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.