If you’re a DIY’er, then chances are that at some point you’ve considered using epoxy resin to fix something.
Epoxy resin is a great way to fix things around your house, but it can be hard to figure out how much of the stuff you need and how best to use it.
In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything there is about epoxy resin so that next time something breaks in your home or office, you’ll have all the information necessary to fix it with ease.
Table of Contents
What is Resin?
Epoxy resin is a material that’s created by mixing two components together. This creates a chemical reaction that causes the epoxy to harden and become solid, which can be used as the glue or as a coating for other materials such as wood
The components of the epoxy are mixed in a 1:1 ratio, which means they’re combined in equal amounts. Different types of resin have different pot lives – how long it takes before the chemical process produces any noticeable changes – and demold times – how long it takes before the hardened resin can be removed from whatever it was used on.
Types of Epoxy Resin
There are many different kinds of epoxies available around the world, with each country having its own variations based on what they’re typically used for and how long they take to set.
Regardless of their country of origin, the most popular types of epoxy resin include:
Classic – this is a two-part epoxy with a fast pot life and demold time. An example of classic epoxy resin is J-B Weld, which has been around for decades and can be found at virtually any hardware store.
Rapid – these are one-part epoxies that set extremely quickly and have short demold times. They’re best used in applications where you need your final product to be finished as soon as possible.
Epoxy putty – these come as bars or liquids and dry into firm solids that can be sanded or drilled like wood. A popular type of epoxy putty is J-B Weld KwikWood, which hardens just like real wood.
Epoxy Adhesives – these are one-part adhesives used to bond two materials together. An example of an epoxy adhesive is Araldite, which can be used for crafting and repairing items such as jewelry or model cars.
Grout – these come in a variety of different forms and colors and dry into smooth finishes that don’t require any sanding. They’re most commonly used around the home to fill gaps on walls or between tiles.
Casting resin – these resins create firm yet flexible products that last over extended periods of time without losing their shape or texture. Casting resins ensure your final product won’t break over time.
What is Epoxy Resin Used for?
There are a lot of different uses for epoxies around the house, but they can be particularly useful in the following applications:
Fixing Things Around Your House – whether it’s fixing a chair or repairing a crack in your windshield, epoxy resin is one of the best ways to fix things around your home. Simply apply some resin and let it dry until you have a smooth finish that lasts.
Laminating Paper or Other Thin Materials – many people use epoxy resin as glue. It doesn’t dry transparent like most glues, which means it stands out on whatever material you’re laminating together. A popular example of this is when people laminate their business cards to give them a more professional finish.
Making Art Projects – epoxy resin is popular with hobbyists and professionals alike. It can be used to create sculptures and other types of art that would normally require expensive materials like silver, gold, or marble.
Filling Gaps – epoxies are extremely versatile. They can be used to fill gaps around the home, which might otherwise need an entire tube of caulk or a lot of time with sandpaper.
Curing Natural Materials – many natural materials have pores that trap air and prevent them from properly hardening. Epoxy resin can fill these pores so your final product won’t crack as easily over time.
How is Epoxy Resin Applied?
Epoxy resin comes in many different forms, but one way or another it’s going to have to be applied somehow. The basic steps you should follow when applying epoxy include:
Clean Up Surfaces – first, clean up any surfaces that you’re planning on working with. If necessary, clean them with alcohol or acetone to remove all remnants of dirt, dust, oil or grease.
Mix Resin – most epoxy resin products come as two separate liquids that you need to mix together before they can be applied. Once mixed, they can usually be poured, injected, sprayed or otherwise easily applied to your surface.
Apply Epoxy – now that you’ve mixed your epoxy resin together, make sure it doesn’t start setting prematurely by applying it quickly and evenly. Some resins have a demold time of several hours after which they’ll be stable enough to work with.
Cure Your Resin – if necessary, use a hair dryer to cure the resin faster so it sets within a few minutes instead of an hour. Once it’s set, you can sand and drill your resin just like wood for a smooth finish.
What Should I Consider When Buying Resin?
There are a number of different things you should consider when buying resin, including:
How Fast Does It Set? – some resins set in as little as ten minutes while others can take up to a few hours. Make sure you account for this time before starting your project.
What Type of Resin Do You Need? – epoxy resin comes in many forms including adhesives, putties and grouts. Once again, make sure you get the right kind of resin for your project.
