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!

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.