Mechanical and physical characterization of natural and synthetic consolidants

Johannes A. Poulis*, Yasmine Mosleh, Elsa Cansell, Dafne Cimino, Rebecca Ploeger, E. René de la Rie, Christopher W. McGlinchey, Kate Seymour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The mechanical behavior of adhesives is strongly influenced by a large number of variables, relating to a complex interaction of mechanical-physical-chemical factors, such as its loading direction (shear, peel), the temperature and the environmental relative humidity (RH). These variables can have a large influence on the durability of restored art objects where thermoplastic adhesives have been used as a consolidant. This study aims to characterise the mechanical and physical behavior of some adhesives commonly used polymers by conservators as consolidants to restore cultural objects such as canvas paintings or historic wooden furniture. Twelve commercially available natural and synthetic adhesive materials were tested. The influence of RH at room temperature on the mechanical and physical properties of the adhesives was investigated. Shear and peel experiments were performed on adhesively bonded wood and canvas coupon to establish mechanical characterisation. The physical properties of the adhesives were determined by performing moisture adsorption measurements and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). The results of this study demonstrate that synthetic adhesive products are able to resist higher shear and peel loads than natural types. Moreover, the influence of important changes in RH on the mechanical properties of the adhesives was demonstrated. Reflecting on the combined data derived from shear and peel tests with the adhesive's sensitivity to moisture will help conservators to select the most suitable adhesives for their applications to achieve optimal durability and the best mechanical performance in versatile environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103015
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Adhesive
  • Art conservation
  • DSC
  • Humidity
  • Lap shear
  • T-peel


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