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11 DIY Epoxy Tips You Need To Know

In this article, learn my 11 DIY epoxy tips to help make your next project go smoothly from start to finish. I show you how to fix epoxy mistakes and much more.

Over the years, I tackled many epoxy projects such as river tables, epoxy glow tables, resin art projects, outdoor wood bar tops, and more.
Needless to say, I’ve made many costly and time-consuming epoxy mistakes.
So, I compiled a list of proven epoxy tips I use to build custom table tops for clients all over the world.

Download my FREE resin calculator at the end of this article to help you calculate the amount of epoxy you need for your project.

Here are some jump links to the main sections of this post.

  1. Choosing the Right Epoxy
  2. DIY Epoxy Mold Tips
  3. Determine How Much Resin You Need
  4. Measure and Mix Epoxy
  5. Add Color to Epoxy
  6. Embedding Objects in Resin
  7. Epoxy Cure Times
  8. Sanding Epoxy Tips
  9. Stop Epoxy Leaks
  10. Best Finish for Epoxy Projects
  11. Epoxy Safety Tips

1. Choosing the Right Epoxy

Choosing the right epoxy resin for your project is important.

Many beginners use table top epoxy for all projects.
As a result, this leads to extra work, frustration, and many other epoxy mistakes.

Different projects such as river tables, resin art, and outdoor epoxy bar top projects require different types of epoxy resin.

Generally speaking, 4 types of epoxy resin are commonly used for epoxy wood projects.

Deep Pour Epoxy
Table Top Epoxy
Penetrating Epoxy
Woodworking Epoxy

Deep Pour Epoxy

First, my favorite deep pour epoxy is Liquid Glass 2.0.
As the name implies, deep pour epoxy allows epoxy pours up to 4 inches.

 The characteristics or deep pour epoxy are:

  • 2:1 mixing ratio
  • Cures slowly (24 to 72 hours)
  • Allows for more working time
  • Produces Less Heat
  • Low Viscosity (Thinner)

Additionally, the low viscosity of deep pour epoxy absorbs into wood fibers which creates a stronger bond.
For this reason, deep pour epoxy works well for epoxy river tables and deep resin casting projects.

epoxy deep pour second layer

Table Top Epoxy

I recommend TotalBoat table top epoxy resin.
Although most people use table top epoxy for all projects, this type of resin works best on table tops and resin art projects.

Table top epoxy serves as a protective layer over wood surfaces or resin canvas art projects.

How to Finish a Coffee Table with Epoxy Resin

Furthermore, this epoxy has the following characteristics

  • Great for small projects and smaller pieces such as resin jewelry
  • 1:1 mixing ratio
  • Cures quickly (12 to 24 hours)
  • May require multiple seal coats. More on this later.
  • High gloss finish

Choose this epoxy for a table top epoxy finish on a wood table or resin art projects

Penetrating Epoxy

To stabilize and seal wood surfaces, use penetrating epoxy.
In my experience, TotalBoat penetrating epoxy works the best.

For example, many people apply 1 or 2 coats of penetrating epoxy to wood surfaces before applying table top epoxy.

When to Use Penetrating Epoxy

Also, this epoxy seals rotted wood and stabilizes driftwood.
Often times, the marine industry uses this epoxy for wooden boat restoration.

Characteristics of penetrating epoxy are:

  • Wood stabilizer
  • Seals new or rotted wood
  • Choice of cold weather or warm weather mixture
  • Low viscosity for deep penetration

TotalBoat penetrating epoxy works well on outdoor wood slab bar tops and reclaimed wood tables.

Woodworking Epoxy

For woodworking epoxy, I use TotalBoat high performance epoxy.

Often times, woodworkers use epoxy to repair defects in wood.
These defects include knots, checks, cracks, voids, and gaps.

How to Fill Wood Voids with Epoxy

Additionally, woodworking epoxy mixed with mica pigment adds vibrant colors to resin inlays.

The characteristics of woodworking epoxy are:

  • Low viscosity allows epoxy to soak into wood.
  • Bottles include pumps to meter the amount of resin. Eliminates the need for measuring.
  • Choose slow, medium, or fast hardener to control curing times. 

