Epoxy resin floors have been in buzz lately. But the material isn’t just limited to this; you can do several other projects using it.
If you’ve taken up the mighty task of doing a DIY epoxy resin project, it’s only natural to feel stuck at certain points. One such point is the measuring and mixing of resin and hardeners. Getting that ratio right can indeed be a challenging task, even for experienced builders.
That’s why we’ve put together an elaborate step-by-step guide to assist you with the mixing process. We’ll also give you details about the preparation and application part so you can go ahead and ace that epoxy project.
Let’s get started right away!
Guide To Mixing Epoxy Resin
A. Prepping up
Before getting to the mixing and measuring of epoxy resin, a little prepping up is needed. We’ll cover that bit in this section.
Choose A High-Quality Epoxy Product
Choosing a good resin product that suits all your needs is the first step in the right direction, and you need to do your homework while choosing. Know what you’re going to do with the epoxy, read up articles, and research which one will suit your purpose the best.
Are you going to use it for coating a surface, or do you just need to fill up some holes in an old wooden piece? There are different epoxies for different purposes, and we suggest getting a specialized one instead of their all-purpose counterparts.
Check the product description carefully and go for top-quality and reliable brands only. An epoxy resin is something you cannot take many risks with, as there are many products on the market that are just a waste of money. Some do not harden at all, while others are already yellow, even before application.
Gather The Equipment
The next step is to get all your supplies and gear in place. Here’s a list of equipment you’ll need:
- Mixing cups (avoid containers that contain oils or fats if you’re using recycled cups)
- Mixing sticks
- Eye protection
- Latex or rubber gloves (reusable or disposable)
- Mini digital scale or measuring cylinders
Once you’re ready with all the products and equipment, you can move on to the next part, measuring the epoxy resin and mixing it in correct proportions. We advise covering the spot where you’ll be working with newspapers or rags, so you don’t spoil your floor while working.
Get The Ratio Right
Each product has a different resin to hardener mixing ratio, which majorly determines its effectiveness and utility. The easiest and the most basic ones are mixed in a 1:1 ratio, which is a no-brainer, and if you’ve managed to pick one that follows this scheme, count yourself lucky.
There are others that require two parts or three parts of resin for each part of the hardener, and they are attainable as well. But problems arise with the complicated ones that demand a proportion of 100:45 or 100:47, so you might need a little extra assistance in such cases.
You can usually find the fractional details on the package, but in case this information is discrete, you can refer to an online epoxy resin calculator. The mixing ratio has to be precise to the point, else it won’t harden properly, and all your hard work will go down the drain.
The calculator will ask you to feed various dimensions like length, width, and thickness of the project, the volume of epoxy, and other details. Fill in all this data carefully, and you’ll find out the accurate mixing ratio.
Measuring By Volume Vs. Measuring By Weight
Some people suggest, like all other products, resin and hardeners should be measured in terms of weight too. But the fact that the density of both of these solutions differs must not be overlooked.
Therefore, it is better to measure the products in terms of volume instead of weight. But we’ll leave the choice to you and explain both methods one by one.
A. By Weight
First and foremost, power on your digital weighing scale and choose the desired units. Scales mostly measure in ounces or grams, so pick a unit that gives you the freedom to determine 0.1 gram or ounce.
Once you get the units straight, place the mixing cup on the scale and set it as the zero balance by pressing the zero selection or “tare” button. Now pour the resin and note the amount, let’s say ten ounces, for instance.
Next, measure the amount of hardener required as per the instructed proportions. If your product says 2:1, then your hardener should be five ounces. Pour the hardener from the container directly into the mixing cup, and if by chance the weighing machine resets because of inactivity, you’ll need to weigh only the hardener.
However, we don’t recommend following this method as you’ll have to keep a note of the differences in the weight of epoxy and hardener. You can use measuring charts for quick reference, but that is too much hassle.
