If you’re wondering how to achieve those beautiful colors that you’ve seen in epoxy resin products, we’ve got some awesome news. It’s really easy to dye epoxy resin and make it whatever color you want. We can show you how to take a professional dye or a household item and change the color of your epoxy, and that’s what we’re going to do.
Our how-to dye epoxy resin: a step-by-step guide contains a 7-step process for dying epoxy resin using professional epoxy tints, inks or paints, a 5-step process for dying epoxy resin using household items, as well as guides to getting the best colors, the three professional tint choices, the range of household items that you can use and the things to avoid using as dyes.
A Quick Introduction To Epoxy Resin
Epoxy resin is a two-part substance – a resin and a hardener – that when the two parts are mixed, it undergoes a thermosetting exothermic (i.e. it releases heat) reaction to form a hard, durable, plastic surface.
The finished product is traditionally clear, but it is possible to add dyes to the resin to achieve other colored effects.
How To Dye Epoxy Resin: A Step-By-Step Guide
Below is every step you could need in order to dye epoxy resin. While there are many traditional and popular methods – like using mica powder – we decided to make sure to cover every method we could think of to provide you an ultimate resource. There is a great chance you won’t need anything extra to dye your resin, unless you want a specific color.
If you want our top recommendations for each type of epoxy resin dye – see our recommended products page.
How To Dye Epoxy Resin Using Professional Epoxy Tints, Inks or Paints
In the majority of cases, particularly if you want very consistent results, you’re going to end up dying your epoxy with a professional epoxy tint, ink or paint and this is a 6 step process:
- Sourcing the tint to be used in the dyeing process
- Mixing the epoxy and ensuring that it’s fit for purpose
- Testing the initial coloring to ensure that you get the strength of color you want
- Mixing the colorant with the epoxy on a larger scale
- Stirring the colorant and epoxy and avoiding future problems
- Changing the amount of colorant if necessary because the process hasn’t delivered the results you wanted
- Making sure that this process is easy to repeat in the future in case you need to do it again
So, it’s not a very complicated job and we’re here to walk you through each of those steps so that you can easily make your own dyed epoxy resin in a few minutes!
Buy Your Tint (Must Be For Epoxy Resin)
It’s very important when you decide on a tint or pigment for resin and you go and purchase it from a store that it is actually intended to color resin. There are an enormous number of tints, oils, inks, etc. out there that simply aren’t suitable for the task.
Why not? Because the molecules of those tints will not bond well with the resin and they give weak and often distorted colors. Normally, people want a nice color finish when they dye their resin – so it’s always a good idea to start with the best possible chance of a good result.
You should be able to find tints for resin on Amazon, at other stores online or out there in the real world at a crafting shop or possibly even your local hardware store.
Mix The Epoxy
You can’t dye the resin until it’s been mixed. That is, you’ve combined the two halves of your epoxy (the resin and the hardener) and thoroughly mixed them.
We recommend using a two container approach to mixing resin. Mix the resin in one container for 3 minutes and then transfer it to the second container and mix for another 3 minutes. Most resin is mixed in a 1:1 ratio (that is equal parts resin and hardener) but some resins have different ratios, always check the bottle before you mix your resin.
We’d strongly suggest that you wear gloves and protective eyewear whenever you work with resin. This just keeps your eyes and skin safe. If you’re working with large quantities of resin – make sure that the space is well-ventilated and, if necessary, use a respirator.
Time To Test The Tint
The best way to decide whether the tint is working and how much tint to use is to test it before you pour it into the main body of resin. You can’t un-tint resin – so, if you skip this stage and you don’t like the results, you’ll have to throw away the resin and start again. That’s an expensive mistake to make.
So, take a 1-fluid ounce (that’s 30 ml) cup with a graduating measuring scale on it and place a small amount of resin in it – note your starting volume of resin. Then add a small amount of color and mix – keep adding a little more color at a time until you have the right color.
Then note the final volume of resin with color. You can now calculate what percentage of color you need to use in your resin. This should be between 2% and 6%. Less than that and it’s unlikely to color properly and more than that and your resin won’t bond properly because there will be too much color in it.
Get Out The Scales And Add The Color To Your Epoxy
As we said in the last section, if you want to make sure that your resin is right – you need colorant that makes up roughly 2-6% of the mixture.
We’d recommend placing the resin on a scale and then adding the amount of tint you need. You can do 2-6% by weight as it’s roughly equivalent to 2-6% by volume.
You should stir the epoxy resin as you add the tint with a paint stirrer. Don’t stir too fast or you may add bubbles but do stir thoroughly.
This process doesn’t need to be rushed but you must keep an eye on the time because you don’t want the resin to set in the container, either.
Stir Thoroughly Without Tainting The Resin With Bubbles
The stirring action should take about 1 minute in total. Again, try to keep bubbles out of the mix – if you do find bubbles try to move them to the top of the mixture and then pop them with a toothpick.
Bubbles, if left in your resin, will cause the resin to cure improperly and the final product can be brittle and easy to break.