2. DIY Epoxy Mold Tips

First, the tools and material mentioned in this section are mentioned below.

Sheathing Tape
Furniture Wax
Silicone Caulk
Hot Glue Gun
Large Epoxy Silicone Mold
Small Epoxy Silicone Mold

The size, shape, and material used to make an epoxy mold depend on the project and work surface.

Epoxy Mold Size

For small resin casting projects, prefabricated silicone molds work best.
Conversely, some custom woodworking projects require large epoxy molds for tables or large resin wall art pieces.

DIY Wood and Resin Wall Art - Baseball Storage Rack_red opaque pigment resin casting
remove epoxy mold tuck tape

To determine the epoxy mold size, measure the length, width, and height of your project.
Next, add 1 inch to each measurement.

For example, the actual size of your project is 48”x24”x1” (LxWxH).
The space needed on the inside of the epoxy mold would be 49”x25”x2”.

As an alternative, place the project on a flat surface and build an epoxy mold around it.

Melamine Epoxy Mold

Melamine works great to build epoxy molds.

Epoxy resin does not stick to melamine.
Therefore, eliminating the need to use a mold release agent.

Melamine Epoxy Mold

Quick Tip: Apply a thin layer of cheap furniture wax to the surface of the epoxy mold. This makes it easy to remove the cured epoxy project.

epoxy mold release agent wax

In order to reuse melamine epoxy molds, cover the melamine with sheathing tape.
The sheathing tape adds an extra layer of protection to the melamine and keeps it blemish free.
Ultimately, the epoxy releases from the melamine or tuck tape easily after it cures.

remove epoxy table from mold

Epoxy Mold Out of Wood

As an alternative to melamine, MDF or plywood work well to build an epoxy mold.
Since epoxy adheres to wood surfaces, 2 extra steps are required.

First, wrap the plywood surface with sheathing tape.
Then, cover the sheathing tape with a thin layer of furniture wax.

epoxy resin mold sheathing tape

Use Screws to Build Epoxy Mold

Screws work best to construct large epoxy molds.

In addition, pre-drilled and countersunk holes for screws prevent splitting the melamine.
Essentially, screws facilitate disassembly and reuse the epoxy mold for future projects.

Seal Epoxy Mold

Most importantly, always seal the entire epoxy mold with silicone caulk.
Obviously, this prevents epoxy leaks.
More on epoxy leaks later in this article.

Epoxy mold silicone caulk

Pro Tip: For epoxy river tables, apply a thick layer of silicone caulk to the top of the wood to prevent epoxy overflow from spreading.

epoxy deep pour second layer

Additionally, hot glue works well and serves as an alternative to silicone caulk.

epoxy leak hot glue

3. Determine How Much Resin You Need – Simple Epoxy Resin Calculator

A resin calculator takes the guesswork out of determining how much epoxy needed for any project.

how to calculate amount of resin needed

To determine how much epoxy resin needed for a project, use the following formula: 

  • (L*W*H) * .004329 = # of gallons needed
  • (L*W*H) * .017316 = # of quarts needed

First, determine the volume in cubic inches by measuring the length, width, and height of the resin area.
Volume = LxWxH

Quick Tip: If the epoxy area width varies, take a measurement every 6 inches and average the numbers.

Next, multiply this number by .004329 to get the number of gallons needed.
Gallons Needed = Volume * .004329

Or, multiply this number by .017316 to get the number of quarts needed.
Quarts Needed = Volume * .017316

Resin Calculator Example

For example, the area of an epoxy project is 47” long, 10” wide, and 1.5” high.
Therefore, the volume in cubic inches is 705.

(47*10*1.5) * .004329 = ~3 gallons

(47*10*1.5) * .017316 = ~12 quarts

4. Measure and Mix Epoxy Resin Correctly

First, the tools and material used in this section are listed below.

Laser Thermometer
Mixing Buckets
Large Buckets
Drill Mixing Paddle
Large Wood Craft Sticks
Heat Gun
Mini Torch

Measuring and Mixing epoxy resin correctly is very important to the success of your project.
Obviously, the chemical reaction won’t happen if epoxy is measured or mixed incorrectly.