Am I Buying Enough Epoxy? – the last thing you want is to run out half-way through your project. Make sure to estimate how much epoxy you’ll need beforehand so everything goes smoothly.
Where Can I Find It? – as mentioned, epoxy resin can be found at virtually any home improvement store like Home Depot. Online retailers like Amazon and eBay also offer a wide range of resin for sale.
Remember: Epoxy is one of the strongest types of resin on the market today. It’s perfect for those looking to make high-strength items that will last a lifetime without breaking or deforming. Once you’ve applied it, you should be able to sand and drill your resin just like wood giving it a very smooth finish that won’t even need varnish. Best of all, its versatility means you’ll never run out of different things to do with it around the house.
Which Resin Perfect for My Project?
Low-viscosity Epoxy Resins / Casting Resins
These resins are designed for making molds and casting parts. They’re best for making small projects like jewelry or decorative objects at home.
High-Viscosity Epoxy Resin / General-Purpose
These resins are better suited to general DIY projects like filling gaps, toughening surfaces or creating a smooth finish over wood.
Special purpose epoxy resin (UV cure)
These epoxies have a UV inhibitor that causes them to harden under exposure to ultraviolet light. As a result, they can be used as photo-curable adhesives, glues and coatings in applications where sunlight is readily available.
Waterproof Epoxy Resin
If you’ve got a project that’s going to get wet from time to time, you should consider waterproofing your resin as the first line of defense. Once cured, these resins will protect your project from moisture and prevent it from being corroded or degraded by water over time.
High-performance epoxy resin
Finally, high-performance epoxy resins are even stronger than regular epoxies. They’re designed to be used in areas where high loads and extreme forces need to be resisted such as the corners of fiberglass vessels or where large amounts of weight have to be distributed. As a result, they’re perfect for applications like making strong molds that won’t break under stress or creating steel-reinforced concrete that can withstand cannon strikes without cracking.
Information about Different Viscosities
High viscosity resins are best suited to making single-layer castings since they adhere strongly to the surface. This makes them especially well-suited to applications where a strong bond between layers is needed, like producing plastic models quickly or making jewelry at home.
Low viscosity epoxy resin works better for multilayer casts because its thinner consistency allows it to penetrate into narrow gaps more easily. As a result, it can be used for complex projects that require multiple coats without leaving any noticeable seams behind.
As always, you should follow the instructions on your pack of epoxy very closely. Low viscosity resin can typically be mixed in equal amounts by weight while high viscosity resin will need up to 3x weight.
A general-purpose resin can be used in any application where a high-strength bond is needed. They’re the largest group of epoxy resins, making them perfect for everything from DIY projects at home to large industrial ones.
Once again, be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to mixing time. It varies across different types of epoxy so make sure you have all the components ready before you start stirring.
As with other types of resin, you should only work with your epoxy resin for about 10 minutes after it’s been mixed together. After that, it’ll begin curing and become unusable. Working time also depends on the viscosity of the resin.
After your epoxy has been mixed, it’ll take about 24 hours to fully cure and reach its maximum strength. Keep this in mind when working on larger projects as you’ll need to let the epoxy harden before moving on to other stages.
The Properties of Epoxy Resin
Epoxy resin is a thermosetting plastic that’s similar to polyester in terms of both its chemical composition and how it cures.
Epoxy resins are the strongest type of cast you’ll be able to make at home, easily outperforming other types like polyurethane or styrene. They can also be used for a huge variety of projects.
As an epoxy resin, this kind of cast starts off very hard but loses a little bit of its toughness over time. As a result, It’s best suited to applications where the core will never come into contact with surfaces that could scratch it. Examples include decorative objects or model kits that you’ll display on shelves instead of using them.
As with most other types of resin , epoxy resins are opaque. This makes them perfect for making casts that need to be painted. Since it’s so tough, you can also use low-quality brushes that would warp or snap under normal circumstances without any fear of damaging your mold.
This kind of cast is much less flexible than others like polyurethane because it cures into a smooth plastic surface instead of the rubbery one associated with silicone. As a result, It’s not suitable for applications where you’ll need rubber elements like gaskets or hoses.
Epoxy resins are formaldehyde-free and contain no solvents. The FDA even includes them on its list of materials safe for food contact applications. This makes them an excellent choice if you’ll be using your cast around food or other items that come into direct contact with people.
