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More and more people around the world are partaking in the DIY craft of casting epoxy resin, as this versatile material can be used for any number of projects. As epoxy resin is a transparent liquid, you may be interested in learning how to color resin so as to create breathtaking works of art.
Table of Contents
- 1 Choosing the Right Type of Resin Color
- 2 A Guide on How to Color Resin
- 3 The Best Liquid Paints for Coloring Resin
- 4 The Best Colored Epoxy Powders
- 5 Unsuitable Materials for Adding Color to Epoxy
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6.1 What Should I Use for Coloring Resin?
- 6.2 Can I Use a Colored Lacquer Over my Resin Casting?
- 6.3 Must I Use a Special Epoxy Dye for Coloring UV Resin?
- 6.4 Is Colored Epoxy Resistant to Heat?
- 6.5 Can I Use a Black or White Resin Dye?
- 6.6 Is It Possible to Learn How to Color Epoxy Resin Adhesive?
- 6.7 How Can I Make My Resin Dye Transparent?
- 6.8 When Should I Add Powdered Resin Color?
- 6.9 What Proportions of Epoxy Dye Should I Use?
- 6.10 Is It Safe to Use Colored Epoxy in Aquariums and Terrariums?
- 6.11 Can I Learn How to Color Resin with Food Paint?
- 6.12 Is Printer Ink a Suitable Resin Color?
Choosing the Right Type of Resin Color
When learning how to color epoxy resin, you will find that not every colorant is suitable for epoxy resin. Some pigments made of oil or water can affect the mixing ratio of your resin, whereas other products may affect the curing process of the resin and can cause unsightly marks on the surface. Thus, it is important to select an appropriate pigment for your resin project to achieve the best results. We suggest that you use the following types of colorants for your epoxy resin requirements.
Using Powdered Pigments for Coloring Resin
One of the easiest and most effective means of coloring your epoxy resin is by using a pigmented powder. It is best to use a powder of high quality, as this will ensure that you get the best color. In fact, these powders contain such strong pigments that you need just a little in order to achieve your desired hue.
Powdered pigments are particularly popular due to the fact that they are not entirely soluble. This means that the powder does not completely dissolve when mixed with the liquid resin, resulting in a grainy effect that can look quite attractive once applied to the surface.
Adding Color to Epoxy with Liquid Paints
One of the most effective epoxy colorants is that of liquid paint, as it is easily mixed with liquid resin. You can guarantee an even color with liquid paints on account of how completely they dissolve in the resin.
A Guide on How to Color Resin
If you would like to learn how to color epoxy resin, you should first ensure that you have calculated the correct mixing ratio for your resin liquid and hardener. You should read through the manufacturer’s directions with care when measuring these quantities, as failure to do so can result in problems with the processing and curing of your epoxy project. As this mixing ratio will be affected somewhat by the addition of a colorant, we recommend following these instructions:
- The goal is to affect the mixing ratio of the epoxy resin as little as possible. To do this, your paints or pigments need to be highly concentrated.
- Ensure that your paints do not contain any water.
- We recommend testing any new colorants on a small batch before proceeding to color all of your resin. Simply mix a small amount of resin mixture with the paint or pigment in a separate container to observe the results. This way, you will be able to anticipate the effects of the colorant and can adjust the dose accordingly.
- Coloring your resin will not stop it from yellowing over time. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays over a period of time will eventually cause your resin to develop a yellow hue. This will occur regardless of whether or not you add color, although it will be less noticeable if the resin is pigmented.
- The sun’s harmful UV rays can also cause the color to change or fade.
- We recommend that beginners work with clear resin first in order to become familiar with the material. Once you have experience working with the transparent liquid, you will be more adept at determining the pigment dosage and you can begin experimenting with color!
Step-by-Step Directions on Adding Color to Epoxy
Now that you have a full understanding of all that is involved in coloring your resin, it is time for you to embark on your own project! Follow the set of directions below in order to color your resin successfully:
- Epoxy begins to harden as soon as the resin liquid and hardener have been mixed together. Thus, we suggest that you gather all of the materials you will need so that you can optimize your time working with the epoxy.
- Cover your working area and surrounds with foil or cardboard in order to prevent any damage. This will also make the clean-up process easier. Wear protective goggles, nitrile gloves, and a breathing mask to protect yourself from hurting your skin or breathing in the toxic fumes.
