Photoshop classes at Treasured Memories Scrapbook Store, Inc. as well as serving as a marketing consulting within the scrapbook industry. She resides in Oak Park, CA with her husband and two kids who provide endless story and photo opportunities for her scrapbook pages. To learn more about Molly, follow her on Twitter.

In need of a new adhesive that holds your paper and photos together on your next layout? Scrapbook Update has tested eight everyday-use adhesives and is reporting back on the good, the bad and the tacky!

The good news is that adhesives have improved tremendously over the years. The eight adhesives tested did a commendable job adhering paper-to-paper and paper-to-photo. They were tested on both flat and textured cardstock (i.e. Bazzill) and all held items together, though some did a better job than others on the textured cardstock.  The best application for all of these adhesives is on flat cardstock or photos but it’s nice to know that the industry has tried to address one of paper crafters’ biggest complaints regarding adhesive’s tackiness and the ever-popular textured cardstock lines.

If all of the adhesives worked in a straight line on flat cardstock, then what is there left to talk about? For this review, I added three other factors that are useful in an everyday adhesive. These included the ability to move around curved shapes, ability to remove stray adhesive, and the ability to reposition an item once it was adhered down.

Best Overall Adhesive
Scotch Adhesive Dot Roller (49 feet)
This is the best overall adhesive for day-to-day use. It goes on smoothly and evenly, and it goes around curves with ease. Because of its tiny dots, it’s easy to remove stray adhesive and it’s forgiving enough to rearrange paper or photos on the page. The dots stay put, making it easy to reapply paper/photo. It also gets high marks for a dispenser that has been created using 65% recycled material.

Best Around Curves
American Crafts – This to That Dots (32 feet)
This adhesive has the tiniest adhesive dots. Because of the thin line and the tiny dots this adhesive can go around a curve like Mario Andretti at the Indy 500 and not lose any of its adhesive. It’s ergonomic design makes it easy to tell the correct way to hold it. The protective cap is not attached, though, so I worry about misplacing it while working.

Easiest to Remove
Tombow Mono Adhesive DOTS (49 feet)
Tombow DOTS were the easiest to remove with a gum eraser or a finger. This works well when you get a bit crazy with the adhesive.

Most Tacky
3L Scrapbook Adhesives E-Z Runner (33 feet)
This adhesive wins hands down on tackiness (the good kind). If you have two items that you never want to be separated, then this is the adhesive for you! The E-Z Runner holds two items together like they are in a vise.

Most Innovative Design
Martha Stewart Crafts Tab and Roll (32.8 feet)
The Tab and Roll adhesive is designed to be two adhesives in one. When in stamp mode, you will get a small tab of adhesive – which is great for those who want to conserve their glue. It can then be switched to a roller mode for longer adhesive strips. In either mode, it works best on flat paper on a flat surface. The bulky cartridge makes it difficult to keep the unit flat when in roller mode, so some adhesive dots don’t adhere correctly. It’s also unfortunate that adhesive is wasted when switching between the tab and roller modes. Keep trying Martha!

Most Difficult to Find
Kokuyo Dotliner (52.5 feet)
Last year when Kokuyo announced it was discontinuing its American distribution of the popular Dotliner, scrapbookers began to stockpile this beloved adhesive. While it can be found on several specialty online sites in its Japanese packaging, it’s not sold in mass distribution as it used to be. For those who love this adhesive, the Scotch Adhesive Dot Roller is almost the twin sister of the Kokuyo brand. It works and functions pretty much exactly like the Kokuyo. Note: Don’t confuse the Kokuyo Dotliner with the Dotliner POWER. They are completely different adhesives.

Widest Adhesive
Kokuyo Dotliner POWER (32 feet)
At 10mm, this adhesive is the widest I tested. It is super tacky and will hold your project together tightly. It works best in a straight line. The adhesive case is huge and difficult to hold, not to mention difficult to find at your local scrapbook store. A good substitute is the Scrapbook Adhesives E-Z Runner. It’s not as wide but it definitely has the tackiness to hold a project together.

Quietest Adhesive
The Duck (27 feet)
If you’re working in “stealth” mode late at night, the Duck will adhere your items with quiet ease. They’ve changed the adhesives’ shape from dots to lines so it’s no longer possible to erase stray adhesive, but if you’re working into the wee hours and don’t want to wake your family this is a good choice.

For a complete guide to the features of all the adhesives that Molly tested, download our PDF comparison chart of dot adhesives!

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23 Responses to Adhesive Review: The Good, The Bad and The Tacky

  1. Marta Valdes July 26, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Thank you Molly for doing the research for us. This is very helpful for us scrapbookers and cardmakers. I am definitely going to use Scotch as my back-up and travel companion. I currently have 3L Scrapbook Adhesive and Tombow, which I like both. A girl can not have enough adhesive in her collection.

