The definitive How-To on Table Top Epoxy

table top kit1One of our most popular products is our Cyrstal Clear Table Top Epoxy. This two-part epoxy is not only crystal clear, but UV Resistant and is great for many kinds of projects from River Rock to castings to topping a bar or table. The product has many uses and is relatively easy to use, but there are a few tip and secrets that will give you better results, and an easier experience.

The first step of any resin product is always the surface preparation. You will want to start by sanding the surface down. Once it has been lightly sanded, you do need to make sure it’s completely clean and oil free before applying. Be sure to wipe down the surface with Isopropyl Alcohol before starting. If you are using this product on wood, be sure the wood is completely dry, or it will give off moisture and cloud the coating.

Epoxies are extremely sensitive to temperature and our Table Top is no different. If your environment is under 60 degrees, the epoxy will likely not cure out properly. Also, if the temperature is over 90, you will find an extremely quick working time. One thing our technicians always recommend is setting the product in warm water for a half hour to get the epoxy warm. You will find it flows better and makes getting rid of air bubbles much easier.

Fiberglass Coatings Crystal Clear Table Top Epoxy is a 1:1 ratio mixture. The most important part of this whole process is getting the two parts mixed properly before application.

To start, be sure to have proper protection, like an apron, gloves, a face mask and safety glasses. Once you have the proper protection have two separate mix and measure cups and pour each mixture separately and exactly the same. Do not pour more than you need, as whatever you mix will get hard and won’t be reusable. From there, pour the two mixtures into a third cup, giving you the most accurate mixture. Be sure to pour as close together as you can, as air bubbles are your enemy here.

After scraping the cups and getting the mixture out comes the toughest part; stirring. Many people want to whip it like a custard or pudding. While those things are delicious, it does add air to your mixture, meaning cloudiness and air bubbles you may not be able to get out. So, stir the mixture slowly for a full 3 minutes. Set a timer, if you need to, but do not skimp on the timing. As you stir, you should see the mixture go from cloudy to crystal clear, with hopefully little to no air bubbles.

Once the two components have been thoroughly mixed, it’s time to apply the product. You need to remember you have a fairly small working time, depending on the temperature. At 70 degrees, you have roughly 20 minutes before it starts to really get hard, but at 90 degrees, your working times is a bit less than 10 minutes. When applying, you pour the syrup-like liquid on to your surface and spread the liquid evenly over the surface. I like to just put a glove on my hand and spread it that way, but you can use a brush if you choose.

table1

Once the product has been leveled, it will continue to self-level to a point, but it will need help. Be sure to allow it to drip down the sides, or if you build a dam, ensure it doesn’t leak.

Now, you want to get the air bubbles out. If you find most of your air bubbles are on the surface, you are in luck. Our Bust-a-Bubble spray is great for drawing them up and out. Simply give a light spray to the product and watch the bubble go away. Do not let the Bust-a-Bubble pool; you are only looking for one or two spritzes to do the trick. Bust-a-Bubble works best with the thicker pours. If your project is a thin film, using too much will slow or stop the curing.

If you have bigger, deeper bubbles, you will need to try something different. The best thing is generally a heat gun. Adding heat to the mixture thins the epoxy, allowing the bubble to float to the surface and pop. Some people will also use a toothpick to pop the bubbles. I’ve found, for deep bubbles, a combination of the two works great.

The thinner the mixture, the longer it will start to get tacky. If the pour is fairly thick, it will get hard in about an hour, with a complete cure coming in about 24 hours. If it’s a thin pour, since there is very little heat given off, you will see a complete cure taking closer to 48 hours.

Multiple pours are absolutely fine with Table Top Epoxy. You want to wait until the product is tacky and setup before applying your next coat. As with before, be sure to apply slowly to not get air bubbles and keep applying until you achieve the thickness you need. If you do let it completely cure, you will need to sand the product down to 220 grit, wash the product with soap and water and re-clean with Isopropyl Alcohol before applying a new coat, so it’s best to apply while still tacky.

Remember that while our Table Top has a better UV protection than the rest, it doesn’t mean it’s meant for something with direct sunlight. We recommend keeping it out of the direct sunlight to avoid yellowing.

Another benefit of using Table Top is how easy it is to repair. If you have scratches or dings on your table, you can always lightly sand the surface and add another layer to give it that new table finish. Just be sure to clean your surface again before applying that new coat.

Table Top can also be tinted or pigmented. We sell many colors you can add to the mix to change the color, from a see-through color, to a dense color. You will find very little pigment goes a long way. Adding too much pigment can slow or stop curing, so a little dab will do ya’.

After your table is done, I recommend adding a UV Polymer wax to your covering to add even more UV protection and also bring out the shine. We sell a Presta brand that works very well!

So, there you go! Everything you needed to know about Table Top. Easy, right? If you have questions, remember, we have technicians that are available to answer any other questions you have, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Tips on How to get Fiberglass out of You

hand washWe have all been there. At one point in our lives; we have touched or ground or moved fiberglass. Maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s a hobby, maybe you just accidentally brushed against it in our showroom. Whatever the case may be, we have all experienced the feeling. First the itching, then the splinter-like feeling and no matter how hard you scratch, it gets worse. That’s right, I’m talking about the dreaded fiberglass feeling. So, we went and asked some of our favorite experts how they get fiberglass out at the end of the day and we are posting some of the top tips. If you have one that’s not on here, please share it. Someone one day will thank you!

