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!

4 tips on Bust-A-Bubble

123757

Bust-A-Bubble is a pump-bottle spray used to get surface bubbles out of table top epoxy. It can be an useful  tool, especially for someone without a heat gun, but as with everything, you need to look at a few tips from the pros:

  • It is recommended for thin pours where bubbles are close to the surface
  • A very light mist is all you want to spray for your table top; any more than that effects the epoxy.
  • We recommend spraying it as soon as your surface has been covered.
  • Don’t spray it onto a surface when another layer is to be poured, as it can effect curing.

Tech Tip: Let’s talk Catalyst

Catalyst is an essential element to most processes in our business. Without the catalyst, no chemical reaction takes place and you might as well just pour water over your fiberglass or table. You would think catalyst would be an easy product to work with, and sometimes you are right, but you have to follow the directions exactly. It’s not pretty when you don’t (trust me).

catalystMEK-P or Methyl Ethyl Keytone Peroxide, not to be confused with Methyl Ethyl Ketone, a solvent, MEK-P is one of the most common catalysts. MEK-P is used for polyster and vinylester style resins. It is very specific on ratios and requires the most attention.

Vinylesters require a hotter catalyst we sell, called Norox 925, sometimes referred to as “High-Point 90.” It’s a hotter catalyst that works better for the Vinylester. You will also see Vinylester requires a ratio of 2% by volume, as opposed to gelcoats and resin which are closer to 1.5%.

catalyst chart small

Gelcoat and Polyester resin, including Boatyard use a standard catalyst, or the 925 catalyst. These resins only require about 1.5% catalyst and are quite specific on the ratios, especially in hot weather. You will also use the same ratio’s for Polyester-based putty, like our OEM Super Poly Fill, or our gelcoat putty.

B.P.O. or Benzoyl Peroxide is a cream hardener that is used for most Auto Body and Bondo-like putties. It’s a bit easier and more forgiving on the mixture and comes in Red, White and Blue. The ratio is 1-1 oz tube per quart, or a 4 oz tube per gallon.

epoxyEpoxy activators are all proprietary, depending on the product. They range from a 1:1 ratio, like with our Table Top Epoxy, to our standard laminating epoxy allowing a 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1 and 5:1, allowing for different ratios that effect hardness and gel time. With different ratios, the higher the ratio, the quicker the pot time and the harder the epoxy.

 

With all these activators, sticking to the ratio is key, so if you were planning on eye-balling it, may I suggest picking up a couple of mixing buckets, or a squeeze bottle and take the guessing out of the equation.