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.

 

Tech Question: “Can I apply resin to foam?”

foam-blockMany of our customers look to make sculptures out of fiberglass and resin. Foam is a common material as it’s easy to carve and sand to your desired shape. But, can you put Polyester resin on the top of it? It’s a question we get asked constantly.

Your first step needs to be finding out what kind of foam it is. Certain types of foam have different temperature variations. Polyurethane foam, like the kinds we sell in 4’ x 8’ sheets offer different temperature variations from things like Polystyrene. Once you figure out which foam you have, you can figure out what you need to do.

With Polyurethane foam, it will easily withstand Polyester or Epoxy resin applied to the top of it without having to do anything special. We recommend scuffing the surface with some sandpaper to get the best bond, but once the standard surface prep is done, you can apply your gelcoat, resin or epoxy.Polyurethane foam

With Polystyrene or Styrofoam, you can’t directly apply Polyester or Epoxy directly to Styrofoam, as it will melt the foam. Fortunately, we have a couple of products you can use to still make it work. The first product is an FGCI product called Styrocoat that uses a standard epoxy activator and will provide a protective shell over the Styrofoam. The other product is made by Duratec and is called Styro-Shield. Styro-Shield is a Polyester-based product that uses MEK-P and will provide a protective coating once hard.

So, no matter what kind of foam you use, we have a way to make your fiberglass mold or fiberglass-based product. Don’t forget that if you have questions, we are here to help! Give us a call at 1-800-272-7890, or e-mail us or contact us through Facebook or Twitter!

8 Solvents for Cleaning Up your next Job

solventA major part of our business here at FGCI is dedicated to solvents. Solvents are used for many things, but especially for cleanup. When you finish a project, you want to be able to clean up your mess, right? Everything from cleaning spray guns and brushes to wiping down the project afterwards, solvents are an important part of your project process. When you start a project, you want to make sure you pick up something to clean up, but which one works best? Let’s look!

Acetone

Acetone is a necessity for cleaning up polyester resins and gelcoats. Acetone is also a very important step in treating your part before spraying gelcoat, as it helps get any and all oils off the part to avoid blemishes. This is probably the best overall cleaner.

Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer Thinner is a must for removing oils. You will see a lot of mechanics use this for parts cleaning and washing as it is great for removing a lot of the grease left by engines. You will also see this product offered in different degrees of purity, from the wash-grade to the medium to the high-grade.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Our Isopropyl Alcohol is 99% water free. This product is great for cleaning epoxy, especially for wiping down a new epoxy bar-top.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral Spirits are a tried and true paint cleaner you will see used by anyone painting a polyurethane or enamel paint as it breaks down the paint very quickly.

Styrene

Styrene is a common solution found in resins and gelcoats, sometimes called ‘wax.’ Styrene is commonly used to thin down resin to allow it to seep into wood easier. We don’t recommend using it to thin gelcoat, however.

Toluene

Toluene is a great multi-use product as it’s great for cleaning epoxy, but it also works for cleaning paint as well. Toluene is mainly used for cleaning up silicone and it does a great job on 5200.

T-12

T-12 is a very volatile solvent used mainly for cleaning epoxies. This solvent dries extremely quickly, but you will see it used frequently for cleaning brushes between uses.

Xylene

Xylene is used mainly as a thinner for enamels. It can also be used for cleanup for paints as well.

The most important thing to remember with all of these solvents is that they all require proper protection. Gloves and some sort of clothing protection would be the least you can do. You may also consider respirators and eye protection as well. You also want to remember that all of this material is flammable, so be cautious and store it properly.

6 Tips on FGCI Rot Stop Epoxy

 

rot stop
Rot Stop is available in 1/2 gallon and gallon containers.

 

Here at FGCI, we have many different kinds of epoxy. Today, we are going to look at a different one that is very popular; Rot Stop!

Rot Stop is a 2-part epoxy that is 1:1 ratio and is very simple to mix. The coverage is similar to other epoxies, and like other epoxies, the product does vary in thickness based on temperature. The advantage to Rot Stop is it is NOT affected by moisture, making it excellent for deck or flooring and cracking repair, especially moisture damage.

casting_resin_coverage

Let’s look at a few different tips for the product that will help you with your Rot Stop project.

  1. Mix thoroughly for 2 minutes, ensuring it is properly mixed. It is ok to whip with a stir stick or even a drill mixer, as air bubbles aren’t a concern like they are with casting resin or table top. Once mixed, transfer to a clean, unused container and mix for one more minute. This will ensure any unmixed material will be properly mixed.
  2. We generally recommend mixing only a quart at a time, as you only have about a 12 minute working time at 70 degrees, and about 8 minutes at 90 degrees.
  3. Again, depending on how hot it is that day, you can walk on it in as little as 3-4 hours, if it’s during the summer, down at 70 degrees, however, you will want to give it 5-6 hours before allowing any traffic.
  4. At 70 degrees or higher, the material should self-level almost immediately; anything cooler than that, however, will take some time to level as the material gets thicker.
  5. Generally, one coat is all that is needed, but for tough, industrial jobs, you can add a second coat.
  6. Use Toluene to cleanup any tools and surfaces before the mixture cures.

Adhesives – a look at 5 different products

At FGCI, we carry many, many products to help everyone from the huge manufacturer down to the weekend warrior. We cater to everyone in-between with all of our products, and adhesives are no different. If you need something to stick to something else, we have many different options to help you. Considering picking the right product is so important, let’s go over some of our bigger sellers so you will know what is right for you.

100_2051ASI Adhesive cartridges

ASI cartridges offer two sizes; 490ml cartridges and 50ml cartridges. The two sizes allow for multiple kinds of jobs and the adhesive adheres to most surfaces, with the exception being Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC). The 50ml cartridges have a very affordable dispensing gun and offer a very good ease of use. With the cartridges, you will need to purchase the dispensing gun and the mixing tips, which may be a bit pricey to start, but the results make up for the cost. You have working times from 10 minutes all the way up to 40 minutes. With the ease of use, and the in-expensive adhesives, ASI is always a top-seller.

We also carry a line of 2 oz bottles of adhesive that mix in the tube and have a near-instant cure-time.

PlioGrip

100_2047We carry Pliogrip in 490ml cartridges and the product offers quick working times of 5-8 minutes, up to a 24 minute working time. The product uses a different mixing tip that works very well and their bonding is extremely good. Like the ASI product, you need to purchase a dispensing gun and mixing tips. The dispensing gun can be a bit pricey, but in this case, you get what you pay for, in a very dependable, consistent product.

 

Tensorgrip

100_2053This aerosol spray adhesive is great for upholstery or interiors. We offer the product in the standard aerosol can in clear and red, which is great for standard consumers, but this product also caters to the large manufacturer and offers a 22 liter tank that fits on a backpack rig that makes things easy for bulk jobs, and allows for mobility.

 

Superbond Epoxy

superbond-photoSuperbond is a two-part, 1:1 epoxy adhesive that has a Vaseline consistency. The product adheres to nearly everything and is a favorite among wood-workers. It’s offered in a fast curing agent, giving 8-15 minutes of working time; a medium, giving 20-30 minutes and a standard, offering 30-45 minutes. SuperBond is offered in sizes from ½-pint tubs all the way to 5-gallon pails.

 

 

Loctite

100_2054We carry a wide range of Loctite super-glue bottles for the hobbiest that will adhere to anything from plastics to fiberglass.

This is just a sample of our adhesives. If you need something bonded well, we can match your job to the right product.