This is the adhesive I use to glue almost all of my garden art projects when I want them to have permanent bonds that endure both cold Canadian winters and hot summers.
I get a lot of emails from people having trouble making the flat marbles or other decorations on their garden art projects stick or adhere, so I’ve written up this page with my best tips and trouble-shooting information.
Be Sure You Are Using the Right Product
I use GE Silicone II sealant for most of my garden art projects. It is called ‘sealant’ but for my projects it works as an adhesive for glass, wood, and metal.
Here’s what to look for when buying the adhesive:
- GE Silicone II
- Waterproof (but not for use under water or in bird baths)
- Outdoor use
- Often marketed for gutters or flashing
- Check the Use By date, read the product label, store it as recommeneded (no extreme temperatures), and follow the user instructions.
- Keep in mind that it is permanent. You cannot remove it once it has dried, and you cannot apply more adhesive to add anything on top of it once it has dried. So work thoughtfully.
- It is sold in home improvement stores in the caulking section. You can buy it in a tube or a cartridge that uses a caulking gun. The cartridges are about half the cost of the tubes.
- I make garden art items that I leave outside, year-round, through the Canadian summer heat and winter wet and cold. I do not want to have to bring them indoors for half the year so I like a product that forms a strong, long-lasting bond.
- While there are other products that may work as well, I recommend this specific one because it always works for me.
- If you’re new to making garden art projects like garden balls , totems, garden treasure jars, and dish flowers, these tips should help you succeed. They are all easy projects but do require the right product and technique provided in the tips here as well as the project instructions on this site.
- I do not receive any compensation from GE for recommending this product – I just really like how it works – but the product links here are to my Amazon affiliates account.
- You have to willing to experiment and find what works best in your climate. If you have something you like better, use it.
Health and Safety Considerations
- Before using any product, read the product label and follow the manufacturer’s health and safety guidelines.
- Most products like this one require working in a well-ventilated area.
- Know ahead of time how to clean up any leftover product, and how to remove it from your skin or eyes.
- If making a garden art project with children, only adults should handle the silicone sealant.
- As mentioned, GE Silicone II forms a permanent bond as soon as it dries and you cannot remove it so work thoughtfully-there’s no turning back.
Tips to Be Sure the Adhesive Sticks
- Use the right product. I am a fan of GE Silicone II sealant for most outdoor garden art projects.
- Make sure the product is fresh (check the Use By date on the container).
- Ensure that the product has not been stored in a hot or cold area. If it’s runny when you apply it, it’s not good and will not work.
- Make sure the surface of the globe or jar (or whatever you’re using as a base) is clean, dry, and grease-free.
- Apply the silicone sealant according to the project instructions. For most projects such as garden art balls and totems, apply it at least 1/4-inch thick.
Press the flat marbles into the silicone sealant and allow it to smoosh around them. It will fill in the areas between the marbles appearing like an opaque grout. As it dries, it grabs the marbles, holding them in place. This tutorial shows how to make a decorative garden art ball.
- Make use of gravity. If your marbles are sliding off while you’re working, you may be working against gravity. Start at the lowest part of the base, applying one row at a time. The next row will sit on the one below and the marbles won’t shift while the silicone sealant is drying.
Read the label carefully before you buy! There are so many different types of sealants and caulking….
Information on the GE II Silicone Sealant Product Label
- 3-hour rain-ready and sun/freeze proof for use in gutter and flashing installations and repairs, that also provides mold-free product protection.
- Once cured (after 24 hours), is sun/freeze proof, meaning it won’t crack or crumble even when exposed to harsh weather such as extreme heat or freezing temperatures.
- Adheres to aluminum, stainless steel, wood, masonary, brick, concrete, painted surfaces, vinyl and plastic.
- Remove dirt, grease, and moisture before applying.
- Allow at least 3 hours before exposing caulk to water.
- Not for use below the water line (i.e. not to be submerged in water ongoing).
- Application temperature: 5C to 37C
- Service temperature: -51C to 204F
- Tack-free: 30 minutes
- Water exposure: 3 hours
- Full cure: 24 hours
- Paint over time: non-paintable
- Clean up (while wet only): mineral spirits
Frequently Asked Questions
My silicone sealant says ‘clear’ on the label but it’s not clear – is something wrong?
- No, you are correct. It does not dry clear, but instead has an opaque quality. If you want something that will truly dry clear, you may want to try other products. I don’t have any to recommend that I like. Plus, I don’t mind that the sealant is somewhat visible.
I can’t complete the project all at once. Can I pause and finish later?
- Yes, BUT—first, make use of any adhesive you have already applied (add your marbles). GE Silicone II is permanent: once it dries, you cannot remove it, you cannot add more adhesive on top of it (it will not stick), and it is nearly impossible to peel off. This is why I advise working in small sections: apply some adhesive, attach the marbles, do the next section. It works so nicely for garden art projects because it is permanent but this also means you have no second chances.
My marbles are sliding off the globe! My marbles fell off!
I get emails asking for help with adhesive problems and it usually comes down to one of the factors listed (above) in Tips To Be Sure The Adhesive Sticks.
Are there any other products I can try?
- I have received emails saying E6000 works very nicely for some people and not for others. I know others like to use DAP. It may come down to climate. People in really humid areas like Florida have a hard time keeping whatever product they use from becoming too warm. When adhesives and sealants get too warm, they separate into a gel-like liquid and that does not work properly.
- I have not had any problems with GE Silicone II here in Canada where we have cold winters and humid summers.