What glue do you use when basing miniatures? The kind of glue you should use will depend on the material you’re using to flock or base your models. Whether you using sand, grass flock, resin, cork, or other material, you’ll want a strong and durable adhesive.
In this article, I highlight the pros and cons of four types of common glues for basing miniatures and models.
Check out this chart below for a quick look at 4 common types of glues:
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Not good for porous material
Requires good surface area
Slower to cure
Harder to apply
Hard to use in small quantity
Only for plastics
More technical application
Only for plastics
More technical application
Continue reading below about best glue for basing miniatures.
Why Base Miniatures?
Great, you’ve finished painting your models!
But, why are their bases bare plastic?
If you’ve gotten far enough to paint your miniatures, then you have all the skills you need to finish the base.
Basing models doesn’t need to be complicated. All you need are simple materials like sand or pieces of cork to create a scenic base.
Of course, you can really go nuts with base-making. Use sculpting materials to really take your painted miniature to the next level.
You can even whittle some bass wood like I did here to make a base for your models.
Or, you can use texture pastes like Citadel technical paints to quickly add some flair to your bases. Don’t want to spend much money? Try these alternatives to the Citadel texture paints.
Kinds of Glues for Basing Miniatures?
There are 3 kinds of common glues you can use to base your miniatures:
- Super Glue (or Cyanoacrylate)
- PVA Glue (or White Glue)
- Plastic Model Cement (or Plastic Glue)
- Two-Part Epoxy
Super glue, crazy glue, or cyanoacrylate is the best universal glue for basing miniatures. This glue works on almost any and every material you might consider for basing flock, sand, or other things to your bases.
If you’re looking to glue more porous materials like wood, paper, or cork, then realize that super glue may not work that well. This is especially true for the thinner viscosity super glues.
Try thick, gel versions of super glue if you want to use it for basing miniatures and models. The thicker versions of the glue will help you apply it to the various materials that you may want to use on your bases.
Remember that super glue requires some water moisture to bond to a surface.
The reasons some people complain that their super glue doesn’t dry is that they may be trying to use it in a very dry environment. The failure of cyanoacrylate to bond could be the lack of moisture.
If you’re having problems with your super glue bonding to your basing material, you can use an accelerant, like zip kicker.
Overall, super glue is the best glue for basing miniatures because it is strong, fast-acting, and works across different basing materials.
White PVA glue is also one of the best glues for basing your models. PVA glue is a water-based glue that is commonly used in arts & crafts.
For hobbyists, it is a great go-to for many projects that require gluing porous materials, e.g., wood, paper, cardboard.
For miniatures, PVA glue is perfect for gluing cork board for replicating the look of rock or stone.
If you are gluing EPS or insulation foam terrain to your bases, PVA white glue will work really well. Be aware that you probably won’t be able to carve through glued foam with a hot wire foam cutter very well.
White glue doesn’t have the strength or durability of cyanoacrylate (aka super glue). Additionally, PVA glue is more flexible after it has dried. This may or may not be useful for you for basing your models.
Check out this cool tutorial using PVA glue for basing a lava base.
For adhering heavier objects, like rocks or large pieces of resin, white glue will likely fail at some point. White glue needs good surface contact and relies on that surface area contact for its bonding strength.
Plastic Model Cement
Plastic cement is a less commonly-used glue for basing models.
This is because plastic cement is limited to bonding styrene based plastic materials only.
Even though plastic glue is great for miniature plastic kits, like those for Citadel’s Warhammer 40k or Age of Sigmar models, plastic cement doesn’t work well outside of these types of plastic.
That means that plastic model cement will not work on resin, pewter metal, or other paper products for basing miniatures.
Plastic cement works through a chemical process where it melts styrene plastic and fuses those melted surfaces back together after the cement has cured. Plastic cement is a permanent bond for plastics.
I recommend plastic cement for basing miniatures when you want to create custom features using plastic card, spare bits and sprues, or scratch-built basing features with styrene material.
Be careful with plastic cements. Many of these products release harmful fumes and vapors. Work with plastic glue in an area with good ventilation. Remember you won’t need a lot of plastic cement for it to work. Less is more!
Two-part epoxies are the glues you go to when all else fails. These are the strongest adhesives you can use for basing your models.
