Epoxy tables are incredibly durable pieces, they can often last for years (maybe a couple decades) without any large damage or issues. However, epoxy itself does have drawbacks. In order to best prevent any issues down the road for your table, I put together my list of ways to prevent issues and protect epoxy tables.
Here are my top tips and tricks to keep your epoxy table looking new:
- UV Protection
- Cure Time
- Cure Temperature
- Use Shallow Pours
- Completely Dry the Wood
- Double Coat
- Minimal Dyes
- Minimize Humidity
- Minimize Chemical Exposure
Now that you’ve seen the list, I’m going to expand on the common pitfalls and why these extra measures help make sure your table is good to go for the long haul.
Direct sunlight has a negative effect on epoxy resin. It can cause breakdown or it can cause the epoxy to turn a yellowish color. This is unfortunate for a room with lots of natural light, or for a piece that you really want to display in an outdoor manner.
One of the best ways to prevent an epoxy resin from wear and tear due to UV light is to apply a coat of UV resistant urethane. This will give it a strong protection from the harmful rays, but also allow you to have that masterpiece that you built. You can find UV resistant products in many forms – spray, brush application, mixing – by doing a simple search on your favorite retailer.
Many epoxy resins now come UV resistant – although they say this, it is likely that they aren’t as good as a coating. Do research to make sure you are getting a great product, and when in doubt do a seal coat of UV resistant urethane.
Not allowing epoxy resin to cure to its fullest extent will lead to a weaker bond. Although many can be worked on within 24 hours, it is best to give it extra time.
Simple, just allow maximum time for a cure. Something like an epoxy river table will be best if it has a week to cure.
Similar and related to the last one, is the temperature you allow your epoxy resin to cure at. Most epoxies need to be kept at warm to hot temperatures during the curing process. Failure to do so could cause issues with it not hardening all the way, or taking much, much longer than it should to do so.
Also simple, make sure you are working in an area that has adequate heat – most epoxy resins will ideally be at 75 Fahrenheit, but double check with your brands instructions. Follow it to a T, or else you could be left with a giant waste of a project.
Use Shallow Pours
Many people, myself included in the younger days, assume that we can just pour epoxy resin across a 10′ long, 2″ thick table and have a new table within a few days. If you have used epoxy before, or have done your research, you will soon realize that the vast majority of epoxy resins pour between 1/8″ and 1/4″. Pouring more than the epoxy was intended to do causes it to cure improperly, often times heating up beyond what it is supposed to and ruining the chemical bond.
Follow the directions exactly. If you bought an epoxy that only pours up to 1/4″, it is well worth your time to go back and pour every 4-6 hours in order to make sure the chemical bond is maximized without causing issues.
Completely Dry the Wood
This is a common mistake that people are unaware of or get false information on. Wet wood, even if it isn’t noticeably wet, can cause the wood to shrink and expand post-pour. This means that it could damage the epoxy coating after you have already finished your project.
Make sure you double check with the supplier of your wood to know how it was dried and how long. If it was professionally kiln dried, you will be fine. If they air dried, figure out the situation it was air dried in. Someones old garage that leaks may not provide the type of “dry” you are looking for.
Double Coat It
When doing a top coat of epoxy, often the grain of the wood will soak different amount in different parts. Sometimes it will be left very thin or even almost to the wood in areas. This can allow for a number of issues to arise, especially a couple years down the line.
To ensure that you get an even and fully protective coating of epoxy on your table, give it the second coat. Most epoxy resins are self leveling, this means the second coat can ensure an even thickness of epoxy across the surface of your piece – leaving no area up to chance.
While many dyes are made for epoxy resin, you must be picky about the ones that you choose. Using a lot of a dry or wet epoxy can cause a disproportionate mix and will affect the cure, and overall life, of the epoxy.
Pick your pigments wisely – both wet and dry pigments are great in moderation. Choose pigments that are very strong when you want an opaque color, this will minimize the amount needed. Use a little and add more if it is necessary. If you go with any of the top brands, you won’t need to worry much or at all about this one. Don’t use things that aren’t made for doing this.
Humidity in wood can cause it to expand and shrink, as well as warp. This is one of the leading causes of destruction of any wooden object. Just like your door gets stuck differently in the doorway, the seasons affect all of your wooden objects.
If you are in a humid area, or could move to one, take a few precautionary steps. Cover the entire project with a seal coat. Any holes (even for legs) that are made should be 100% covered when the piece is together. Don’t leave a wooden piece outside when it is too hot/humid. Basically, take every action possible to avoid contact with the wood and heavily changing environments.
Minimize Chemical Exposure
Epoxy, as tough and hard as it is, reacts differently with chemicals. Simple alcohol can completely strip it from surfaces. Other chemicals will have some reaction to it.
When needing to clean your epoxy table, do so with soapy, warm water. This will be the best way to keep it pristine. If a strong shine is needed, you can use a watered down window cleaner. It is okay for some mild chemical exposure, just make sure you know what you’re putting on so you don’t accidentally strip your epoxy of too much.
I hope this guide was helpful in understanding the ins and outs of protecting your epoxy table. If I left anything out I would love to hear it, so I can continue to make the longest list possible for people to have at their disposal! Here are a couple other common questions.
How Long Will My Epoxy Table Last?
You can expect a well made epoxy and wood table to last a lifetime. Both materials are known to make it several decades when they are well cared for. Of course, this is depend on your creation process and attention to detail. For a ton more information on this, check out this blog post.
How Long Does it Take to Make an Epoxy Table?
For making an epoxy table, you should set aside a minimum of one and a half weeks. For most hobbyists, it will take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to get supplies, prep, wait on the cure time, and then do all the finishing.
This is obviously very volatile, based on how much time you can give it and how much equipment you already have. For some, getting the wood could take over a week, for others, they could be ready to start making it tomorrow. If you are making your own epoxy table – give yourself adequate time to get it done. Don’t rush the process, you want to get it right.