How does 2-part epoxy work?

To summarize, two-part epoxy requires mixing a resin and a hardener.
The hardener stimulates the chemical reaction.
Next, the chemical reaction bonds molecules into polymer chains.
Then, the polymer chains lead to curing.

Ambient Temperature

Also, epoxy resin manufacturers recommend a certain room temperature for both part A and part B.
To raise the temperature of epoxy resin, place the containers of epoxy resin in warm water.
Then, check the temperature with a laser thermometer.

Keep in mind, the majority of mixing problems occur during cold weather. 

Epoxy Bar Top using Reclaimed Wood temperature reading

Measuring Epoxy Resin Tips

When measuring 2-part epoxy, 3 containers make it easy to get accurate measurements before mixing..

In fact, most epoxy resin manufacturers recommend 3 containers.
Each container serves a different purpose when measuring epoxy resin.

  • First Container: Part A
  • Second Container: Part B
  • Third Container: Mix Part A and Part B

For small epoxy pours, use small to medium mixing containers.

how to mix liquid glass 2.0 epoxy for river table

5 gallon buckets work best for large epoxy pours.

chill deep pour epoxy mixing
chill deep pour epoxy mixing
chill deep pour epoxy mixing

Common Mistake when Measuring Epoxy Resin

Most people use one container to measure epoxy resin.
However, one mistake with one container ruins the mixture and wastes material.

For example, you need 16 ounces of part A and 16 ounces of part B to mix 32 ounces of epoxy.
First, you pour 16 ounces of part A into a container.
Then, you pour part B into the same container. However, you accidentally pour an extra 1.5 ounces into the container.
As a result, this epoxy mixture may not cure properly.

Most importantly, always follow the manufacturer instructions when mixing epoxy resin.
Epoxy manufacturers use different formulas to create their product and test it thoroughly.
Consequently, the instructions included with epoxy contain the best information.

Mix Epoxy Resin

Improperly mixing epoxy resin is the most common problem with epoxy projects.
Mixing epoxy resin correctly facilitates a proper chemical reaction, minimizes air bubbles, and hardens correctly.

How to Mix Deep Pour Epoxy

The viscosity of epoxy determines the proper epoxy tool to use to mix epoxy resin.
Low viscosity of deep pour epoxy make it less likely for air bubbles to form.
Therefore, a drill and mixing paddle with the drill set to low speed works best to mix deep pour epoxy.

mix glow powder with epoxy

Mixing Table Top Epoxy

Since most table top epoxy is thick (high viscosity), air bubbles cannot rise to the surface and get trapped.
As a result, table top epoxy should be mixed by hand with wood craft stir stick.

mixing glow powder for epoxy river desk

To minimize epoxy air bubbles in table top epoxy, do not whip when stirring.
Instead, stir in a circular motion while scraping the sides of the buckets counterclockwise and clockwise.
Also, scrape the bottom of the container with the mixing stick and fold the material on top.

Initially, the epoxy turns cloudy when mixing starts.
After 3 to 5 minutes of mixing, the epoxy turns clear and becomes easier to stir.
Essentially, this means the epoxy is properly mixed.
The picture below shows the clarity of mixed epoxy compared to epoxy not yet mixed.

best epoxy resin for thick pours

Before and after the epoxy pour, use a mini torch or heat gun to remove air bubbles.
Make sure to remove loose dust and debris before using a heat gun.
Obviously, a heat gun could contaminate the epoxy.

remove epoxy air bubbles with mini torch

5. Add Color to Epoxy Resin

First, the tools and material mentioned in this section are listed below.

Transparent Dye
Opaque Dye
Glow Powder
Mica Pigment Powder
Alcohol Ink

Two-part epoxy allows people to add liquid dyes, pigment powder, and mica powder to color the epoxy.
Before using these to color clear epoxy resin, there are a few epoxy tips to keep top of mind.

Mix Before Adding Color

Epoxy must be properly mixed and ready to pour before coloring the epoxy.
If not, the chemical reaction may not happen as intended.