As one of the tougher types of resin, epoxy resins have a lifespan measured in decades. They’re perfect for making large decorative objects that will stay on display long-term without any corrosion.
Epoxy resins are made from non-toxic ingredients so they have no negative impact on the environment. As a result, It’s perfectly fine to dump leftover resin down the drain. Most recycling centers also accept unwanted epoxy resin cast as well.
The Advantages of Epoxy Resin
The gap between this kind of cast and the other types on our list is smaller than you might expect. All of them have their strengths but epoxy resin edges out the others in certain situations. That makes it a valuable addition to any shop that does its own casting.
As one of the toughest types of resin, epoxy resins are perfect for making projects that will last decades without degradation. They’re also much tougher than polyurethane or styrene so they can handle heavyweight with ease.
Epoxy resin is not waterproof on its own but it forms an excellent barrier when combined with fiberglass cloth. This allows it to be used in applications where water resistance is key like hot tubs, boats, or other places where water is always present.
Layers & Complexity
One of the biggest benefits of epoxy resins is their ability to support multiple layers and complex designs. The smooth surface they form after curing makes it easy to create sharp corners and straight edges without any complicated sculpting work.
The Disadvantages of Epoxy Resin
There isn’t much that can go wrong with this kind of cast but there are a few things you should keep in mind when working with epoxy resins: They’re more expensive than polyurethane resin. Expect to pay around $30 per pound compared to only $20 for styrene or $14 for polyurethane. This also means that they’ll consume more material in the long run so you need to factor that into your budget.
Epoxy resin takes much longer to set than polyurethane. This means it’s not well-suited for applications where you need a quick turnaround like prototyping. It also creates more waste since mixing small batches will leave about 25% of unused resin in the cup or mixing container. Epoxy resin is less workable than other kinds of cast because its viscosity increases over time. This makes it harder to mix and pour but there are ways around this problem.
Advanced Techniques & Considerations
Epoxy resin is one of the most versatile types of casting available but there are some advanced techniques that you should keep in mind when working with it: This type of resin tends to create bubbles during its mixing process. These bubbles rise quickly to the surface during curing so most people recommend adding a small amount of surfactant along with the pigment. This creates tiny vortexes that keep bubbles from rising to the surface so they can be easily removed during post-curing.
You’ll also need to consider how your epoxy resin will cure. There are two common methods: Heat curing is best for large batches since it helps release trapped air bubbles and form a smooth finish over larger areas. Room temperature curing is better for smaller parts since it helps prevent deformation caused by sudden changes in heat or cold.
Epoxy resin is one of the most advanced types of cast available but fortunately, It’s not nearly as complicated as you might think. All it takes to start working with this type resin is an understanding of its strengths and weaknesses. Once you know how it works, you can use epoxy resin to create incredibly detailed sets for your dioramas, vignettes, or other projects that require strength and durability.
Frequently Asked Questions About Epoxy Resin
Are Epoxy Resins Toxic or Dangerous?
Some people are concerned about the health risks associated with epoxy resins but, honestly, they’re far less toxic than you might think. The biggest concern is probably allergies to the resin itself or other materials used during mixing. Fortunately, every major resin manufacturer lists their products’ ingredients on their websites so it’s easy to look up what your specific resin contains.
How can Epoxy Resin be Colored?
Epoxy resin is the only type of cast that doesn’t require a colored pigment to achieve its final color. This makes it especially useful for applications where you need a clear surface like goblets, glassware, or sculptures.
All you have to do is add opaque pigments during mixing so they become evenly dispersed throughout the resin. These pigments are available in every major brand so you can use exactly the same kind of pigment no matter what manufacturer your epoxy comes from.
Which Colors are Suitable for Coloring Epoxy Resin?
You have a lot of freedom when color your epoxy resin which makes this kind of cast very flexible. Since you can achieve any color with opaque pigments, the choice is ultimately up to you.
The only limit here will be availability since some colors are easier to find than others. Most companies offer opaque pigments in reds, blues, yellows, white, black, browns, and grays so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get exactly what you need.
One thing worth mentioning is that many people choose green or another dark shade for their epoxy resin parts because these colors help hide minor defects or imperfections in the final piece. This gives it an advantage over other kinds of cast since every part looks like its own unique piece of glassware.
