Ceramic is a versatile item that can be found in quite a few places around the house – from the tiles that you walk on to the cup that holds your deliciously aromatic afternoon tea. Pieces made of ceramic are vintage and timeless, and of course, classic.
And ceramic items are not just expensive; they also hold a lot of memories. Perhaps the ceramic dinner set you have was a wedding gift to your grandma, which has been passed down to you.
That is why breaking ceramic items can be a heartbreaking experience. In this article, you will find out how to glue ceramic of different kinds. So, you do not have to fret over broken ceramic anymore – it is still salvageable.
Which Adhesive to Use
You have options to choose from when repairing ceramic, but they depend on the type of ceramic you are working with. If you have fine porous ceramic such as dishes, plates, pottery, etc., then your best bet is cyanoacrylate family super glues or epoxies.
This kind of glue provides a strong bond that is also capable of filling voids on porous ceramic. Typically, epoxies come as a set of two, one of which is a resin, and the other is a hardener. To use it, you have to mix the two.
While all epoxies use this two-step mechanism, some brands focus on mending broken items, while some are better at filling in voids. Check the labels when buying them and get the former if you want to join broken ceramic pieces; get the latter if you want to fill in shallow cracks or chips.
Compared to superglue, epoxy requires much longer to dry. They are perfect for filling in noticeably thicker lines. A positive is that they are better at resisting temperature and pressure compared to super glue.
Common household super glues are from the cyanoacrylate family. They are easier to apply because they air-dry super-fast compared to epoxy glue. Also, there is no mixing involved.
However, you will not get any filling actions from superglues; they cannot fill in gaps. So, to repair non-porous lightweight ceramics, if you have all the existing pieces and just need to make a bond on thin areas, super glue works the best.
Superglue does offer strong resistance to pulling, but they are less durable than epoxies if they are exposed to pressure or stress from any other angle.
How to Fix Ceramic Vases Using Epoxy
Now, we will have a detailed look at how you can fix your broken ceramic items using epoxy. We have focused on epoxy because it requires more attention to detail. If you are using super glue, you can still use some of these steps to perfect your repair job. So, do read them.
Things You Will Need
- Clear epoxy glue
- Popsicle Stick
- Masking Tape
- Mild dishwashing soap or acetone (for cleaning)
- Color (for decorating)
- Modeling clay
- Scraping knife or razor blade
- Small wooden skewer, paperclip, or pin (for mixing)
- Cold glaze
- A piece of wood or a paper pad
- A large box of sand/rice (to hold the pieces)
Step 1: Planning & Preparing the Ceramic Pieces
Start by gathering all the pieces of the broken item you could find. To ensure the best bond possible between the epoxy and the ceramic, you must thoroughly clean all the pieces.
For cleaning, you can use a mixture of water and dishwashing soap. You can also use any solvents, like acetone. Acetone is the primary ingredient in nail polish remover, so you can even use that in a pinch.
Wash the pieces well – wear a glove to protect your hands when doing so – and let them dry thoroughly. Make sure there is no soap residue. If you are using a solvent, soak a cotton ball or a piece of cloth with it and wipe the surfaces down.
Step 2: Dry Fitting
Once the pieces are fully dry, lay them out on a surface. Try to dry-fit the pieces as closely as you can get them to be. This way, you will have a good idea of what goes where. Line the pieces up, from large to small.
Numbering some pieces with tape is helpful in identifying them. You can also take a picture of them when dry fitted, to refer to later.
Step 3: Getting the Epoxy Ready
Now, you have to mix your epoxy. When shopping for epoxy, choose a 5-minute epoxy because it dries slower.
Follow the instructions provided with the epoxy and mix the two parts well with a small wooden skewer. Do not mix the entire batch at once. Mix enough to cover two to three pieces, and keep mixing new batches as you go.
Step 4: Applying the Glue
Use a popsicle stick to apply even layers of epoxy to join the broken ceramic pieces. And use the box of rice or sand at this stage to keep the ceramic pieces in a stable position.
You may also use PVC pebbles. Just get whatever is the most convenient to you. And whatever you choose, just ensure that you have enough.
Apply a thin layer of epoxy on one side of a broken edge of a ceramic piece, and then quickly join it with its neighboring broken piece. Apply light pressure and keep it that way for a minute or two, giving the pieces time to bond.
Do not worry about any excess epoxy squeezing out of the joint; they can be cleaned with a razor blade or a scraping knife after drying. Then, leave the pieces on the rice to dry fully.
Step 5: Repeating the Process (Optional)
If you require joining more than two pieces, then allow each bond to dry fully before you add the next piece. Refer to the instructions of the epoxy for drying time. Use the picture you had taken earlier and the numbers as guides and join all of the pieces one by one.
Step 6: Curing & Filling
After all the pieces are attached, you can now use clay for curing. Even though all of the pieces are joined now, some brutally broken areas might still require additional support to stay one piece. This is where clay comes in. You can use tape or modeling clay for reinforcement.
Also, some little spots might remain empty and need filling. You can use clay for this job, too. Be careful to choose a filling material that can be sanded down and painted. The filler material also should not expand or shrink when you are curing it.
Clay will help add reinforcement and stop the piece you are so carefully repairing from breaking again. Leave the clayed item for about an hour to cure completely.
Step 7: Sanding
This is where you get rid of excess epoxy sticking out from the joints and uneven clay. There is a high chance that you will have the former, so this step is not optional.
Use a scraping knife or a razor blade and gently sand the excess epoxy. Be careful when doing it, as you do not want to scratch the ceramic. Also, protect yourself with gloves and eye protection.
If the clay is uneven in any way, sand it down until it is smooth.
Step 8: Examining
Now, you should be looking for any flaws that sneakily remained. Carefully examine all the cracks thoroughly to see if there are any parts that need fixing. You should be looking for squeezed out epoxy, gaps in the ceramic, and uneven clay.
If you find anything, follow the previous steps to get it fixed. Once you are fully confident in the piece you have just repaired, move on to the next step.
Step 9: Adding Final Touches (Optional)
This step is meant for the perfectionists among you. Looking at the fine lines in your repaired ceramic piece might bother you. If that is the case, you can simply paint over them to hide them.
Color-matching acrylic paints to ceramic designs might be a little difficult and time-consuming, particularly if it contains designs in multiple colors.
To achieve perfection, you need to have some knowledge of color theory. You can also find tutorials that focus on mixing and color-matching acrylic paints.
Once you are done painting, add a cold glaze as the final step. It will protect the piece from excessive moisture. Epoxy is not food-safe or waterproof. And exposure to moisture will eventually weaken the joints you have made. So, this is a must.
Step 10: Cleaning Up
By now, your workspace must be a mess, with paint splatters and dried-up clay & epoxy glue. Do not worry; you can clean all of that away easily.
Use either denature, acetone, or alcohol to wipe off all the debris on your workstation. And if some epoxy glue is too stubborn, use a razor blade and scrape it off.
Remember to be careful, as you don’t want to get hurt or damage the work surface.
By following our steps on how to glue ceramic, you can repair any broken ceramic item with ease. It might not be 100% of the original product, which may be upsetting if it’s a family heirloom.
But look at it this way – you have added your own touch to something that already holds a lot of emotional value. How cool is that?
So, don’t be disheartened. Go ahead and celebrate the perfect repair job you just did.