Epoxy Pigment Powder vs. Liquid Dye

Most people use pigment powder or liquid dye to color resin.
In fact, many resin artists add color to epoxy resin with acrylic paint.
Although both pigment powder and liquid dye color epoxy resin, each dissolve and look differently.

Pigment Powder

Pigment powder does not dissolve in liquids. 
Rather, the tiny particles suspend in liquid and remain separate.

epoxy glow powder mixing ratio

Epoxy pigment powder works best to create an opaque color in epoxy resin.

blue epoxy glow in the dark resin pour

Additionally, glow in the dark pigment for resin can be used to make amazing epoxy river glow tables.
Our DIY epoxy river glow table plans provide detailed step by step instructions to make your own.

epoxy river glow table
Epoxy Ocean Table Glow in the Dark

Although transparent pigments exist, they don’t work as well as liquid dye.
Pigment powder, mica powder, and glow in the dark powder work best for everything except translucent coloring.

Liquid Dye

Conversely, liquid dye dissolves in liquids similar to the way sugar dissolves in water.
As a result, it produces transparent or translucent resin color.

Adding blue transparent resin dye

While liquid dye dissolves in resin, issues arise if used in excess.
Essentially, it may disrupt the epoxy and hardener chemical reaction if used in excess.

Furthermore, liquid dye works best to make epoxy resin transparent or translucent.
In other words, liquid dye works well for epoxy ocean tables or resin ocean wave art.

translucent epoxy ocean table

Alcohol Ink

Furthermore, advanced resin artists use alcohol inks to enhance resin art pieces.
Essentially, liquid dye mixed with alcohol comprises alcohol ink.

Alcohol ink adds resin art effects such as ocean waves, resin lacing, and resin cells.
Keep in mind, these resin effects can be created without using alcohol ink.

resin ocean wave art tutorial using alcohol ink
How to make resin art lacing on canvas

Do not add alcohol ink to epoxy resin before it’s poured on the surface of your workpiece.
Most importantly, use alcohol ink sparingly in resin as it inhibits the cure.

What is the difference between pigment powder and mica powder?

Pigment powders are true colors all the way through – similar to chalk.
For example, pigments are used to add color to paint.

epoxy pour for transparent river desk

Mica powders are natural stone material with shiny flakes – similar to fine glitter.
For example, mica powders are used to add to enhance car paint.

add pigment powder to epoxy
mixing epoxy resin and pigment powder

6. Embedding Objects in Resin

The tools and material used to embed objects in resin are listed below.

Acrylic Rocks
LED Light Strip

Embedding objects in epoxy resin makes epoxy projects fun, unique, and creative.
Before you start embedding LED lights in resin or setting seashells in epoxy, there are a few epoxy tips you need to know.

Seal the Surface

Make sure to seal the surface of the embedded object with a thin coat of resin.
Essentially, sealing the object prevents contamination, air bubbles, and promotes a proper bond.

For example, seal seashells with epoxy before encasing shells in epoxy.

setting shells in resin

Suspend Objects in Resin

Multiple epoxy pours is the easiest way to suspend objects in epoxy.

First, pour a layer of epoxy and allow it to partially cure.
Next, test the resin using the fingerprint test. 
If you can leave a fingerprint without the epoxy sticking to your finger, it’s ready for the next layer of epoxy.

epoxy river with rocks

Keep in mind, the objects may sink to the bottom of the epoxy if the resin is too soft.
Conversely, the items may float if the bottom layer of epoxy is cured.

Then, place the object on top of the epoxy.
It should adhere to the tacky surface.

epoxy river table with rocks

Finally, pour a layer of epoxy over the object.
The bottom layer of epoxy on this river table contains glow powder, followed by acrylic rocks, and encased in clear epoxy.

transparent epoxy river desk with rocks final pour

The 2 layer approach also works well for glow powder followed by a clear layer of epoxy – similar to this live edge walnut slab dining table.

Embed and suspend LED lights in resin to create a cool lighting effect.