- Measure your separate resin and hardener liquids exactly so as to achieve the optimal ratio. Stir the two components together for 3-5 minutes to ensure that they are properly mixed.
- Add your precisely measured dose of paint or powder. Begin by adding a small amount of the pigment to your resin mixture and stirring it until an even color has developed. You can add more color until you have reached your desired shade.
- A good rule of thumb is to use approximately 2% of color in relation to resin solution ratio. You must never exceed more than 5% of color, however, as this will affect the curing process of the resin and will prevent it from hardening properly.
The Best Liquid Paints for Coloring Resin
There are a number of kinds of liquid paints available on the market, many of which have been specially formulated for epoxy resin. The type of liquid paint you use will affect the final outcome of your resin project, so it is important to choose wisely. If you are interested in using liquid paints to add color to your resin, we suggest that you dye, inks, or airbrush paint.
The fact that epoxy dye is made from a prepolymer and that epoxy resin also contains polymers means that these two materials complement each other well. You will be able to mix this dye with your epoxy solution with great ease. These dyes are ideal for coloring casting resins as well as UV resin. We recommend using DecorRom’s pack of epoxy resin pigments:
- An assortment of 18 transparent colors
- Safe and easy to use
- Cost-effective and long-lasting
Where most inks possess a water base, you will require an alcohol-based ink for your epoxy resin project. These transparent inks contain highly concentrated color pigments, making them ideal for dying your resin with just a few drops. However, these inks are not particularly lightfast, meaning that they are prone to fading and discoloration when exposed to UV light over a long period of time. We suggest trying Tim Holtz’s set of alcohol-based ink bottles:
- Includes eight 3-pack sets for 24 different colors
- Quick-drying and transparent
- Results in a polished, stone look
While airbrush paints are used primarily in creating spray-like effects in design projects, this low-viscosity paint is also ideal for dying your epoxy resin! We suggest that you select a product of high quality with a good concentration of color, such as Vallejo’s metallic air paint set:
- Premium-quality airbrush colors
- Each bottle comes with a dropper
- The packaging prevents drying and evaporation
The Best Colored Epoxy Powders
Pigmented powders can be made from either natural or synthetic materials, although today very few colored powders contain natural pigments. In the past, natural ingredients such as soil and minerals would be dried and then finely ground into a powder. However, most of the natural pigments used for these powders have been exhausted, meaning that they are no longer available on the market.
Early synthetic powders were banned at a point, as they contained toxic compounds and were seen as a health risk. Today, however, synthetic pigmented powders have been optimized for epoxy resin and are significantly safer to use. Simply ensure that you don the appropriate protective gear.
Epoxy Pigment Powder
Epoxy colored pigments include a vast range of looks, such as basic, matte colors and shiny, metallic pigments. You need to ensure that you choose a pigment with high resistance to the sun’s light and UV rays, as this will prevent the color from fading or changing. You can ensure a lightfast color when you spend a bit more on a top-quality brand. We recommend the Mica brand for a set of basic color pigments:
- 25 different colors
- Fast to dissolve
- Can be used for a wide variety of DIY projects
You can create a glow-in-the-dark effect by adding a luminescent pigment to your epoxy resin. You can choose between a pigment that glows when exposed to a black light or one that glows in the dark for a number of hours after being charged with UV light. We recommend using DecorRom’s glow-in-the-dark pigment powder:
- Pack of 10 luminous colors
- Non-toxic, non-radioactive, and cruelty-free
The possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to the effects that you can create by using glitter powder. There is a wide range of glitter from which to choose, such as metallic and even holographic glitter. The glitter in this powder will not dissolve nor will it color the epoxy resin. Thus, you may want to mix this powder with another pigment to create a number of shimmering effects. You should try using the Let’s Resin brand for holographic glitter powder:
- Set of 15 colors
- Premium quality holographic glitter
- Wide application of uses
Tip: When adding any kind of color to your epoxy resin, you need to ensure that you are wearing suitable protective gear, particularly so as to prevent the inhalation of toxic fumes. We suggest a pair of safety goggles, new nitrile gloves, and a breathing mask.
Unsuitable Materials for Adding Color to Epoxy
Some colorant types should never be mixed with epoxy resin. Despite its durability once cured, epoxy resin is quite sensitive to chemical and temperature changes in its liquid state. Thus, you should take care to avoid using the following pigments, as they will have a negative effect on the outcome of your epoxy resin piece.
