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Urea Formaldehyde Glue also known as Plastic Resin Glue

Urea Formaldehyde glues are the single most important type of glues used in the making of plywood and wood panels.

What is Urea Formaldehyde Glue, also known as Plastic Resin Glue

Urea-formaldehyde resin is a range of synthetic resins produced by the chemical combination of formaldehyde (a gas produced from methane) and urea (a solid crystal produced from ammonia). Urea-formaldehyde resins are used mostly for gluing plywood, particleboard, and other wood products. UF resins polymerize into permanently interlinked networks which are influential in the strength of the cured adhesive. After setting and hardening Urea Formaldehyde resins forms an insoluble, three-dimensional network and cannot be melted or thermo-formed.

Urea Formaldehyde insulation (UFFI) got a bad rap when it was found to be outgassing formaldehyde. This problem is no longer a significant issue because the practice of adding extra formaldehyde to insure complete reaction is no longer done in modern formulations. Outgassing is not a significant problem in boatbuilding applications.

Here is an article that talks about outgassing of formaldehyde gas in wood products.

Any chemistry lover can read this article from the International Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives on Urea-formaldehyde (UF) Adhesive Resins of Wood.

What is Urea Formaldehyde Used For?

Urea Formaldehyde is a widely used glue for plywood, particle board, wood panels and bent laminations.

The Woodworkers institute lists Urea Formaldehide as one of its 6 best Adhesive.

If a glued product is labelled furniture grade it likely has Urea Formaldehyde and is water resistant. If it labelled construction grade the adhesive is likely phenol formaldehyde and is fully waterproof. Here is a link to my page on Phenol Formaldehyde glue.

What are the Advantages of Urea Formaldehyde glue?

What are the Disadvantages of Urea Formaldehyde (Plastic Resin) Glue

So can Urea Formaldehyde be used in Boatbuilding?

Being water resistant Urea Formaldehyde has some uses. Glue deterioration occurs in damp and hot conditions.

It certainly could be used in a protected dry area that will not be submerged but might occasionally get wet. It should get a finish such as paint or varnish.

The homebuilt aircraft people have used it happily for years.

Many boats have been built with it. Here is a link to the Yachting and Boating World Forums on glues. Cascamite, Aerolite, Balcotan etc. come up many times as having been successful boat glues.

It cannot be the only adhesive used in a boat build but it can be used alongside epoxy or other waterproof glues.

If you are veneering on the other hand, you cannot find a better adhesive.

In order to improve the water resistant qualities Melamine is sometimes added. This is usually the case when a manufacturer claims improved water resistance.

Small Print

I don't claim to be an expert. I'm not an engineer or a chemist. I make mistakes. This page is not a recommendation of products, it is for information and entertainment. IF you want to build a boat with Urea Formaldehyde glue make sure you use the material as instructed by the manufacturer. There are health concerns about uncured resin, so wear gloves and work in a well ventilated area, or wear a vapor mask. Do your homework and be safe.

email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine