One of the worst feelings for DIY-ers, especially in the epoxy world, is messing up a major pour. Maybe you haven’t been there and you’re here because of something like weather damage or an accident. The information will be equally important to both situations.
How does one repair an entire coat of epoxy on a table? Here’s the process:
- Determine How Bad the Damage is, and Why It’s There
- Remove the Damaged Area
- Clean and Re-Seal the Table
- Make a Large Pour
- Finish and Polish
Although the method is straightforward, there are factors that can make it a lot easier. You are going to want to pay special attention to the following steps, as they will let you know exactly to what length you will have to go to fix your table.
Determine How Bad the Damage is, and Why It’s There
This is [probably] going to be the most important step in determining your work load. This is because you may only have damage to a part of it.
For instance, maybe you left it out in a hailstorm?
Maybe your son got upset during monopoly and flipped the table?
Dropped it during a move?
Good news in these and similar scenarios, it is likely only the top layer that was damaged. Even though there are dents and scratches all over the table, it can be a simpler fix than the next scenarios.
What if this is a new pour? Chances are, if you are on this post during a new pour, you got your ratio wrong and the epoxy is no good. Maybe it never dried fully, leaving it “sticky” all over. Maybe it didn’t seal well to the wood. Don’t feel bad about this alone – tons of people are having the same issue. Unfortunately, however, this means a complete overhaul of the epoxy on the table (and possibly some wood).
I do want to play out one last scenario. That is a “yellowing” of the epoxy, usually due to being in direct sunlight for a long time. Although most modern epoxy resins claim to be resistant, as far as I know there is no full-proof way to prevent it forever. Because of this, if it was an outdoor table and it is beginning (or badly has been) yellowing, unfortunately you need to treat it like a botched pour.
Now, there are plenty of other damages and problems, or even just desires to re-surface your table. The important part isn’t how it happened – it is how much you need to do to fix it.
Remove the Damaged Area
This is going to be the longest step (other than waiting for the epoxy to dry). This step will entirely depend on whether you need just the top coat or the entire thing re-done.
Removing Just the Top Coat:
You want to sand the top coat off. make sure that you sand as lot as the lowest bit of damage. Once you get close to finishing sanding down, you want to work your way up in grit. Ideally you can go up to 320 grit, as this will be smooth, but still help create the chemical bond for the next pour.
Removing All the Epoxy:
For large amounts or the entire thing, you want to do this in at least a two or three step process. Consider heating the epoxy (check what you used) as this may soften it up a bit.
Use a metal or plastic scraper, something like a handheld planer or a card scraper, and get off as much as you can without damaging the wood. The next thing you want to do is try alcohol: just look for 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. You can find this either on Amazon or at any store in the pharmacy section. Put it on a rag and scrub – this will help most epoxies come off. If you get close to, or even touching, the wood, you’re going to want to sand. Just as in the above step, work your way up to 240-320 grit.
Clean and Re-Seal the Table
Once you have all the epoxy removed that you need to, clean off the area. If it was just the top coat, this can be easily done with clean water and then just dried with a lint-free rag or paper towels. Make sure there is nothing left on the epoxy coat.
If you removed all the epoxy, you should be down to sanded wood. To clean this, you have a couple options. The quickest would be to use an air gun to make sure nothing is left on it. If you don’t have an air gun handy, you can lightly dampen a paper towel and wipe it clean. Make sure you allow this to dry fully!
Make a Large Pour
Thankfully, this will be the same for both types of repair. You are just going to make a pour the same way you would on any table. If you won’t want the entire surface of the table glossy like epoxy – just pour the desired area.
Some things to note about a pour:
- Make sure you have a dry surface!
- Water can very easily mess up an epoxy pour, don’t fall victim of this mistake but allowing the wood to dry fully!
- Spread it with a glove
- Most common epoxies are self-leveling, but for table-top or bar-top pours, you are going to want to spread it around to make sure it goes everywhere.
- If you are re-doing the entire top, make multiple pours
- Follow the instructions on your epoxy, but likely you will want to wait 3-5 hours after the first pour and then make the second.
- Make sure you get rid of the bubbles
- You don’t want to get caught
Finish and Polish
This step has a lot of potential to be not necessary. If you are pouring a bar-top over the entire project, the chances are high that your pour will be nice and not need any more work. If you have a small issue in your pour or fixing process, don’t redo the entire thing! Just check out this post on fixing minor damages to epoxy.
Now, if you poured a partial top, or have wood incorporated that isn’t fully covered, you’re going to want to follow this step. First, select a nice finish for your wood. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, mineral oils and plant oils both work well. Rub it on evenly, ideally using a buffing wheel, but if not then a rag should work fine. Next, pick out a furniture wax, this will also flow easier if buffed, but you can do it quickly in little circles with a rag as well. It’ll definitely help build up your arm muscles. Following this order should leave both the wood and epoxy looking super shiny and clean!
How to Best Protect My Epoxy Table?
If you went through all that, you definitely don’t want to have to do it too soon again. Here are some quick tips to help you not have to go through the pains too soon:
Apply a Second Coat
This goes for both wax and epoxy – it is never a bad idea to have extra protection. You want to make sure you don’t allow little things to cause permanent damage to the epoxy.
If It’s Outside, Cover It
As unfortunate as it is, I’m not away of any epoxy resin that is able to fully withstand UV tinting. Because of this, you want to make sure that if it’s a sunny area you keep it covered when not in use. This is also good advice for it if it’s rainy, snow, hail, etc… any weather is going to damage the epoxy more quickly.
Just recognize that if it’s an outdoor table, you will be redoing it or living with a slightly yellow tint at some point in the life of the table.
Keep It Out of Hight Heat
Epoxy can often only withstand up to 120-150 Fahrenheit. You want to be careful when placing food on it or in extremely hot areas of the world in direct sunlight.
For an almost exhaustive list or tips for epoxy protection, check out my post on it.
How to Repair Damage to a River Table?
One of the most popular types of tables for epoxy resin is the “river table”. This is where the epoxy is poured thick, all the way across the table, between two pieces of wood. This is one of the most beautiful and unique table ideas one can have.
Unfortunately, when it comes to major damage to these, there are few options to restore them to the beauty they once were. If it isn’t deep damage, you can follow the post for just a single coat. This would add just a clear coat over the rest and still allow most of the original beauty. If there was a mis-pour, you may be able to get the wood out if the epoxy is still a little loose or sticky. If you have UV damage or some serious damage, you can get creative, but likely it would be close to as cheap and less time consuming to just build another on.