Tunnel through resin for embedding objects

Epoxy Resin over Rocks

Epoxy river rock tables remain popular projects among the DIY community and professionals.
Furthermore, these river tables often contain embedded rocks in epoxy.
So, here are a few epoxy tips to help you build an awesome resin river rock table.

Transparent Epoxy River Desk with Rocks Final Picture

If you plan to do embed rocks in epoxy, do not use real rocks near the end of the table.
Most of the time, the ends of epoxy river tables need to be trimmed with a saw after curing.

trim resin art with Festool TS75 track saw

Needless to say, river rocks and saw blades don’t mix well together.

For example, this epoxy resin river table has embedded fire glass.
Obviously, trimming this table will ruin a saw blade.

Resin River Table that Glows

Alternatively, use acrylic rocks instead of real rocks or fire glass for river rock tables.
Acrylic rocks float in epoxy.
As a result, this allows the rocks to be added to the first epoxy layer.

add acrylic rocks to epoxy river table

7. Epoxy Cure Times

Epoxy cure time largely depends on the ambient temperature and type of epoxy used.

Epoxy Bar Top using Reclaimed Wood temperature reading

Ambient Temperature

Ambient temperature means the temperature relating to the immediate surroundings.  
In other words, the temperature at the epoxy curing location is the ambient temperature.

Most epoxy resin manufacturers recommend an ambient temperature between 65 to 80 degrees to determine the amount of time for curing.
However, some epoxy is specifically made to cure in cold temperatures.

In summary, epoxy cures faster in warmer temperatures and slower in cooler temperatures.

Deep Pour Epoxy Cure Time

The cure time for most deep pour epoxy is 72 hours. 
To clarify, epoxy that allows a 2” to 4” pour is defined as deep pour epoxy.

chill epoxy deep pour

Deep pour epoxy uses a 2:1 mixing ratio. 
This 2:1 mixing ratio contains 2 parts resin and 1 part hardener.
Consequently, the chemical reaction generates less heat and cures slowly allowing for deeper epoxy pours.

Table Top Epoxy Cure Time

The cure time for table top epoxy is 24 hours.
Most table top epoxy uses a 1:1 mixing ratio – an equal amount of resin and hardener.

epoxy flood coat

Table top epoxy generates more heat and cures faster than deep pour epoxy.
Consequently, it only allows 1/8” to 1/4” deep pours.

8. Sanding Epoxy Resin Tips

The tools and material used in this section are listed below.

Rotex Sander
Granat NET Discs
Vacuum for Sander
Hand Sander
Abrasive Cleaning Stick

Whether you need to sand between multiple epoxy coats or before applying a final finish, sanding is necessary in most epoxy projects.
With this in mind, learning how to sand epoxy resin is important.

sand epoxy for matte finish

Allow me to clarify the following question I receive quite often from people.

Why is my epoxy cloudy after sanding?

After sanding epoxy, the finish will appear cloudy, dull, and lightly scratched.
You didn’t ruin the project.  This is completely normal.
The additional epoxy coat or finish will restore the clarity as illustrated below.

Epoxy Bar Top using Reclaimed Wood seal coats
Epoxy Bar Top stonecoat countertop epoxy seal coat

Multiple Epoxy Coats

Obviously, epoxy needs a rough surface in order to bond and cure properly.
Since cured epoxy is very smooth, the surface must be lightly sanded before adding a second epoxy resin coat.
A hand sander with 220 grit sandpaper sufficiently sands most epoxy surfaces.
Additionally, wipe the surface with 91% isopropyl alcohol after sanding to remove the resin dust.

Epoxy Bar Top using Reclaimed Wood sanding after seal coat

Quick Epoxy Tip:  For resin projects, such as resin jewelry, wet sanding may be required to produce a crystal clear finish.
This is not required for most epoxy wood projects.

Sanding Epoxy Resin with Orbital Sander

An epoxy resin wood table requires sanding to prepare the surface for the final finish.
Furthermore, it calls for a slightly different technique than sanding rough wood.

How To Sand Epoxy Resin

White spots in epoxy after sanding with an orbital sander is the most common problem.
Essentially, resin dust combined with the heat produced from sanding produces white spots.

The 4 sanding epoxy tips prevent white spots.