Your resin should be smooth and look the way you want it to look when it’s applied by the time you’ve stirred it enough.
Final Adjustments To The Color
Just check the color on a test piece of material – if it’s not looking the way that you wanted it to, then you still have time to put some more colorant into your mix and stir it up all over again.
If, on the other hand, it’s too dark – you need to start again and this time, add less colorant.
If your colorant just won’t give the right result when using 2-6% by weight. You may need to find a different colorant. You can’t use more than 6% without, potentially, ruining the finished epoxy.
Repeat As Needed (Write Down Your Results)
If you keep a note of the results as you go – it’s very easy for you to repeat this process whenever you want. Just get the same epoxy and the same colorant and weigh out as much as you need in proportion to the previous mix.
How To Dye Epoxy Resin Using Household Items
If you’re feeling courageous, you can also dye your epoxy with a range of household items that have their own pigments. These can be much cheaper than epoxy tints and, in some cases, you can even get spectacular results.
Our process for this is very similar to the previous process:
- Mix the epoxy thoroughly
- Set up a test batch to try and get the right color and/or texture
- Understanding how to work with powdered dyes
- Understanding how to work with liquid dyes
- Making a full batch based on the ratios from the test
- Make sure you can repeat the process as necessary in the future
So, let’s take a look at this process in more detail:
Mix The Epoxy
You will need to mix the epoxy before you start experimenting with household dyes. Be aware that this process can be a lot more complicated than the use of manufactured dyes and you should expect some failures: sometimes the epoxy won’t hold the color, will become disrupted by it and you may even find that the color is just downright unpleasant.
Again, whenever you mix epoxy – it’s a good idea to wear some safety goggles and some gloves. We’d prefer that you kept your eyesight and didn’t end up with epoxy marks all over your skin too. These items are cheap and easy to obtain online or at a hardware store. Never go without them when working with chemicals of any kind.
You should check the instructions on your resin but the usual mix ratio of 1:1 (epoxy resin: hardener) should be right. Once you’re certain you have the right ratio – you can mix them up and move on.
Time To Test The Colorant
Once again, you’re going to want to test that colorant before you commit to using it in your epoxy. So, grab a little marked measuring cup (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) and you can add some resin to that.
If you’re wondering where to get these little cups at a cost-effective rate – we get most of ours from cough mixture. You can also talk to your local pharmacist about buying the cups in bulk if you do this a lot.
It’s always easier to work when you have the measurements marked on the side because then it makes working out the proportion of epoxy to colorant very straightforward.
The Thing About Powdered Pigments
Using powders to dye your resin is something of a gamble. The upside is that powder does not have to just provide color, but it can also give a somewhat grainy texture to the finish which can be very nice on some projects.
However, it’s also possible that the powder may become clumpy or unattractive in the resin. You also need to be very careful with how much powder you use as it is more likely to interfere with the bonding of the epoxy.
You never use powder to color epoxy when your chief objective is to create a very smooth finish as it won’t turn out that way.
The most common choice for a powder dye is the pepper Paprika. It looks really nice in a reddish-orange hue and the grain is quite gentle. However, you can experiment with almost any powder in your kitchen or even in your beauty cabinet and see what you can whip up.
The Thing About Liquid Pigments
As you might expect – liquid pigments are easier to work with because they blend very easily into the epoxy when you are mixing them.
As a general rule, there aren’t many liquids that you shouldn’t try with epoxy (though we have listed some exceptions at the end of this article) and the sky’s the limit when it comes to using your imagination to create the colors you want.
You can even try to blend more than one liquid if you want to create unusual colors. Just remember to test the process first because this can get expensive if your combinations turn out a bit off-color.
The most common choices for liquid pigments for epoxy resin are nail polish (see why we think this is a bad idea at the end) and alcohol-based inks. Both of which you ought to easily find lying around in most homes.
Get The Scales And Add The Colorant
Now, we’re back to where we were with the professional pigments – adding the colorant to the epoxy on the scales.
Once again, the rule is no more than 2-6% of colorant to epoxy. The more colorant that you use, particularly with powdered colorants – the more likely it is that the final product won’t be as strong as you wanted it to be.
So, keep an eye on the scale and stir it for about a minute or so. You want to ensure that there are no bubbles in the final epoxy mix to avoid problems when curing.
Repeat As Needed
If you’re happy with the way things turn out, it’s always a good idea to make a note of the ratios of colorant to epoxy that you used – so you can do it again in the future. It may also help you work out ratios for other substances when you’re feeling creative and adventurous and willing to try another new pigment.
How To Apply Colored Epoxy To Your Projects
Working with colored epoxy is very similar to working with epoxy as you would normally, however, it’s important to remember that there is an increased amount of preparation time for the colored epoxy and this eats into the time before which you must pour the epoxy.
As long as you respect that time difference, you should have no particular issues working with colored epoxy at all.
It’s also a good idea to pay extra attention cover things that you don’t want the epoxy to get onto when using a colored epoxy – you might be able to ignore splash of clear-finished epoxy on something else, you can’t ignore a bright red epoxy streak so easily.