Acrylic paints should be avoided due to their water base, which will influence the mixing ratio of your resin. In addition to water and a color pigment, these paints tend to contain a number of binding agents, additives, and preservatives. The ingredients in this paint can cause any number of unwanted effects on your resin project. Using acrylic paint in your resin will also cause the surface to become matte and streaked with dry.
Oil-based paints are often comprised of fats or lipids, which do not mix well with resin. The addition of this kind of paint will result in insoluble lumps forming within the mixture.
As with any other water-based pigments, watercolor paints are not suitable to be used for coloring resin. In addition to the water base interfering with the resin’s mixing ratio, these paints do not possess strong enough pigments to color the resin in an effective way. The consistency of these paints would also make the task of mixing it with resin that much more difficult.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Use for Coloring Resin?
To add color to casting resin, you should note that this type of epoxy possesses a low viscosity, meaning that the liquid is quite thin. You can use the aforementioned paints and pigment powders to color your epoxy resin.
Can I Use a Colored Lacquer Over my Resin Casting?
Yes, you can apply a layer of colored lacquer over your resin surface, although we suggest that you use a two-component lacquer of premium quality. Car paint has been found to work well for this purpose, however, you will see better results if the resin was colored before it was cast.
Must I Use a Special Epoxy Dye for Coloring UV Resin?
There is no specific type of color that needs to be using when coloring UV resin. You simply need to ensure that you measure your pigment carefully so as not to disrupt the mixing ratio of the resin.
Is Colored Epoxy Resistant to Heat?
Once completely cured, both clear and colored epoxy resins are resistant to heat up to a point. Generally, resin surfaces can withstand temperatures of between 158 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit (between 70 and 100 degrees Celsius), where the exact temperature will depend on the quality and properties of the product used.
However, some dyes or pigments may have a negative effect on the heat-resistance of the resin. Thus, we suggest that you cover all colored epoxy surfaces that are likely to be exposed to hot temperatures with an additional clear coating of resin for protection.
Can I Use a Black or White Resin Dye?
You could mix a black or white dye into your resin solution, but these colors may not dry in as solid a fashion as you may like.
Is It Possible to Learn How to Color Epoxy Resin Adhesive?
It is relatively simple to add a pigment to your resin adhesive. However, you should take into consideration that the processing time may be affected and that the resin may take longer to cure and harden completely.
How Can I Make My Resin Dye Transparent?
Provided you do not paint your resin afterward, any dye that has been added to the resin before casting will remain slightly transparent. We suggest choosing lighter colors if you specifically desire a more transparent finish. You can also try using small amounts of airbrush or printer inks to create a transparent color.
When Should I Add Powdered Resin Color?
Adding powdered pigments to your resin can increase UV-resistance, meaning that you should add a pigment to any epoxy pieces that will be exposed to constant sunlight. However, when mixed with resin these colorants do not dissolve completely, leaving behind a grainy finish.
What Proportions of Epoxy Dye Should I Use?
As a rule of thumb, you should use no more than 5% color in relation to the total volume of the resin. We suggest beginning with 2% of color and increasing the amount in small doses from there. You are unlikely to require a large amount of pigment, however, as a small amount of concentrated color tends to go a long way.
The reason why you should never exceed the 5% ratio (or, in some cases, 6%) is because too much of a colorant will negatively influence the carefully calculated mixing ratio. Epoxy resin is a sensitive material, and any significant change to its internal chemistry will result in a piece that does not harden properly.
Is It Safe to Use Colored Epoxy in Aquariums and Terrariums?
Once a colored resin piece has cured and dried entirely, it will pose no risk to animals or humans.
Can I Learn How to Color Resin with Food Paint?
You cannot use food paint to color your resin as the composition of these dyes is incompatible. Food-based colors would also be more sensitive to the effects of the sun.
Is Printer Ink a Suitable Resin Color?
You can, in principle, use printer ink to dye your epoxy resin, but this kind of pigment is not particularly lightfast. Thus, you should only use printer inks on resin pieces that will not be exposed to the sun.
Resin color and dye can be used to transform your creations into truly special works of art. Resin is a clear solution, and adding color works really well. The above guide on pigments and dyes should help you to find the ideal coloring solution for resin.