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The art of using resin to decorate or coat one’s furniture has become a trend across the globe. More and more people around the world are looking to learn how to use epoxy resin for their own DIY projects. Here, you will be able to learn the ins and outs of different resins so that you can achieve the best outcome for your design project.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Resin?
- 2 What is Resin Used For?
- 3 What to Consider When Buying Epoxy Resins
- 4 Which Resin Epoxy is Best for Your Project?
- 5 What You Should Know About Resin Viscosities
- 6 Characteristics of Epoxy Resin
- 7 Is Epoxy Resin Considered Toxic?
- 8 How to Color Your Clear Epoxy Resin
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions About Using Epoxy Resins
- 9.1 Can You Seal Wood with Resin Epoxy?
- 9.2 How Can I Remove Resin from Certain Sections?
- 9.3 Do You Get Food-Grade Resin?
- 9.4 What is Resin Referring to?
- 9.5 Can You Further Process Resin That Has Already Been Cured?
- 9.6 Are Coatings Made of Resin Waterproof?
- 9.7 What Does the Term “Pot Life” Mean?
- 9.8 How Can I Prevent Bubbles From Forming in my Resin?
What is Resin?
When considering an epoxy definition, it is helpful to note the term itself comes from the compound known as epoxide. Epoxides are known for their glue-like properties, as resin epoxies are often used as strong adhesives or coatings.
When a liquid resin is mixed together with an appropriate hardener material, a chemical reaction will take place. This chemical process occurs when the 2-part epoxy resin components have been mixed, which then radiates heat until the liquid has been cured into a solid state.
Typically, there is a 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 ratio when mixing the resin and the hardener. Thus, a simpler epoxy definition may refer to a compound or material that is made by mixing two complementary components together.
Properties of Epoxy Resin to Look Out for in Different Brands
There is a wide variety of different kinds of resin, each of which possess their own set of properties that may be suitable for a range of applications and projects. Each type of resin will differ according to how long it takes to cure, its layer thickness, heat resistance, as well as the strength of the finished product. These characteristics should be considered when trying to make a decision as to which resin will work best for your particular project. The main properties of resin that may vary depending on the product are:
- Viscosity (fluidity)
- Maximum layer thickness for each cast
- Length of the curing process
- Adhesiveness on different types of material
- The durability of the finished product
It is important to have a good understanding of how various types of resin may differ so that you can ensure that you have the suitable tools and materials for your project.
What is Resin Used For?
Those wanting to learn how to use epoxy resin will be pleased to discover that this material is one of the most versatile in terms of its uses. This resin can be used for commercial and industrial purposes, or it can be used for any number of crafty DIY projects. The following list of uses for resin is by no means exhaustive, as there are many other ways to use this multifaceted material:
- Sealing soil for the construction of buildings.
- Renovating old buildings.
- Fixing stone carpets or walkways.
- UV resin can be used for quick fixes and repairs.
- Resin can also be used to fix or glue pieces together.
- Sealing countertops and workspaces in the kitchen to prevent cuts.
- Using pieces of wood and resin to create cutting boards.
- Jewelry pieces can be made out of or cast in resin.
- Art pieces and decorative objects such as statues, figurines, models and molds.
- Long-lasting resin furniture.
- Decorative resin floors.
- Using resin as a waterproof sealant, such as for garage floors.
- Construction of aquariums and terrariums.
- Resin as the topcoat when building a boat.
- Homemade kiteboards or surfboards.
What to Consider When Buying Epoxy Resins
Many of the people interested in learning how to use epoxy resin may become deterred when discovered the high cost of the products and materials needed. This resin can be purchased from most specialists and craft stores, although a wider variety of products and resources may be found online on the Internet.
It is the formulation of the product as well as its overall strength and durability that may attribute to the high cost of resin. However, this particular product is one worth splurging on. It may be tempting to opt for cheaper resins instead, but these are very often of a much lower quality, which can become apparent in the finished product.
