How to choose the best glue for repairing your footwear
While a pricy pair of brogues or designer heels might be worth taking to the cobblers for professional repair, splits, or damage to your common-or-garden pair of shoes can often be easily fixed with some glue. But there are hundreds of different types and brands of glue out there, suitable for sticking virtually anything together, so what makes glue for shoes different?
As we walk, shoes are subject to a huge amount of bending and stretching. That means that not only must glue for shoes be able to stick plastics, leathers, rubber, and other materials, but it must also be flexible. Some glues, such as regular super glue, might form a strong bond quickly, but the formula is brittle and may not be suitable for a long-term fix.
Shoe glue also needs to be resistant to water, because the last thing you need is for your shoe to start disintegrating in the rain. And finally it needs to resist expansion when it dries to avoid leaving you with uncomfortable lumps.
Our verdicts have been decided by the range of materials each glue can stick, price and online reviews from a variety of sources. Read on for our advice and our pick of the best glue for shoes.
How to choose the best glue for shoes for you
Can shoe glue make a permanent repair?
For years, shoe soles have been bonded-on using a range of adhesives, so there’s no reason why a good glue for shoes shouldn’t result in a permanent repair. It’s just important to follow the instructions carefully, and to ensure the surfaces you’re glueing are clamped together until the glue has properly cured.
How long does shoe glue take to set?
Some types of glue can set properly in minutes, while others can take several hours. So the glue you choose may largely be governed by how urgently you need to wear the shoes after mending them.
Bear in mind that it can be tricky to wipe away excess fast-drying glue. And remember that, while a glue might form a bond quickly, it may still take a day or more to fully cure, so always read the instructions.
Do I need any special equipment to glue shoes?
No. In fact, it’s likely you will already have everything you need around the house. If you’re bonding smooth surfaces, such as hard plastic, or the metal found in work boots, rough it up with some sandpaper first in order to get the best adhesion. And then make sure that the surfaces you’re glueing are clean.
Once you’ve wiped away any dust, fluff, or grit, you can apply the glue using a lolly stick or a scrap of wood as a spreader. And it’s a good idea to keep an old cloth to hand to wipe away any excess glue. If you’re using a glue that only takes a few minutes to set, you will be able to hold the surfaces together with your hands. If the glue takes several hours to set, then a clamp will hold it all firm. But tape or rubber bands may work equally well.
Can glue for shoes work on all kinds of footwear?
Some kinds of shoe glue will stick virtually anything together, while others are only suited to particular types of material. You should always check what your shoe is made from, then look carefully at the glue’s instructions to be certain it’s appropriate.
READ MORE: Best sewing machines
The best shoe glue you can buy in 2023
1. Shoe Goo II: Best permanent glue for shoes
Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at AmazonShoe Goo II has been specially formulated, as its name suggests, for glueing shoes. It doesn’t smell as strong as the original Shoe Goo, it’s solvent-free, and it’s a little thinner too. That means it will allow you a little more time to work it into the correct areas and you’re also less likely to stick your fingers together.
It dries clear, but it’s worth noting it leaves a shiny finish. So, if you’re repairing footwear with a matt finish, make sure you remove any excess with a cloth, and a splash of acetone if needed, before it dries. Shoe Goo’s manufacturer claims it’s possible to scrape away excess glue after it’s dry, but it’s much easier to do this while it’s still malleable.
The original Shoo Goo was designed to repair tennis shoes, but it can also be used to fix skate boots – and to even coat skateboards for extra grip – as well as repair most common kinds of shoes.
Key specs – Pack size: 26.6ml; Cure time: 48 hours; Colour when dry: clear
2. Boot-Fix Shoe Glue: Best instant glue for shoes
Price when reviewed: £18 | Check price at AmazonAnother product that does what it says on the tin is Boot-Fix Glue. At first glance, this fast-drying glue looks like super glue – it’s a clear liquid in that familiar-shaped bottle with a long conical nozzle. Apply it and you will find it bonds instantly too. Where it differs is that it’s fully-flexible to withstand the constant bending and stretching that shoes are subjected to.
The glue is thin, making it easy to spread. And, unlike Original Gorilla Glue, it won’t expand, so you won’t be left with any uncomfortable bumps rubbing your feet. Boot-Fix claims it’s heatproof and moisture resistant to the extent it will still maintain a bond after materials have been submerged in water for days. It’s not cheap, but it should be enough to fix ten shoes, making the per repair cost pleasingly low.
Key specs – Pack size: 20g; Cure time: 10-45 seconds (bond); Colour when dry: clear
3. Loctite Super Glue Power Gel: Best multi-purpose glue for shoes
Price when reviewed: £4.55 | Check price at AmazonLoctite’s Super Glue Power Gel isn’t specifically designed for shoes but, with its resistance to bending and twisting, it’s still perfectly suitable. It also has two other appealing attributes: firstly, it’s well suited to other repairs around the house as it will also stick metal, china, plastic, and wood, and secondly, it’s significantly cheaper than most other purpose-made shoe glue options.
Power Gel claims to be Loctite’s most powerful super glue yet. It still dispenses by squeezing the easily controllable bottle, but the most obvious difference is that it emerges as a gel which is designed not to drip. It also features an anti-clog cap, which should increase its shelf life after the first use.
One word of caution: Loctite recommends testing on an unseen patch of leather first as, while it dries clear, it could leave a mark on some surfaces.
Key specs – Pack size: 4g; Cure time: 10 minutes; Colour when dry: clear