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.

Are you getting everything you need for your purchase?

One of the top problems we talk to customers about is making sure they get everything they need the first time for their project. It doesn’t sound as crucial for people who live mere minutes from one of our two locations, but it can be, and for people who are hours away, or even across the country, it becomes a necessity. With that in mind, let’s go over some items that are as neglected as batteries on Christmas morning.

Catalyst – Generally, MEK-P is the most neglected product. MEK-P catalyst is 124809essential for all resin and gelcoat; it’s what makes the product hard and it is a requirement that, unless you are ordering a kit, is not included. Make sure you go by the catalyst chart to find out how much you need. MEK-P comes in 1 oz, 2 oz, 8 oz, pint, quart and gallon jugs.

Brushable gel

 

Brushes or rollers – I can’t tell you how often people get home and get ready to mix their gelcoat or resin or epoxy and stop and wonder how they are going to apply it. For rollers, you want to make sure they are Phenolic roller covers or they will break up while rolling on the gelcoat and resin. With brushes, you can use our Chip brushes, or even our higher-end Glasskoter brushes.

Mixing buckets – Most problems from gelcoat or even epoxy come from either in-proper measuring or in-proper mixing. Many people (including me) go with the tried and true ‘eyeball method’ of measuring. The problem is epoxy and gelcoat are both very specific and very unforgiving on their measurements. If you aren’t exact, you can have a problem. Also remember; a $2 mixing bucket is way cheaper than throwing the product away and re-buying it because it didn’t harden properly. We sell mix and measure buckets perfect for mixing (and measuring) with measurement lines on the side in pint, quart, 2-1/2 quart and 5-quart sizes. For catalyst, we sell measuring cups, and my favorite, a squeeze bottle for quick, easy measuring.

Safety equipment – We’ve already talked a bit about safety equipment here, but it’s surprising how few people use gloves. Gloves are a vital part to a persons protection and it’s a cheap, easy purchase. A box of gloves is as inexpensive as $6.07 for a box of 100, so pick them up and they will last you a few projects.

solventSolvents for cleanup – Cleanup is one that almost always overlooked until the project is finished and the mess has been made. Gelcoat is not like paint, where you can use a damp rag; for gelcoat and resin, you will want to use Acetone for your cleanup needs. For epoxies, you will want to use T-12 and for paints, you will want to use mineral spirits to get the residue up. Just remember, with all solvents to be careful how and where you use them as they are harsh and can damage certain surfaces (like wood floors…don’t ask).

So, next time you need a project and you are at the showroom, or on our website, remember to get everything you need so your project can turn out amazing.

5 Tips on Various Fiberglass Coatings Solvents

1. Acetone is good for cleaning polyesters, but not epoxies.

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2. Lacquer Thinner tends to be a good solvent for cleaning surfaces to remove wax and oils.

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3. Isopropyl Alcohol 99% (water free) is a mild solvent that is recommended when using Epoxy Table Top Resin and cleaning new epoxy surfaces.

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4. Mineral Spirits works well with paint and polyurethane enamel.

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5. Styrene reduces polyester, iso and vinyl ester resins for better wood penetration.

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