Some cheaper products may also contain toxic solvents that are released during the curing process, which can be dangerous to one’s health. Other low-quality products are not completely transparent, as should be the case with clear epoxy resin, and will instead appear to be somewhat yellowish in color.
Tip: If you are planning on using resin epoxies for a DIY project, it is best to spend more on products of the highest quality, as this is how you can ensure successful results for your finished piece.
Which Resin Epoxy is Best for Your Project?
Each individual epoxy mixture has its own set of properties, making it imperative that users read through any product-specific instructions before beginning their project. Different projects will require different types of resin, so it is important to be aware of what resin characteristics will best suit your idea. Casting resins and laminating resins differ greatly in terms of their viscosity, which refers to how well the liquid is able to flow into the cast.
Casting Resins (Low Viscosity)
Resins of a low viscosity refer to the liquid being especially thin and fluid, making it more flowable and easier to pour. The water-like consistency of casting resins makes them ideal for casting molds or for projects that require a steady flow of liquid, such as river tables.
The flowability of this type of resin means that it cures more slowly, however. Thus, users should plan ahead so that there is an appropriately longer length of time between casting intervals. Low-viscosity resin tends to harden within a period of 12 to 24 hours, during which time the chemical reactionary process is much slower. As a result, very little heat is released during this process, making this type of resin ideal for thicker layers and greater amounts being used within one processing operation.
Casting Resin is Best Used for:
- Casting any and all types of molds.
- Creating jewelry.
- The molded elements in model making.
- Furniture, particularly for resin river tables.
- Repairing cracks or holes in wood.
- Resin flooring for living spaces and garages.
Laminating Resins (High Viscosity)
Laminating resin is most suitable as a coating for surfaces due to its high viscosity, which refers to its thick, honey-like texture. While the thick consistency and slow-pouring nature of this resin makes it ideal for coating surfaces, laminating resin is also an apt choice for creating resin art or resin geodes.
The density of this product means that the maximum thickness of each layer must be adhered to strictly. The recommended layer thickness can usually be found in the manufacturer’s instructions, although a good guideline is to create a layer that is no more than 1 to 2cm thick.
Laminating Resin is Best Used for:
- Resin art, which is when you cast a picture with resin.
- Decorative items, such as resin geodes or trinket dishes.
- Adding a finishing touch to your paintings or artworks.
- Some types of resin jewelry.
- Sealing or coating surfaces such as worktops and tables.
What You Should Know About Resin Viscosities
The flowability and pourability of a resin liquid is a key part of any resin project, as this will have an influence on the materials you use, the thickness of each resin layer, the duration of the processing time, as well as how long the resin takes to cure.
Tip: Typically, you will be able to locate any necessary information about using your resin in on the packaging of the product. The manufacturer’s information should always make it clear as to how much resin can be used within a single process.
During the curing process, the resin heats up as it slowly solidifies. Thinner layers are usually advised so as to prevent overheating the resin. It is also easier to remove air bubbles from thin resin layers, as they are able to rise up and escape from the surface.
Thus, using a low-viscosity resin such as casting resin will enable you to pour thicker, denser layers due to its watery consistency. Low-viscosity resin also produces less heat during the curing process, which is another reason why you can cast thicker layers with this type of resin. Air bubbles can be removed easily by gently blowing over the area with a hot hair dryer or torch.
High-viscosity resin, on the other hand, should never be poured into layers thicker than 1 to 2cm. The density of this kind of resin makes it very difficult to remove air bubbles, meaning that a thinner layer will make this process easier. This resin is also known as laminating resin, as its thick consistency makes it ideal for coating various surfaces.
The processing time is also often referred to as the pot life or open time of a resin. This is the period of time during which the resin can be processed before it hardens. The pot life begins as soon as the 2-part epoxy resin components have been mixed, and ends once the resin begins to set and harden. The pros and cons of both a short and long processing time should be considered before deciding on a type of resin.