Which Epoxy Resins are the Strongest?
Epoxy resin is one of the strongest cast types available and most brands will advertise that fact. While every brand’s product has its own strengths and weaknesses, you can expect all epoxy resins to be stronger than other types of cast like polyurethane or plaster.
However, don’t take this as a sign that epoxy resin is unbreakable because it isn’t. Any type of cast will break if it’s dropped on a hard surface or stressed beyond its limits so always take proper precautions when working with this kind of material.
Epoxy resin parts are often very strong but they’re not completely indestructible which means using caution is always a good idea. Always pay attention to how much weight your part can support before you start placing objects on top of it.
Can Wood be Easily Sealed with Epoxy Resin?
Yes. Since wood is porous, it’s subject to swelling when exposed to moisture. By sealing your wooden pieces with epoxy resin, you can ensure that the wood will stay in perfect condition over time and prevent unwanted warping or deformation.
Can Epoxy Resin be Used in Cold Environments?
Absolutely. As long as you keep the resin at a stable temperature between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (12-26 Celsius), it should work perfectly well in cold environments. In fact, room temperature curing is better for smaller parts since sudden changes in heat or cold might cause the material to become slightly warped due to thermal expansion.
Do I Need a Vacuum Chamber When Working with Epoxy Resin?
In most cases, you won’t need a vacuum chamber to work with epoxy resin. However, if your application requires the part to be totally airtight or you’re using it in an environment where dirt particles might get trapped inside it (for example, condensation), then you’ll need to seal it in some kind of container instead.
Fortunately, many epoxy resin companies sell special vacuum bags that they guarantee will create an airtight seal around your part. These are incredibly affordable for what they offer and make working with epoxy resins much easier.
Of course, even this isn’t always necessary since most generic plastic containers can be used without any problems at all. A simple sandwich bag will usually do the trick even though it’s not guaranteed to produce perfect results every time.
How can Epoxy Resin be Removed from Unwanted Areas?
Epoxy resin can be removed from unwanted areas by applying a solvent like acetone or methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) on that area and then gently rubbing it with a paper towel. This process usually takes a lot of time but the results are worth it since you won’t have to do any sanding afterward.
However, make sure to check for compatibility before doing this since some materials might react badly if they come into contact with these solvents. In most cases, acetone or MEK is safe to use as long as you’re not going to use the epoxy resin part in an environment where contact with these chemicals might prove fatal.
When Should I Apply Slow Hardener?
Slow hardener should only be used when you’re working with particularly large parts that require more than 120 minutes of curing time. Fast hardener will set in under 5-10 minutes so it’s usually the preferred option if your part is small enough to fit inside a pressure pot.
However, epoxy resin manufacturers recommend adding some slow hardener to your mix even when working with smaller pieces because this reduces the amount of bubbles that form on the surface during the setting process. Some brands like Devcon actually use their slow catalyst for 100% of their products.
Do I Need to Use Promoter When Working with Epoxy Resin?
Many epoxy resin brands include promoter in their product which acts as an accelerator that speeds up the setting process by 10-20%. However, even without promoter, the epoxy resin will still set in under 5-10 minutes as long as you’re working with a small enough part.
In most cases, it’s only necessary to use promoter when you’re dealing with larger objects that require more time to cure or if you wish to reduce the amount of bubbles that form on the surface. In fact, some parts might end up feeling slightly tacky since bubble removal isn’t always 100% effective.
Is Food Grade Epoxy Resin Available?
Yes, food-grade epoxy resin is available but it’s usually much more expensive than regular products. Food-approved resins are generally intended for use in laboratory experiments rather than actual food preparation since the FDA doesn’t actually allow the use of this material in commercial kitchens.
Why Does Epoxy Resin Harden so Fast?
Epoxy resin hardens fast because its liquid mixture begins to turn into a gel-like substance when mixed with catalysts like hardeners. This causes the liquid resin to thicken inconsistency and makes it solidify much faster than other materials like silicone or putty since these don’t begin to “gel” until much later during the mixing process.
Are Epoxy Resin Coatings Waterproof?
Epoxy resin coatings are actually waterproof but they’re not resistant to the effects of extreme temperatures or UV rays. If these areas will be exposed to harsh climatic conditions then other stronger clear coating finishes like polyurethane should be used instead since epoxy resin can peel off when faced with stress.