Each time I make a new piece of furniture with epoxy, I tend to need to touch it up in some way to perfect the aesthetic. This even happens with new and old pieces where there is damage from moving, regular use, or accidents.
How exactly do you repair minor damage to epoxy? In short:
- Clean and Inspect the Area Thoroughly
- Sand Down the Imperfection
- Clean it Again
- Fill and Level the Patch With New Epoxy
- Allow it to Dry
- Re-Sand and Polish
As simple as this may sound, there are actually quite a few things to consider. Carefully considering and evaluating each aspect of your repair will help you determine, change, and even cut out some of the steps.
Clean and Inspect the Area Thoroughly
The first thing you need to do with any (and all) imperfections on the surface of your epoxy is to clean them and see the extent of the damage. If it is major damage that needs repair, you may need to redo the entire surface of your piece. For major damage, check the bottom of the article for useful tips. If not, great! Identify the key areas that you are going to work on.
Sand Down the Imperfection
You’re going to want to sand down your spot with a pretty fine sand paper. I will often use 240 grit. You actually don’t want to go too high (keep it under 400 grit) because that could allow for less strength on the hold. Sanding helps create the chemical bond needed for the coat of epoxy resin. I have seen multiple table makers say they just go to 320.
Sanding down your imperfection has multiple purposes. First and most important, most epoxy resins will be VERY glossy when they are on, by not sanding you could risk the new filler epoxy resin to not stick well to the area – leaving you to re-fill this same spot in the future.
The second reason is to make sure none of the damage is higher than the rest of the table. When epoxy resin gets dented, like if dropped or bumped with a hard object, it can cause the surrounding area to get slightly raised. The last thing you want is to fill in the damage only to have a larger, raised bump protruding the area.
The final main reason is to make sure it is a clean area. Sometimes dust, wood, or even bugs could get into the area (maybe you’re redoing it because something got in while curing). The sanding of the area ensures that you are essentially working on a new surface.
Clean it Again
Make sure that your sanded area is completely clean. Adding epoxy resin to an unclean area will cause much frustration and pain. Not only will it be less likely to hold well, it will ruin the aesthetic completely.
Fill and Level the Patch with New Epoxy
Now that your areas are sanded and cleaned, you’re able to fill in the hole. Depending on the project and size, you could use a simple quick-drying epoxy. This is a great option if you only have one day to work on it or it’s a really small part that’s damaged.
If this is a larger spot (a good rule of thumb could be a half-dollar coin size or more), you will want to fill it with a nicer, longer cure-time epoxy. To do this, mix the epoxy of your choice in a plastic cup. If you didn’t make your piece of furniture and/or don’t have a favorite, feel free to check out my list of top epoxies. Simply pour the epoxy carefully, or use a spoon to fill the hole. Once it is in you may want to use a squeegee or credit card to run across it and level it. This won’t usually be necessary (unless you over pour) as most epoxies will self-level.
*Extra Thought* Don’t forget to get rid of the bubbles with a little heat. If you don’t have a blow torch, a candlestick lighter can work on the smaller spots.
Allow it to Dry
You want to make sure the epoxy resin is fully dry before continuing to work on it. This is important because if it’s even just the slightest bit sticky when you go to do anything, you could easily ruin the project. You are so close to home, you definitely don’t want to have to start over from here.
Re-Sand and Polish
Now comes the fun (and sometimes unnecessary) part! Once it is dry there are two options. It could be good to go (a lot of epoxies cure perfectly) and you are done! If not, no fear. You are going to want to re-sand the area – very gently. This time you can sand to the highest grit you want (the higher the better – you want it to be as shiny as possible). It is important now that you sand it to at least 320 grit. Once this is done, you can go ahead and wash the table with clean water and polish it.
How to Polish Epoxy?
I know this may be the next most logical question. Polishing can be done in quite a few ways. On a small area – just get a lint-free rag and some sort of wax – Amazon has some affordable ones that work for this. If this is just an epoxy resin area being done, or a small purely-epoxy piece, you can even just use turtle wax.
If it is a partial wood project and you had to sand around the wood as well, I recommend first starting with some plant oil or mineral oil. After this is done then you can use a nice furniture wax.
On large pieces, you will want to invest in a buffing wheel (even just a handheld one). This will make the whole piece uniform and help it get into any wood parts. Finishing and polishing is one of the most important steps and you want to make sure it get’s done right.
When is it Worth Fixing Your Epoxy Damage?
This is a pretty personal question. Honestly, it is up to you whether or not a slight imperfection is worth going through the hassle. I know for me, I have fixed it even for just a tiny may-fly that got in my epoxy while it was curing. If you’re like me, any imperfection to such a beautiful and unique piece of furniture is worth a few dollars and a day to fix. I say if you’re able to, go for it.
On the other hand, maybe you have kids and pets and it is a regularly-used piece of furniture. Or maybe you are going to be moving again shortly and don’t want to risk it. In these situations I would say it’s worth not fixing – at least not yet. You want to minimize how many times you need to fix it, therefore wait until it is at least in a permanent, semi-safe environment.
Fixing Major Damage to Epoxy Resin
Let’s face it, major damage is bound to happen to people. It could be kids, pets, moving damage, or even something like weather damage. When this happens, don’t worry. Despite cost and time to make a whole piece, usually redoing the top coat won’t be nearly as difficult or expensive.
In short, you’ll want to sand down the entire top coat to 240-320 grit sand paper, wash it with clean water, and then re-epoxy the entire coat. This may sound like a lot at first, but I promise it’s not. For more in-depth info, check out my other post of refinishing a damaged epoxy table.