Short Processing Time
Long Processing Time
The curing time of resin refers to the period of time after which the resin becomes completely hard and durable. This period tends to be directly linked to that of the resin’s processing time, as a resin with a short processing time is likely to be entirely cured after a relatively short time span.
Processing Time of Different Products
- A short processing time of approximately 20 to 60 minutes should be completely cured within a period of 24 hours.
- A longer processing time of up to 12 hours will require a curing time of as long as one week.
Characteristics of Epoxy Resin
This material has become so popular over the years due to its multitude of uses. The many advantages of this versatile product greatly outweigh its disadvantages, making it a great material with which to complete any number of DIY projects.
The Benefits of Epoxy Resins
Despite the often long and complicated process of casting resin, the final product that emerges once the resin has been completely cured will possess the following properties:
- Great resistance to abrasion and scraping.
- Resistant to acid and corrosion, making it a good choice for cut-resistant coatings on countertops and other work surfaces.
- Extremely durable and strong.
- Unlikely to break from impact.
- The switch from liquid to solid during the curing process means that there is very little shrinkage.
- Moderate density of approximately 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter.
- Good resistance to UV light.
- Great adherence to most materials, such as wood.
- Highly resistant to heat.
- Little to no cracking of the resin itself if it is prepared properly.
- Weather-resistant, which means that it can be used both indoors and outdoors.
You can expect the best attributes and advantages to come from resin products of a higher quality. Top-quality resins have been found to be almost or completely inflammable when in their liquid state.
Potential Drawbacks of Using Resin Epoxy
As is the case with many products, there are some disadvantages to using epoxy-based resin:
- The required materials can be quite costly.
- Resin may not be completely resistant to acids of a high concentration.
- In its liquid state, the resin may cause an allergic reaction in some users if it comes into contact with the skin.
- Once the resin has been cured, it is very difficult to remove.
Is Epoxy Resin Considered Toxic?
While resin is not considered to be especially dangerous, the raw components of the 2-part epoxy resin may cause the skin to become irritated or an allergic reaction in some users. To avoid this from taking place, it is recommended that you wear protective gloves and goggles so as to prevent your skin or any other part of your body from coming into contact with the resin. A filtered breathing mask may also be useful so as to avoid inhaling any toxic fumes.
You are unlikely to encounter any significant issues with regard to health and safety when working with resin as long as you follow some basic protective guidelines. When working with colored or clear epoxy resin, you should always ensure that the following safety measures are taken:
- Wear protective goggles that cover the eyes entirely.
- Wear protective nitrile gloves.
- Wear old clothes that have long arm sleeves and pant legs so as to cover your body as much as possible. You can also wear a protective suit for this purpose.
- Use a well-ventilated room as your workspace.
- Protect yourself from any hazardous fumes by wearing a mask with a built-in filter.
- Ensure that you do not pour too much epoxy liquid into the mixing tub when stirring the resin liquid and hardener together, as this can cause the mixture to spill over.
How to Color Your Clear Epoxy Resin
After mixing your resin liquid and hardener together, you will be left with a substance that is entirely transparent (although products of a poorer quality may result in a yellowish substance instead). There are a number of ways in which you can add color to your resin, depending on your desired effect.
Suitable Means of Coloring Resin
If you decide to use paint to color your resin, you must not use any water-based paints. This is because the water in these paints can prevent the resin from curing properly as well as some other unwanted effects. You can also add color to your resin by using:
- Powdered color pigments
- Alcohol inks
- Liquefied color concentrates
- Airbrush colors
Choosing Your Product
It is best to choose products of the highest possible quality when coloring your resin, as low-quality pigments are more likely to fade over time. You can ensure a vibrant and long-lasting resin pigment when you purchase a product that is of a quality standard.
Others Ways to Color Your Resin
Another means of adding color to your resin is by painting it after it has cured. Painting a resin piece can be difficult, as it is best to use top-quality car paint. Thus, this method tends to be used for more special projects, such as with an aquarium or terrarium.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Epoxy Resins
Can You Seal Wood with Resin Epoxy?