B. By Volume
Assess the amount of material needed for the application as closely as possible, and if you don’t get enough on the first go, you can always mix up another batch. Since epoxy resin is an expensive commodity, try and minimize the wastage as much as you can.
Start off by pouring the resin into the measuring cylinder or graduated cup and ensure that the lower meniscus meets the quantitative mark you are aiming for. Fun fact: while measuring solutions, mostly those that are colorless are measured by looking at the lower meniscus, while colored ones are assessed using the upper meniscus or the flat surface.
However, the warm resin lays flat, so you should give it enough time to settle down. When you’re done with the epoxy, you can proceed by pouring the hardener as per the ratio. Fortunately, the volume doesn’t take the density differences into account, and that makes the whole process significantly convenient.
Mix The Epoxy Resin
Mix both the solutions thoroughly for three to four minutes using a mixing stick, and you can continue whisking for even longer if the quantities are large. Scrape off the bottom and the sides of your mixing cup while doing this, so there aren’t any lumps.
Don’t stop until you’re absolutely sure that both the solutions are completely mixed and have the desired consistency. One sure sign of attaining success is that your formula will be uniform and stop streaking.
Dispense The Epoxy Resin
Moving on, we have a few tips for dispensing the mixed epoxy:
Most importantly, epoxy resins are very sensitive to temperature, and humidity changes; that’s why you shouldn’t use them outside when it’s freezing or moist and chances of condensation are extremely high.
Next, don’t let the mixture sit in the pot for too long and start working as soon as you can, and that is directly proportional to its quantity. Meaning, the more is the quantity, the faster you should apply it because the consistency gets affected if you leave it unattended.
Start the application process by evenly spreading a thin layer of the resin using a squeegee and smoothing it out with a brush instead of pouring a thick layer directly from the container. Wait for the resin to tack and then proceed to apply a second layer or fill in the left-out spots.
Furthermore, pump two strokes of epoxy for each stroke of the hardener by pressing the head entirely and allowing it to retract fully. Partial strokes will mess up your ratio, and you wouldn’t want that. Lastly, we advise you to calibrate your dispenser carefully for accurate proportions before you begin pumping.
Get The Surface Ready
Preparing your surface for adhesion is important before you start applying the epoxy resin. For effective mechanical adherence, the surface should ideally be clean, moisture-free, and properly sanded.
A. Chemical Bonds
These bonds, also known as primary bonds, are formed when partially cured epoxy is covered with a fresh coat of epoxy. Primary bonding depends on the molecules of the previous layer for chemical reactions.
B. Mechanical Bonds
Mechanical bonds are secondary bonds that resemble the previous category, except they are applied on a fully cured layer. When the first layer is completely dried out, the window for chemical reactions closes. Hence mechanical bonds are formed when the molecules of the second layer key into the pores of the previous one.
Curing And Cleaning Epoxy Resin
The time taken by the epoxy resin liquid mixture to solidify is known as the curing period. The formula first transforms into a gel and then finally into solid to give the final finish.
Always try to stay near your project or keep checking up on it frequently during the curing period. Curing occurs best at room temperature, so you won’t need any external agents to alter the temperature (like oven or blow dryer).
Furthermore, if you feel the need for trimming, try to pull out the tape an hour or two after the resin has started setting. It is easier to do when the epoxy is three-fourths cured as opposed to completely cured.
Top Coats And Finishing
The final and most important step in the process is applying a top coat on your brand new epoxy resin surface and making it durable against moisture and sunlight.
The glossy white coatings last the longest on epoxy as they reflect most of the light hitting its surface. Dull surfaces aren’t capable of doing that and absorb the light, weakening and turning the epoxy yellow as a result.
Since completely cured epoxy resin is an inert and tough plastic, it doesn’t react and is compatible with most coatings. It also doesn’t swell or soften in contact with paint solvents. Elevate the temperature once your epoxy sets, allowing it to cure thoroughly.
