Being such a new internet trend, epoxy resin and wooden objects have little information on the actually shelf-life of them. One of the most startling things about this beautiful type of work, is how expensive it is.
How long should I expect my epoxy resin table/bar/counter/etc to last? If the wood was properly dried, and all factors are taken into account, this type of project can last indefinitely. It would not be out of the ordinary to have a 20+ year life without any major repairs.
That being said, there are a TON of factors that can go into the life of an epoxy and wood piece. Because of the variables, you want to make sure to do your research and know how to avoid common pitfalls. Below I have outlined some of the most common issues I see with people making their epoxy and wood pieces that could lead to long-term breakdown.
Issues With Epoxy Resin
A lot of the major issue can be cause with the epoxy resin itself. Right off the bat, if you are purchasing cheap epoxy, it was likely not manufactured to its max potential. Always make sure you purchase epoxy that you know is from a reputable source and will last for years.
The next most common issue will be general user error. When you get here the most common one is improperly measuring the resin and hardener. Although most epoxy resins are a 1:1 ratio, it often differs depending on the brand. If you are measuring with small measuring tools, make sure to write down the count so you don’t lose track – an improper measure of the parts will lead to disastrous results. Even if you’re just a little off you could have issues with durability down the road.
The last big one for the epoxy resin, is going to be the temperature of the epoxy. This issue is twofold. First, you need to make sure you are allowing it to cure at the right temperature. Most epoxy resins want this to be between 75-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Many are going to say 70-90. This is super important, as the curing is the most sensitive part of the project. The second relates to heat it can withstand. Many epoxy resins are not high-heat compatible, allowing up to 150 Fahrenheit. Make sure in the sun, with hot food, etc… you aren’t allowing it to be raised to too high of a temperature (which can cause it to get softer).
Issues With Wood
Equally important, though not as many variables if you purchase correctly. The biggest problem here is going to be making sure you purchase wood that is completely dry. Air dried for 2-3 years, or kiln dried are going to give you the best results to not worry about moisture in the wood. If there is a little moisture, it could cause the wood to rot early on in the project, deeming the piece useless.
If you are POSITIVE that you have dry wood, then you want to assess your own climate. Wood is going to be the more variable piece of the project.
First lets talk moisture: If you live in a humid environment, or the piece will be subject to multiple climates throughout the year, make sure you prepare for that. The best way to do so is to seal the entire project with epoxy. Often, even when I’m working with pieces, I will only do the top. This will happen because usually you will be okay if it’s a dining table in a well-controlled room. However anywhere with high humidity, make sure you seal the entire thing, moisture is still able to get into the wood.
The other side of wood is going to be the preparation. There are two major things (minimum) that you want to do when prepping the wood.
1. Make sure you sand down all the surfaces that are going to be touching the epoxy resin, and remove all bark (assuming you are going for life-of-product).
2. Make sure you seal the wood before pouring. This is often overlooked. A seal could be a thin coat of epoxy resin (not allowed to dry fully) or some sort of sealant that is made for this.
Other Small Tip to a Lasting Project
Sunlight. That’s right, although many articles mention sunlight “yellowing” epoxy, it can do much more damage. Sunlight has been known to break down the bonds of epoxy resin, especially when it is attached to another surface. This means if you have something like a table in a natural-lit room, you may be in danger for a quick turnover time.
To assist in slowing this process, you can actually just use a UV resistant paint or spray, available on Amazon.
Quick List for Preparing an Epoxy Resin Project
- Keep the area VERY clean
- Sand down everything
- Seal the parts that will be bonding to epoxy resin
- In humid areas, seal any wood that is out in the open
- Make the pours slowly
- Get rid of all bubbles
- Keep the room temperature static
- Sand well and re-seal
- Use a UV Blocker
Tools Used on Epoxy Resin Projects
You would be surprised at how few tools are actually necessary! The bare minimum is mixing supplies, a sander, and a casting mold. If you are doing larger or more in-depth projects, I would definitely suggest quite a few more tools, which can be seen in my article here. Overall, don’t spend an arm and a leg, and don’t worry too much about price, it can be done affordably.