When you’re looking for a stronger bond for basing your miniatures, two-part epoxies are awesome. For heavy basing materials, like rocks, pebbles, or large pieces of resin, two-part epoxy will handle the job.
Two-part epoxies do require a bit more work to use, however. You will need to mix the two parts of the epoxy together in the correct ratio for it to cure, properly.
This works to your advantage, though, since you will have more working-time to apply the epoxy to your working surface.
Two-part epoxies are especially nice for those of you who are trying to create water-effects or other special effects.
Cured epoxy is nearly impervious to chemical solvents. Super glue and PVA glue may peel away or crack when you’re adding other harsh art media on top of them, e.g., mineral spirits, detergents (like flow-aid).
Two-part epoxy doesn’t have this problem and will resist many insults to your miniature base.
Do you have a really heavy and large model that you want to attach to your base? Try two-part epoxy for a solid foundation and bond.
For best results, plan out how much epoxy you will need for the amount of basing material you’re trying to glue. By planning out your need, you won’t mix up too much or too little epoxy.
Once you dispense the epoxy from the bottle, you can’t put it back and will have to use up whatever you’ve mixed-up.
Because of the more technical aspect of two-part epoxy and the potential for waste, I recommend first using super glue for most projects that require a strong bond.
But, if you’re looking for a very strong, durable bond for your bases, you can’t go wrong with two-part epoxies.
Other Useful Adhesive Options for Basing Miniatures
I’ve certainly missed other options for gluing your basing material to your miniatures. But, here are two other options that I’ve used that work well.
I didn’t place them in the main list above because they are a bit situational (as you’ll see below).
Hot Glue Gun
Hot glue guns are great for arts & crafts. I’ve suggested using hot glue guns as a tool in making DIY wargaming terrain.
A hot glue gun uses “glue sticks” that are melted inside the glue gun and expelled through a nozzle as a liquid. Because a glue gun uses melted glue sticks, it works really fast and gives you a lot of control over where the glue goes.
I recommend using a hot glue gun for attaching secondary basing materials, not as the main adhesive.
For example, you can use a hot glue gun to attach pebbles or plastic bits to a base. But, don’t use the hot glue gun to attach main structural basing material.
The solidified hot glue is too flexible and structurally inadequate for forming the main foundation of your model or miniature.
If you’re fine scale modeling, this means the hot glue gun works great for dioramas, but not for attaching the main model to the base.
You don’t need a fancy hot glue gun to do the job for attaching basing material to your models.
A low temperature hot glue gun will work really well. If you’re concerned about strength, you can always use any of the other glues to reinforce your bases.
Matte Varnish or Medium
You may already have varnish or mediums lying around that use to mix with your acrylics or to seal your models.
You can use matte varnishes and mediums as adhesives, too. They work mostly like PVA white glue. You can mix these media with water to thin them.
These mediums have all the advantages and disadvantages of white glues (i.e., easy-to-use, flexible, weaker bond, water-soluble etc). If you do use mediums, then remember that you can reinforce your bases with other glues.
A reason not to use matte medium or varnish media is that they are generally more expensive than dedicated glues/adhesives on a per volume basis.
UV Curable “Adhesives”
There are “adhesives” that cure and bond when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
With these adhesives, they are easy to apply with the supplied dispenser. The resin is also easy to work with and has an unlimited working time until exposed to the UV light.
I’ve used this resin to hold parts in place until I can add other glues (e.g., super glue, epoxy) to reinforce the bond.
From my experience, I don’t think UV curable resins are great for general basing because the cured resin can break under repeated stress. The cured resin doesn’t actually form a strong bond between a lot of different materials either.
UV curable resin adhesives are fairly expensive for what you get. I do not recommend using UV curable resin as the main glue/adhesive for basing models or miniatures.
For other general random household projects, or light-duty bonding, UV curable adhesives are great, because of their convenience.
I hope this brief guide for miniature basing glues was useful.
There are a lot of different ways to base your models, of course, and I probably missed a few options. I only showed some of the more popular and commercially available adhesives.
If you want to skip the DIY basing route, you can buy pre-made bases like these. Just add paint!
But, if you’re using default blank plastic bases and want to add scenery, then adding basing material can make all the difference in the final look of your models.