Here are a few types of finish coatings that work best on epoxy resin:
A. Epoxy Paints
Available in one-part and two-part versions, these paints are chemical resistant and durable. However, they aren’t the best when it comes to UV protection.
B. Alkyd Finishes
These finishes are low-cost, easily available, easy to apply, and low in toxicity. But, just like epoxy paints, alkyd finishes also have low abrasion and UV resistance.
C. One-Part Polyurethanes
One-Part Polyurethanes offer much UV protection than the previous two options and are easy to apply and clean.
D. Two-Part Linear Polyurethane Paints
These paints are the most durable and offer top-quality protection to the epoxy. They are available in clear or pigmented options with abrasion and gloss retention. But they are comparatively expensive than the others and are a little difficult to apply.
Things To Consider While Mixing
The Effect Of Ambient Temperature
As we’ve already told you, temperature has a huge impact on epoxy surfaces, so you need to consider the weather while applying the resin.
A. Temperature below 68 degrees Fahrenheit:
Resin curing slows down significantly in this range. More amine reddening is also probable in such conditions, which takes quite a bit of effort for removal. Epoxy resin can also crystallize if the temperature drops lower than this.
B. Temperature higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit:
The mixture of hardener and resin reacts faster in this range. It also shortens the pot life as well as the curing period. Therefore, if you live in hot conditions, you should opt for epoxies with longer working periods.
Humidity During The Processing
Hardeners are sensitive to humid air, and hence, you must avoid opening the can if atmospheric moisture exceeds 65%. They will surely suffer qualitative damage if they aren’t used up immediately because more and more oxygen enters the container on frequent opening and closing.
Temperature Of The Epoxy Resin
Using cold epoxy can lead to bubbles or milky streaks in your final mixture, making your formula inconsistent. You won’t get your desired finish on the project if you use an inconsistent solution.
For dealing with this situation, make sure that you store your resin at room temperature for at least twenty-four hours before use. If you’re in a hurry, then you can place it in a warm water bath too to bring the temperature up.
Heating makes the resin flow easy but reduces the open time, and you’ll have to work quickly. A significant rise can even half the curing time and pot life of your mixture, so be careful about that.
Only a select few colors are compatible with epoxy resins, and you should not use any pigment that you find in your mix. Look for mica pigments, coloring dye, and concentrated formulas that are compatible with your resin, and introduce it only when you’re sure about it.
Tool For Mixing Epoxy Resin
Correct tools can make the whole mixing process easy and quick without having to strain your hands in the whisking. A flat spatula, similar to a paint stirrer, is the most effective tool for this purpose.
A wooden spatula is a cheaper variant, but it is available only for smaller quantities, so mixing sticks is the best alternative for medium quantities. It doesn’t allow the air bubbles to enter and can be used multiple times. Another thing worth noting is that the mixing tool should be straight to scrape off material from the sides of the container thoroughly.
Mixing DIfferent Epoxy Products
Resins and hardeners are specially formulated to adjust with each other and make a final epoxy resin of uniform consistency. Hence, different solutions, no matter if they are from the same brand or manufacturers, should not be mixed.
Duly follow the mixing instructions and ratio while making the resin solution using the right tools for best results.
Blending epoxy resin and hardener is an exothermic reaction, and the process produces a lot of heat. To avoid any accidents, you must take the following precautions:
- Do not exceed the upper limit of the maximum mixing amount
- Mix the components in large containers rather than higher ones to reduce heat build-up
- Use less reactive epoxy resins
Mixing epoxy resin sounds so easy, right? But it isn’t that easy when you bring in all the details.
After covering all the nuances and implications of the process, we’ve now reached the end of our guide on mixing epoxy resin. Did you find it helpful? We hope that you did! Creating a resin mixture can be a daunting task, but with our tips and tricks, you’ll get the hang of it.
That’s it for this guide, guys. We’ll see you next time! Take care.
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