Wood is one of the most popular materials with which to use resin, as the resin is effectively able to seal the pliable, porous surface that is characteristic of most woods, thus preventing moisture. You can use wood and resin in a number of creative ways, such as:
- Adding a protective coating to parts of a boat.
- Sealing and protecting tabletops.
- Sealing and coating any kind of wooden surface.
How Can I Remove Resin from Certain Sections?
Epoxy is renowned for its adhesive qualities and great resistance to heavy loads and types of impact. However, the durability of this material means that it is all the more difficult to remove once it has been cured. While removing resin by physical means can prove to be nearly impossible, it can be removed by reverting the resin to its liquid state so that it can be scraped off.
To do this, you should cover the targeted area with a solvent called acetone and then leave it for one hour in a well-ventilated space. This should cause the resin to become a bit softer. Now that the area has softened, preheat a heat gun to 200 degrees Celsius and go over the resin until it becomes liquefied and can be scraped off. When you are heating the resin, you should ensure that this is done very carefully and slowly so as not to damage or burn any other part of the piece.
Toxic fumes can be released from the process of heating up the solid resin into a liquefied state. Thus, you should ensure that you are wearing an appropriate breathing mask to protect yourself from inhaling any hazardous vapors.
Do You Get Food-Grade Resin?
Once a piece of resin has been cured entirely, it is completely safe to interact with food. However, the curing process of some resins can take up to several weeks before it has completely cured. Some resin manufacturers choose to certify their products as safe to be used with food, although this is rare due to the high costs of doing so.
What is Resin Referring to?
The word “resin” has become an umbrella term within the contemporary art world for any and all kinds of resin. The word is especially popular within the English and German languages as a synonym for epoxy-based resin in particular.
Can You Further Process Resin That Has Already Been Cured?
Once a piece of resin has been completely cured, it becomes a solid that is very hard and durable. Thus, your cured piece of resin can be further processed by the following, which may be achieved manually or with a machine:
Are Coatings Made of Resin Waterproof?
Resin is a highly durable material once it has been cured, and is therefore completely waterproof and weather resistant. This material will only become susceptible to the effects of water if it is broken or cracked, which is unlikely to occur due to the strength of the resin.
What Does the Term “Pot Life” Mean?
The pot life refers to the maximum amount of time needed to process the resin so that it is cured completely. The length of a resin’s pot life is contingent on the following:
- The brand and type of resin used.
- The quantity of resin that can be processed within one operation.
- External factors such as the temperature of the environment and the surface on which you are creating your piece.
- The temperature of the mixed resin.
Over the course of the pot life, the resin mixture will undergo a number of changes. The consistency of the liquid will convert from considerably thin to very thick, which is then followed by a point where the resin cannot be processed any longer as it has become completely solid.
As the processing time can differ between different types, it is important to mix the exact amount of resin that you will conceivably be able to process without becoming stressed. Mixing too much resin can result in the processing time ending before you have been able to get through all of the mixture, thus resulting in wastage.
How Can I Prevent Bubbles From Forming in my Resin?
Bubbles occur naturally when you pour the resin liquid into your cast or mold. In order to prevent bubbles from forming in your resin mixture, take note of the following:
- Do not shake the containers of the resin and hardener components before mixing.
- Keep your hand steady when mixing the two components together.
- Warm up the resin and hardener containers ahead of time by adding them to a warm bath of water.
- Sometimes air bubbles are released into the resin during the process of casting an object. This can be avoided by sealing the object beforehand with a thin layer of resin.
- In more difficult circumstances, air bubbles may be removed with a vacuum pump or hot hairdryer.
Epoxy resin is one of the most useful substances out there for arts, crafts, and DIY projects. This resin provides a durable finish that can be used to enhance various surfaces, and create beautiful effects. For anyone interested in using epoxy resin, the guide above should teach you everything you need to know.