Something like glue can seem very insignificant when it comes to table tennis. It’s easy to think that all glues are the same, or perhaps that dedicated table tennis glue doesn’t even exist (I’ve heard this one before).
Well, let me be the first to tell you that table tennis glue certainly exists, and not all glues are the same. Some have become banned due to rule changes, and other solutions which could be mistaken for glue are also banned. So sit back, and let me explain the deal with table tennis glue.
The Different Types of Glue
Water-based Glue (Legal)
The main type of table tennis rubber glue is water-based. It became the standard type of glue in 2007 following the ITTFs speed glue ban.
Unlike speed glue, water-based glue is easy to use and does not contain harmful chemicals.
Self-Adhesive Sheets (Legal)
Self-adhesive sheets are the only other kind of ping pong paddle glue that is legal in table tennis. They are not very common but can be quite useful.
This type of glue both removes the need to spread the glue around the blade and the waiting period for it to dry. Instead, you simply adhere the sheet to the blade, cut around the blade’s perimeter, and peel off the remaining film on the other side. They are best used for gluing rubbers with no sponge.
Speed Glue (Illegal)
Before the 2007 speed glue ban, table tennis speed glue was very common. This was because it not only affixed rubbers to the blade but also enhanced their properties.
Speed glue seeps into the porous cells of the rubber’s sponge and causes them to expand. This results in increased elasticity which is a strong advantage for offensive players. However, the effect only lasts around 3-6 hours, upon which point you need a fresh coat of speed glue to enhance your rubbers once more.
The downfall of speed glue was brought about by its harmful chemicals — some of which are carcinogenic. Known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), these harmful chemicals are airborne at room temperature, meaning you can inhale them.
As such, ITTF switched to water-based glue, which is free of these harmful chemicals.
Table tennis boosters are another means of enhancing the properties of your rubbers. They work similarly to speed glue, however, boosters are not a type of glue. You boost first, and then apply glue to adhere your rubbers to the blade.
While VOC-free, boosters are still illegal under ITTF rules. Yet this doesn’t stop a lot of people from using boosters. The use of boosters is hard to detect, and most umpires do not check anyway.
Table Tennis Glue Buying Guide
Ensure the Glue is Legal
Your main priority when selecting your ping pong glue is ensuring that it is legal. Almost all glue nowadays is VOC-free water-based glue which falls within the ITTFs rules. In fact, you will struggle to find speed glue as it has been banned for such a long time. However, it is better to be safe than sorry, so double-check your desired glue is legal.
Glues for table tennis rubbers come in a variety of sizes, so it’s important you pick the right one for you. If you change your rubbers frequently or boost, opt for a larger container. If, on the other hand, you play casually and only change your rubber every 6 months to a year, opt for the smaller glue sizes.
Foam Sponges and Clip
While not necessary, including foam sponges and a clip are handy as they are one less component to purchase (this is how you spread the glue). Most table tennis bat glues come with a clip and around 6 or so foam pads, but it’s worth checking to be sure.
Nittaku Finezip 50 ML
Finezip is a water-based glue that is approved by ITTF for use in tournaments. The glue is VOC-free so that it won’t cause any dizziness or headaches. In fact, it received the highest safety ranking from Forester, so it’s a great choice of glue.
It comes in tubes of 50 ml. Nittaku estimates that this should cover approximately 12 rubber sheets which are plenty. A sponge is also included, so you won’t have to purchase one separately.
Nittaku recommends that you keep the glue between 5°C to 40°C (40 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.) This ensures that the glue lasts as long as possible.
REvolution 3 Odourless Glue
REvolution 3 is a water-based glue with VOC-free composition. It is an upgrade on the old REvolution 3 glue. Revolution has removed the old ammonia smell and produced a stronger bond.
The glue comes in 3 viscosities (normal, medium, and high). Normal is the most popular, it is the thickest and the least viscous.
