In this article, learn my 11 best 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.
11 Proven Epoxy Resin Tips
- 1. Choosing the Right Epoxy
- 2. DIY Epoxy Mold Tips
- 3. Determine How Much Resin You Need – Simple Epoxy Resin Calculator
- 4. Measure and Mix Epoxy Resin Correctly
- 5. Add Color to Epoxy Resin
- 6. Embedding Objects in Resin
- 7. Epoxy Cure Times
- 8. Sanding Epoxy Resin Tips
- 9. Stop Epoxy Leaks
- 10. Best Finish for Epoxy Resin Projects
- 11. Best Epoxy Resin Safety Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
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
Deep Pour Epoxy
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.
My favorite deep pour epoxy is Liquid Glass 2.0.
Table Top Epoxy
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.
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
My favorite table top epoxy is TotalBoat.
To stabilize and seal wood surfaces, use penetrating epoxy.
For example, many people apply 1 or 2 coats of penetrating epoxy to wood surfaces before applying table top 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
Often times, woodworkers use epoxy to repair defects in wood.
These defects include knots, checks, cracks, voids, and gaps.
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.
My favorite woodworking epoxy is TotalBoat high performance epoxy.
2. DIY Epoxy Mold Tips
First, the tools and material mentioned in this section are mentioned below.Sheathing Tape
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Additionally, hot glue works well and serves as an alternative to silicone caulk.
3. Determine How Much Resin You Need – Simple Epoxy Resin Calculator
As a quick reminder, be sure to download FREE resin calculator download at the end of this article.
The calculator takes the guesswork out of determining how much epoxy needed for any project.
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
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
Drill Mixing Paddle
Large Wood Craft Sticks
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.
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.
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.
5 gallon buckets work best for large epoxy pours.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5. Add Color to Epoxy Resin
First, the tools and material mentioned in this section are listed below.Transparent Dye
Mica Pigment Powder
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 does not dissolve in liquids.
Rather, the tiny particles suspend in liquid and remain separate.
Epoxy pigment powder works best to create an opaque color in epoxy resin.
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.
Conversely, liquid dye dissolves in liquids similar to the way sugar dissolves in water.
As a result, it produces transparent or translucent resin color.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7. Epoxy Cure Times
Epoxy cure time largely depends on the ambient temperature and type of epoxy used.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Use a dust extractor connected to an orbital sander to remove resin dust at the source.
- Turn down the speed of the orbital sander to reduce heat.
- Use a sanding pad with a mesh sandpaper to more effectively remove resin dust and reduce friction.
- Clean sandpaper often while sanding with an air compressor and/or an abrasive cleaning stick.
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.
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:
- Will the project be outdoors or indoors?
- What sheen level do you prefer?
- High Gloss Epoxy Finish.
- Gloss Polish Finish.
- Natural Satin or Matte Finish.
- Do you anticipate heavy use or light use?
After answering the questions above, visit this 4 best finishes for epoxy wood projects article and choose the finish for your application.
In summary, my favorite finishes for epoxy wood projects satisfies all possible scenarios:Rubio Monocoat
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Best Finishes for Epoxy Wood Tables
- How to Sand Epoxy Resin
- 11 Best Epoxy Application Tools
- How to Choose the Best Epoxy Resin
- Simple Epoxy Resin Calculator
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Allow the resin to cure until it is tacky before pouring another layer of epoxy. This eliminates the need for sanding between epoxy coats.
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.
220-grit sandpaper works best between epoxy coats.