  2. Linda July 26, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Great information. Thanks, Molly

  3. Carrie Harville July 26, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Last time I bought Scotch, all of the photos fell off of the pages within 6 months. It happened to a bunch of people on the forum I frequent. This was years ago, so maybe they’ve fixed that problem? Thanks for the great review!

    • Molly McCarthy July 26, 2010 at 11:23 am #

      Carrie – I think I remember that adhesive! The Scotch Adhesive Dot Roller was released at CHA Winter 2010 and it definitely works differently than their old one. If you give it or any others a try let me know your thoughts!


  4. Gayle Stauffacher July 26, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    I never try to remove any of the roller adhesive. NOT that I don’t overuse sometimes. Try baby powder on the cards (that’s where I use my dot rollers). Not only does it remove any stickiness, the cards smell good!!

  5. Karen A Summers July 26, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    I was just wondering why Hermafix, removable was not included in this study. It is the only adhesive I use for scrapbooking and cardmaking. I so love the right to change my mind. Other than the fact that they are a pain to refill, I have had such remarkable luck with this adhesive that I don’t use anything else for the type of adhering mentioned in this article.

    • Molly McCarthy July 27, 2010 at 12:19 am #

      Karen – You’re right! I didn’t mean to “skip over” Hermafix. I was concentrating on the latest releases and ones that had changed their formula in the past year. I’m so glad that you enjoy your Hermafix – keep scrapping!


  6. Dana July 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    This is such terrific information! Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Renee T (italgal on BPS) July 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    Thank you for such comprehensive information, and for putting it in a format we can print for future reference. I was about ready to give up on textured cardstock, but now I am going to give some of your suggestions another try. TFS!

    • Molly McCarthy July 27, 2010 at 12:26 am #

      Renee – Let me know which one works for you (I’m always curious about everyone’s favorite!).

  8. Terri Harmon July 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    I’m with Karen. I use Hermafix repositionable adhesive for almost everything. It’s very easy to remove stray adhesive and I find it works well with textured cardstock. Also, everything stays bonded together once it’s been in place for a while.

    • Molly McCarthy July 27, 2010 at 12:25 am #

      Terri – that’s interesting that you should say that the Hermafix repositionable adhesive bonds together. It’s my understanding, from EK Success, that their repositionable glue never becomes completely permanent. Is that not the case anymore? If not, I think I’ll need to check that one out!

  9. Gab July 27, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    Thanks for that review!

  10. Edie Malin July 27, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Scotch ATG is my all time fave. And it’s now available at Michaels!

  11. Lisa Florence July 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Thank you so much for you in-depth reporting. I am going to try some of your recommentations. I’m using the tombow mono now, I think I’ll try the dots too. Great article! Lisa

  12. Jennifer McIntyre July 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Nice review on the mainstay of our crafting – glue. Still “sticking” with Hermafix removable and perm for the majourity of my craft projects. . . just can’t give it up – – I’ll try the Scotch brand next time I am at the TM shop – hoping they carry it there – – I like to test drive things before they show up at the Blue Barn!!

  13. Jasmine July 28, 2010 at 1:39 am #

    Love seeing these glues put side by side. Perhaps you could do an add-on with the few other existing popular brands like Herma and GlueArts.

  14. Yvonne July 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Thanks for the review, Molly. I’m an ATG fan, but I find this review helpful for alternatives!

  15. Donna Clark July 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    Thanks Molly! Very informative! I’m a new GlueArts fan and love the ease of changing out the cartridges….plus they are available at my favorite scrapbook store….Treasured Memories in Oak Park California!!!

  16. Tammy Tutterow July 30, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Would have loved to have seen Therm O Web included in your review. They make three different types of adhesives in runners. Helmar also has a runner that is becoming very popular.

  17. electric sizzix August 1, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    This is a great review thank you very much

  18. Kelly B. August 1, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    I appreciate the comprehensive review. The adhesive I personally like the most is the Duck Adhesive Runner, although I will say that I was disappointed when it changed from dots to lines…it makes it more awkward to use, as sometimes bits hang over the edge and have to be folded back underneath, making it less easy to put it right where you want it and ONLY where you want it. But I love being able to change my mind on placement within a minute or two and not tear up my papers by moving something on the page.

  19. Marlene and Chris Chamberlin August 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    thanks Molly! I still love the old school herma tabs, and love my red duck… I mostly use the 3L ez-runner…. and love my pink/green glue glider pro for larger projects….
    My sister, who doesn’t scrap laughed at me once when she saw all the different types of adhesive and why each one was important (glue dots, normal adhesive, x-machine, glue sticks, )…. funny…

Let us know your thoughts!