Finally, it’s a good idea to just test a little spot before applying the colored epoxy to the surface – to ensure that the color looks as good as you think it should.
Three Tips For Better Colors With Epoxy Resin
It’s not hard to get good colors with epoxy resin but we have found that some people really struggle and we’d like to help make sure that your epoxy turns out as good as possible, so here are our 3 tips that can help you get better colors in your resin.
- Keep the color to a minimum
- Keep the colorant dry
- Epoxy is not polyurethane
Keep The Color To A Minimum
A lot of people want to go heavy on their color because it feels “right” somehow, unfortunately – it doesn’t really work that way. Stick to the 2-6% ratio wherever possible and err on the lower side because the more moisture that ends up in your resin – the more problems you’re going to have when the resin cures.
Keep The Colorant As Dry As You Can
This is similar to the last tip, but don’t add water or dilute your colorant before you add it to the epoxy – just use less of the colorant. This will reduce water levels in the epoxy and should help to prevent those horrible bubbles which can cause problems later.
Don’t Assume Other Resins Work The Same Way
Epoxy is not polyurethane and vice-versa. What works for one is almost guaranteed not to work for the other. So, don’t take something you’ve done before with polyurethane and try to translate it to working with epoxy – that’s a recipe for disaster before you’ve even begun.
The Three Professional Tints For Epoxy Resin
There are three main options that you’ll be offered for dyeing epoxy resin when you visit a hardware store or craft shop and they are:
- Acrylic Pains
- Alcohol Inks
- Resin Tints
Our recommendation is almost always to opt for the resin tints. We’ll explain the strengths and weaknesses of each option so that you can better understand why we have a preference.
A lot of people like acrylic as a tint for their epoxy resin and we can completely understand their thinking. Acrylic paints are very cheap and they’re available in nearly every art and hardware store in the country – so you won’t need to spend much time out looking for acrylics to dye your resin with.
However, we have some issues with acrylic paint too. It’s a plastic with its own matte finish. This can damage the finish of the epoxy and it loses its glossy sheen. We know that there are a lot of different colors and hues of acrylic paint too but many of them don’t seem to look quite right in resin.
It’s certainly worth a try if you have some laying around the workshop but we wouldn’t buy acrylic paints as our first choice of dye.
There’s no doubt that alcohol inks mix with epoxy resin much better than acrylic paints do. In fact, they provide rich saturated shades that we really like. However, that’s not to say there are no issues when you work with alcohol inks too.
Firstly, alcohol may compromise the toxicity of your resin. We’re not saying that it will, but it may. That’s because alcohol is a solvent that may react with part of the resin blend.
Then secondly, alcohol is flammable when you work with it. It won’t be, of course, once the resin has cured but up until that point – it is something of a fire risk.
You cannot use ResinTint by itself for anything, it’s designed to bind with epoxy and if you pour it out by itself – it will just runoff.
It’s completely non-toxic in the finished resin and it’s not at all flammable at any point during the preparation process.
The Home Colorants Which Can Work With Epoxy Resin
There are a ton of products that you have laying around the house that can produce excellent colors in epoxy resin.
Powders (Eyeshadows, Micas, etc.)
You can always go through your old makeup drawer and see what you can find to turn into dyes. Powdered products can produce very good results.
Who wouldn’t want some bright sparkly epoxy finishes? Well, us, probably but if you’re not us – then you might, and the good news is that you can. Glitter and epoxy work really well together.
As we mentioned earlier, Paprika is very popular as a dye for epoxy but there’s no reason that you shouldn’t use any other powdered spice as a dye.
Good old sidewalk chalk can be a great substance to dye with – though you will need to pulverize it into powder before you add it to the epoxy.
Don’t add water, turn the paints into powder and throw them into the epoxy and you can get some lovely, gentle color results with them.
The Things To Avoid When Working With Epoxy Resin
There are some things that simply don’t work well with epoxy resin and we’d recommend that you avoid them if possible. However, we would note that a lot of people seem to like nail polish for their resin colorant even though we’ve never had great results with it.
Oil paints may seem like an obvious choice for a colorant, after all, they’re so bright and beautiful, right? Well, the problem is that epoxy does not react well to any kind of oil (you can’t apply it to oily wood, either) and when you mix the two together, you don’t get a lovely colored epoxy – you get a horrible blobby mess which you can’t use for anything at all.
As we said, a lot of people do use nail polish and we even mentioned it in our household items section, but we find it turns into a sort of amber looking finish and not a very attractive one at that. We might trap insects in it, but we wouldn’t use it in our projects.
Latex is an odd one, we don’t know why it won’t work well with resin, but it simply doesn’t. If you add it to resin it turns into a sort of stringy plastic. It’s just not worth your effort.
We hope that our how to dye epoxy resin: a step-by-step guide has helped you to understand how easy the process of dying epoxy resin can be. As long as you work through each step carefully – you can test the dye and then the finished product to be certain of getting the results that you want.