  1. Use a dust extractor connected to an orbital sander to remove resin dust at the source.
  2. Turn down the speed of the orbital sander to reduce heat.
  3. Use a sanding pad with a mesh sandpaper to more effectively remove resin dust and reduce friction.
  4. Clean sandpaper often while sanding with an air compressor and/or an abrasive cleaning stick.
sand epoxy resin tip

Keep in mind, cured poxy resin produces a fine dust, similar to sheet rock, when sanded.
Therefore, wear an air respirator and use a dust collector for your sander if possible.

For more detailed information, visit this epoxy resin sanding tutorial.

9. Stop Epoxy Leaks

Despite your best efforts to prevent epoxy leaks, it will eventually happen.
With this in mind, be prepared to stop epoxy leaks before they happen with these epoxy tips.

epoxy leak hot glue

A hot glue gun works best to stop epoxy leaks. 
Simply apply hot glue directly over the epoxy leak and cover the surrounding area.
Blow air on the hot glue to expedite the drying process.

As a quick tip, make sure to have a hot glue gun ready to go before starting any epoxy project.

10. Best Finish for Epoxy Resin Projects

Choosing a finish for epoxy resin projects confuse most beginners.
To eliminate the confusion and narrow down the finish options, answer these 3 simple questions:

  1. Will the project be outdoors or indoors?
  2. What sheen level do you prefer?
    • High Gloss Epoxy Finish.
    • Gloss Polish Finish.
    • Natural Satin or Matte Finish.
  3. Do you anticipate heavy use or light use?
what finish to use on epoxy river table

After answering the questions above, visit this 4 best finishes for epoxy wood projects article and choose the finish for your application.

best finishes for epoxy river table

In summary, my favorite finishes for epoxy wood projects satisfies all possible scenarios:

Rubio Monocoat
Odie’s Oil
Epoxy Polish
Table Top Epoxy

11. Best Epoxy Resin Safety Tips

First, the following safety gear provides the protection needed when when working with epoxy resin.

91% Isopropyl Alcohol
N95 mask
Nitrile gloves
DIY mini split

Let’s cover 4 important epoxy tips for safety.

Protect Your Hands

First, you need nitrile gloves or latex gloves to protect your hands when working with epoxy resin.
Obviously, epoxy is a chemical and can irritate your skin.

How to Finish a Coffee Table with Epoxy Resin

Wear an Air Respirator

An N95 air respirator with an organic filter provides proper protection from fumes and resin dust.
Always wear a respirator when working with epoxy resin.

A chemical reaction occurs when mixing epoxy resin and continues during the curing process.
Obviously, inhaling these fumes can’t be good for your health.
Even though the fumes are odorless, they still may be harmful.

As previously mentioned, sanding epoxy resin produces fine dust.
This requires extra respiratory protection.

Skin Protection

Inevitably, you will either spill epoxy or get it on your skin. 
So, make sure to have a few bottles of 91% isopropyl alcohol and shop rags.
Isopropyl alcohol makes it easy to clean up epoxy resin spills.

Proper Ventilation in Work Area

Proper ventilation is important in an epoxy work area to draw fumes away from the epoxy resin. 
So, keep the air moving by opening a window or installing a DIY ductless mini split.

How to Install a Mini Split - refrigerant lines loosen cap


In this article, I’ve only included proven epoxy tips I use on my epoxy projects.
For those who need step-by-step instruction, I have downloadable DIY plans available.

Related Posts

How do you spread epoxy resin evenly?

Although epoxy resin is self-leveling on flat surfaces, you need to spread it manually. Use a squeegee, plastic spreader, or your hand while wearing gloves.

How long do you let resin sit before pouring another layer?

Allow the resin to cure until it is tacky before pouring another layer of epoxy. This eliminates the need for sanding between epoxy coats.

Do you have to sand between layers of resin?

If you allow the resin to fully cure, lightly sand the surface to make sure the layers bond together. Ideally, the first layer should still be tacky before adding the next layer of resin.

What grit sandpaper should I use between epoxy coats?

220-grit sandpaper works best between epoxy coats.

proven epoxy tips