How to Use Epoxy Resin

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Working with epoxy (Photo: @zelmabrezinska via Twenty20)
When it comes to fasteners and adhesives, one of the most popular substances is epoxy resin. Extremely versatile, easy to use, and among the most durable materials the home DIYer can use, epoxy resin is a relatively new material on the market. Here’s what you need to know before you choose to work with epoxy.

Brief history of epoxy resin

First patented in 1934 by a German man named Paul Schlack, epoxy resin was discovered by combining two groups of chemicals, epoxides and amines, which resulted in a material that bonded extremely well to most surfaces.
Early on, one of its primary uses in the 104-s was for dental prosthetics. By mid-century, epoxy resin became similarly popular in the art scene, jewelry, and as a permanent fastener for various industries that included automotive and construction.

What epoxy can be used for

As one of the most versatile adhesives and fasteners, modern epoxy resins can be developed and adapted for almost any purpose. Epoxy makes an amazing finishing product for countertops and tables, as well as furniture coatings because it can be pigmented easily.
Other epoxies are perfect for fastening automotive body parts together. Options are almost unlimited when you know how to apply epoxy.

How to use epoxy

Although it’s easy to use, it’s imperative to use epoxy resin safely and accurately for the right results. Here’s how it’s done.

Wear safety equipment

Protect yourself from harmful effects while epoxy resin is being applied or drying. Contact with your skin can cause skin irritation or give you a case of contact dermatitis. Breathing the fumes can often cause respiratory irritation.
Wear safety equipment when working with epoxy to prevent adverse reactions. That includes a respirator mask, gloves, and clothing that covers any areas of skin that could be in contact with the epoxy resin.

Prep your materials

Most epoxy resins have approximately 30 to 40 minutes of working time. If you don’t have your materials ready to fasten together, you could be left with poor adhesion or a weak final product. Have your test fitting done prior to mixing your resin.

Mix epoxy resin

Most epoxy resins are a mix of equal parts resin and hardener. The trick is to mix just enough resin for your project as any extra can only be discarded, not reused. Completely mix the resin with the hardener until it’s one uniform color, then apply it to your project.

Clamp your media together

It takes time for epoxy to set up, and your project needs to remain perfectly still until it does. Clamp your pieces together if you’re fastening items. If you’re applying an epoxy coating, ensure it’s protected and untouched in a safe place.

Allow drying and curing time

When it’s dry, epoxy resin simply becomes epoxy. It takes approximately 24 hours for resin to reach about 95% of fully cure and be safe to work with again. For a full curing time for epoxy, allow 72 hours.