Consider the following shoe:

enter image description here

It has some leather that is wrapped around some cork, and held in place by glue and nail.

My question is in a very similar scenario: suppose that we replace that cork by rubber, then:

Question. How would we be able to wrap leather around it securely for the purpose of a shoe? Which type of glue to use to make the leather stick to the rubber?

There are various types of rubber, such as natural rubber, or EPDM. I prefer natural rubber or EPDM. If your answer is specific to a given kind of rubber, kindly state which rubber you refer to.

My problem is that I found some advice saying that it is tricky to glue things to rubber, while finding products marketed for rubber. So I thought that people with more hands on experience can go beyond manufacturers' claims and share what actually works.

  • There are adhesives commonly used for shoes because they aggressively bond to the various matierials used in shoes (leather, fabric, rubber, etc.), remain flexible, and don't deteriorate with age, broad temperature range, water, etc. Barge is commonly used commercially. Various similar product recommendations can be found at online links like glueinsider.com/shoe-glue. Are you looking for something beyond what a basic search would reveal?
    – fixer1234
    Jul 25, 2022 at 16:10
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    @fixer1234 - My problem is that I found some saying that it is tricky to glue things to rubber, while finding products marketed for rubber. So I thought that people with more hands on experience can go beyond manufacturers' claims and share what actually works.
    – caveman
    Jul 25, 2022 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


Shoes are demanding in terms of adhesive requirements. It often involves bonding different materials to each other, including porous materials like leather or fabric to rubber or plastic, which can be hard to bond to. The bond needs to survive continuous flexing, being exposed to high and low temperatures, getting wet with water (or hydrocarbons like gasoline at a filling station), and have a life approaching that of the shoe.

Fortunately, these requirements have been around for a long time, and solutions have been figured out and perfected. There's a good assortment of proven adhesives, some designed specifically for this purpose, that are routinely used to manufacture or repair shoes, including bonding rubber to leather.

Some of what's sold for this purpose are variations on polyurethane glue (like Gorilla Glue), or cyanoacrylate glues (superglue). But the most effective, and what shoe manufacturers and repairers use, are mostly variations of a flexible, rubbery material, like Neoprene, in a solvent.

A very common one used in the industry is Barge Cement. It's sold to professionals/manufacturers by the gallon or drum, but you can find it in small containers at retailers. Others go by names like Shoe Goo, Shoe Fix, Boot Fix, and similar variations on the theme. There are a few general purpose adhesives with a similar formulation (often called "construction adhesives" because of the high bond strength on a variety of materials), like E6000. This link has a list of good adhesives in consumer-sized packaging.

You can find reviews of adhesives for this purpose online. The examples mentioned above are typically at the top of those reviews. I tend to have E6000 on hand because it is generally very good at bonding a wide variety of stuff, and have used it to reglue rubber soles to the leather (these repairs have held up for several years so far and show no signs of deterioration).

  • Is that Barge Cement, or Cenent as written? Does it matter which solvent is used for neoprene? I may not find the brand Barge Cement where I live cheaply, but may find other brands. I wonder if I can save time by looking for specific chemicals in order to try less candidates.
    – caveman
    Jul 26, 2022 at 2:35
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    @caveman, good catch on the typo. This type of adhesive can use different kinds of rubber in their formulation, but they generally behave similarly. There is some variation in the solvent mix used, somewhat dependent on the particular rubber, desired drying time, etc. Theoretically, the different formulations could do a little better or worse, but I think the top products all do a good job. Trying to pick by formulation probably wouldn't be useful. But if you don't have ready access to these choices, you could compare the MSDS for what you have access to (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Jul 26, 2022 at 2:59
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    and maybe get an idea of whether they're similar. You could also compare reviews to get an idea on effectiveness. None of these are particularly cheap, especially in consumer-size packaging. I can't tell where you're located, but in the US, you can generally find most of them on Amazon, and at least a few of the choices at the big hardware chains, and probably big retailers like Walmart. If you have a local shop that does shoe repair, ask them what adhesive they use.
    – fixer1234
    Jul 26, 2022 at 2:59
  • Do you have experience with or can you make a good guess as to the effectiveness of either for fixing a rubber soul that has torn? I have a pair of Meindl hiking boots, that were already 'repaired' once by a shoemaker, but quickly came apart again.
    – Joachim
    Jul 26, 2022 at 11:05
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    @Joachim, is the problem that the intact sole separated from the leather, or the sole split and they tried to glue the broken edges together? Where is the tear located (bottom in a high-flex area, side edge, etc.; i.e., what's the nature of the stress on the repair)? How old/worn is the sole (how much fatigue has the material experienced; did the previous repair come apart or did the sole split again at an adjacent spot)? Any chance you could add an image in a comment?
    – fixer1234
    Jul 26, 2022 at 16:44

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