Tip #1 Baby Powder

Baby powder is good for many things. This product is great for rubbing on a fiberglassed area of your body and removing the agitation. The even better solution is to cover possibly exposed parts of your body with baby powder before you work. Our experts say it covers your pores and prevents glass from getting in. Given how often they work with raw fiberglass, they have to know what they are talking about.

Tip #2 Duct Tape

I know what you are thinking, and no, my name isn’t MacGyver. Duct Tape is useful for a lot of things. My dad always told me to take Duct Tape and fold it back on itself and gently pat the irritated area. The tape pulls out the fiberglass with each pat. While you may lose a bit of arm hair, you won’t have to deal with that irritation anymore, which is worth it.

Bonus Tip: Some people use a lint roller. In my experience, it doesn’t get the big stuff, but if you think it maybe hasn’t gotten in your skin yet, this may be a great way to get it off of you.

Tip #3 Cold Water

Closing the pores seems to be the key. Washing down with cold water is a popular option. Our experts say not to scrub, just simply wash down the infected area a few times, and the colder the water, the better. Several people have said they add a bit of dish soap, as well, to ensure the fibers slide out.

Tip # 4 Baby Oil 

This is another one where coating your skin with this stuff ahead of time can make all the difference, but even after it’s affected, baby oil can soothe the irritation.

Tip # 5 Epson Salt Hot Bath

I’ve heard good and bad from this one. This, to me, sounds like it would sting a bit from the infected area, but it could be a great way of letting the fiberglass fall out. Now, sitting in the tub with an adult beverage? Now we are talking!

Tip #6 Tweezers

This one is just plain no fun. It is very effective, especially if you have one or two big pieces. Using a flashlight and a magnifying glass will make it even easier, but in the end, you’re still tweezing your skin, which is annoying. I guess having fiberglass in your skin is more annoying.

Tip #7 Prevention is the key

We have mentioned on this blog several times the perks of wearing your PPE’s. Things like paper suits, and dust masks and eye protection can save a good amount of irritation and pain. So, the one step I know will work is covering up ahead of time.

 

So, if you have a solution that you didn’t see on here that you know works, or one of the solutions we listed you use, let us know in the comments!

5 Tips on how to use Brushable Gelcoat

Brushable gel

Brushable Gelcoat is a specially formulated product that is made to be applied like paint and eliminate the need for spray equipment. It has excellent leveling, Water/Osmosis resistance, UV light Stability, great Gloss Retention and a fantastic long-term durability. It comes in many different colors and can be bought online or in our stores! So, let’s talk about some tips on how to get the most out of the Brushable Gelcoat.

  1. Don’t add Patch Booster or Sanding Aid! You heard that right, you don’t need to add sanding aid to Brushable gelcoat to have it dry tack free! The self-leveling technology added doesn’t require any additional products or additives.
  2. Proper gelcoat application requires you apply your coats about 15-20 mils thick,
    mil-gauge-2
    Mil Gauge

    using a mil gauge.

  3. Allow the gelcoat to cure overnight and then lightly sand it and buff it for an outstanding shine!
  4. Use Acetone for your cleanup. Just like other Polyester-based products, Acetone is the best cleanup material!
  5. The most important step: Adding the proper amount of Catalyst. We recommend 1.5%-2% Catalyst ratio. After adding the catalyst, you will want to mix for two minutes, preferably with a mechanical agitator (drill mixer). For your reference, here is the catalyst chart so you know exactly how much catalyst you need.

BONUS TIP: In the hot Florida weather, working time is tough for any gelcoat. So our FGCI Pro Tip is to chill the gelcoat down to 70 degrees before mixing. This way you can get a bit longer working time.

 

DID YOU KNOW: That FGCI Colormatches gelcoat? We can make as little as a gallon to nearly any sample you have. Call us for details!

  1. catalyst-chart-copy

Tech Question: “Can I Gelcoat or Epoxy in the Cold?”

cold

I woke up this morning to the outside being much colder than my warm bed. It hurt to get out of bed and touch the tile floor. When I got going, I threw an extra jacket on and bundled up my daughter before heading out the door. It’s December, and this kind of weather is expected, and even welcomed in Florida. As hard as it is to get up and going, it can be even harder to go and gelcoat or work with Epoxy.

Businesses don’t stop just because it gets cold, and that is even truer in Florida. So, we get a lot of calls from people looking to make a gelcoat repair, apply a layer of epoxy or even laminate a pool or boat in the cold. “Will this work in the cold?”

With Epoxies, they are very sensitive to temperature. Anything 50 degrees and below will not work. You will also notice them very thick and very slow to cure out. It is problematic for Clear Casting and Table Top because the material is so thick, those bubbles can work their way to the surface.

 

drum-heater
Our Drum Heaters.

Gelcoat has the same magic number; 50 degrees. Anything below 50 degrees and the gelcoat will not cure. The farther away you get from 70 degrees, the longer it takes to cure; meaning at 55 degrees, you could be looking at days before it gets hard.

 

So, what do you do? The only answer is you need to add heat. Everyone has tips and tricks they’ve picked up on how to work through the cold. Our techs recommend setting the epoxy in a bucket of warm water for a half hour. We also sell drum and pail heaters that will keep your material warm. For small spaces, you will want to apply heat through a heat gun as well. I’ve also seen pool and boat manufacturers put a heater behind the plug to ensure the part is toasty warm before working.

Whatever the technique, you will need some heat, because like me on an early, cold December morning, gelcoats don’t like the cold.