When peeling off old rubber sheets, the glue sticks to the blade, not the rubber. This makes it one of the best glues for rubbers.
Unlike other glues, which come with small foam pads and a clip, REvolution 3 Odorless glue comes with two long foam pads.
As of the time of writing, this glue is only available in 100 ml quantities.
Butterfly Free Chack II
Free Chack II Glue is a new glue released by Butterly. It is the enhanced version glue of Free Chack. Featuring a new formula, it produces a stronger bond than Free Chack I.
The glue was designed for rubbers that feature Butterfly’s Spring Sponge and Springe Sponge X technology. Think Tenergy and Dignics. Of course, it works great on all rubbers, though.
Free Chack II is a very runny table tennis glue with an average drying time. It takes around 15 minutes to dry, and it’s easy to tell when it’s time to apply the rubbers as the glue turns from white to clear.
Also, the glue is fairly easy to remove from your rubbers and blade when you want to make a switch to your setup.
You can pick it up in various quantities: 20 ml, 100 ml, and 500 ml.
Butterfly Free Chack
Butterfly Free Chack is an excellent table tennis glue. It is free from any toxins or VOC substances and is made from 100% natural rubber.
As it is an older version of Free Chack II, it is a cheaper glue, but not by much. In all honesty, it is not that much different from the new version. It has a similar drying time, and once again, you wait for the glue to turn from white to clear before sticking it on your rubbers.
The original Free Chack glue comes in three sizes: 50 ml, 90 ml, and 500ml. All of which come with a clip and foam pads for glue application.
Donic Vario Clean Glue
Vario Clean is one of Donic’s most popular glues. Water-based and VOC-free, it is safe to use and ITTF-compliant.
As it stands, it is only available in 37 ml as the 90 ml version is currently out of stock.
Donic recommends just 5 minutes of drying time before sticking on your rubbers which is notably less time than other glues. This could make it a good option for impatient players!
Even with the small 37 ml bottle, you still get a clip and 5 foam pads.
JOOLA’s VOC-free glue is known as X-Glue. Like Donic Vario glue, it has a short drying time and is available in 37 ml bottles. You can also pick it up in larger 90 ml and 1 l bottles if you use glue more regularly.
The issue we have with this particular glue is that it doesn’t come with a plastic clip or foam applicators. Of course, you can always use something from around the house like a cloth so that you don’t have to purchase anything extra.
Tibhar Self-Adhesive Glue
As our last glue offering, we thought we had best give an option for those of you who want a self-adhesive glue sheet. Tibhar’s sheets were the best that we could find. They come as singles, so make sure you select your desired quantity.
Since the banning of speed glue in 2007, virtually all available glues for ping pong paddles are now water-based and VOC-free. When choosing your model of table tennis glue, ensuring that it is legal should be your primary focus. While each glue varies from brand to brand, they are largely the same. I don’t have a particular type of glue that I swear by. Instead, I usually choose whichever offers the best value, so with that in mind, my recommendation is REvolution 3 Odorless glue.
Not only is it remarkably cheap at less than $20 per 100 ml bottle, but also it doesn’t produce any funky smells, and it is very popular with buyers.
Which Glue Is Best for Table Tennis Rubbers?
In our opinion, Revolution 3 Odorless glue is the best table tennis glue. It is popular with players, has no nasty smell, and is well-priced.
Can You Glue Table Tennis Rubbers?
Yes, you have to glue table tennis rubbers to affix them to the blade. All rubbers are glued to their respective blades with table tennis glue barring cheap pre-assembled paddles which use super glue.
Does Rubber Cement Glue Rubbers?
We would not recommend using rubber cement as a substitute glue for table tennis rubbers. They contain hazardous VOCs, which make them illegal to use.
How Many Layers of Glue Do You Need?
You only need one layer of glue on the rubber and blade to create a strong bond. However, some players like to apply several coats to ensure that they don’t miss any areas.