You’re likely going to see pieces of wooden furniture made with epoxy resin everywhere - in businesses, stores, and restaurants. And we must admit... epoxy resin looks great over wood! Filling the gaps in furniture with resin is one of the most common ways to change up the style of a piece while also making it much more durable and reinforced against damage or uneven surfaces. If you also have some old furniture that needs an upgrade, read our step by step guide on how to use epoxy resin on wood below.
In the sections below, we will cover all aspects of applying resin on wood, from what materials you need to the most common problems people encounter when applying resin on wood, what typical mistakes they make, and what the best practices are.
Getting started: wood and epoxy art
Epoxy resin is unlike any other material and offers a variety of possibilities. In addition to wood, you can achieve a wide range of designs such as epoxy resin coated with wood as a protective layer, wood in cast molds, epoxy resin river tables, etc. That being said, let’s see what we need to get started with using epoxy on wood.
Things you need to start a wood project
First things first, you will need the proper equipment and tools. Make sure these basic items aren’t missing from your list:
- Painter’s tape
- Resin mixing cups and stir sticks
- Heat gun or butane torch
- Microfiber cloth
- Eye protection
- Respirator mask
- Wood of your choice
- Colors/Mica powder (if needed)
Workspace preparation & safety concerns
Preparing your workplace ensures the quality of the final project. Make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need. Provide adequate ventilation. And don’t forget to wear a filter mask, protective goggles, and gloves while handling the product. If exposure limits are exceeded or if irritation or other symptoms are experienced, use a full-face respirator with multi-purpose combination (US) or type AXBEK (EN 14387) respirator cartridges.
For additional information on how to prepare your crafting area for epoxy work, read our article here.
The optimal working temperature
One of the most important factors to ensure your epoxy resin cures properly is temperature. The optimal temperature for your workspace is slightly warmer than room temperature: 75-85°F or 24-30°C.
The importance of using the right kind of resin on wood
There are a few other things to consider when choosing a specific epoxy. The kind of resin you use depends on what you want your final casting to look like. For example, if you are looking for a glossier resin finish on wood, you’ll want to make sure to start with adequate resin. Roxy Epoxy’s 2 Quart Resin kit offers a super-gloss coating and is perfect for woodworking, flooring, table tops, bar projects, and much more.
What wood works best with epoxy resin
The best material to use for an epoxy resin table is typically the flattest piece of live edge wood you can find such as Yew, Elm, Oak or Black Walnut. They would have to be dried so that the moisture level is lower.
How to determine the needed quantity of resin for a wood project
Figuring out the quantity of resin you need for a wood project may seem like a real headache. Luckily, there’s a magic formula for everything.
First, measure the piece. You’ll need to know length and width in inches. You’ll also need to know how thick you’d like the epoxy finish to be. Multiply these 3 measurements together to calculate the volume for the top of the table in cubic inches. To convert cubic inch volume to US fluid ounces, divide by 1.805. To convert ounces to gallons, divide by 128.
For projects with a rectangular shape, volume is calculated by multiplying the length x width x coating thickness. Most common table top and bar top epoxies provide approximately 12 sq feet per mixed gallon coverage at 1/8″ thickness.
For a round surface, you will need to measure the diameter. Divide the diameter by 2 to calculate the radius. To calculate volume in cubic inches: (radius squared) x pi (or, 3.14159265) x (desired epoxy coating thickness). Divide by 1.805 to convert cubic inch volume to US fluid ounces. To convert ounces to gallons, divide by 128.
Keep in mind that there can be other factors and variables that might impact how much epoxy you will need. Porous surfaces that require a seal coat, handling the edges of the surface, or losing composition to mixing or overflow can increase the amount of resin you need for a specific project. For most epoxy applications, 5-10% of extra product should be added to account for the inevitable wasted epoxy.
Applying epoxy to wood
When starting a wood resin project, there are many things to take into consideration. For example, you have to think about how resin reacts differently depending on the material you’re using. Thus, it’s important to know the ins and outs when working with resin on wood. Bear in mind that there are different types of wood resin projects: sealing wood, filling, preparing wood, and casting wood.
Epoxy resin is suitable for sealing wood as well as waterproofing it. Want to know how to seal wood before resin? Follow these 4 simple practices on how to prepare the wood for your resin projects:
- Choose an even surface to work on. Cover it with cardboard or a piece of plastic to protect it from spills.
- Before applying epoxy resin, use an aluminum oxide paper to sand and abrade the surface. Wipe off any dirt or dust from sanding the wood using a clean microfiber cloth.
- Attach painter’s tape to the back of the wood to catch epoxy drips.
- Place the wood on a pedestal to avoid it touching any surfaces. Use 2-3 flat objects.
How to mix epoxy resin for wood
Follow these 3 simple steps for mixing epoxy resin and be sure you work in a well-ventilated area that is over 65°F (18°C).
- For the perfect resin, you’ll want to put both bottles in hot water for 30-35 mins at a temperature of 122°F (50°C) BEFORE MIXING. After the contents of the bottles have warmed up completely, place them aside until they have returned to room temperature. Warning: Handle hot water with caution. Do not bring water to a boil (212°F/100°C).
- Measure equal parts of resin and hardener in the graduated mixing cups. 1:1, 2:1, or 4:1 are common mixing ratios. However, it is safer to start with equal parts of RESIN and HARDENER.
- Thoroughly mix the two components together with clean stir sticks until the mixture becomes transparent. Depending on the quantity you’re mixing, it can take between 3 to 7 minutes of continuous mixing without whipping.
How to apply epoxy to wood
- Start by carefully pouring epoxy over the middle of the wood.
- Use a foam brush to pull the epoxy towards the edges of the wood. Try to uniformize it as much as possible. Wipe off any excess epoxy from the side using the same brush.
- Get rid of any bubbles you may encounter by using a heat source (such as a hairdryer) over the epoxy.
- Let the first coat sit for 4 hours and then add an additional coat of epoxy for extra protection.
- Let it cure for at least 24 hours in a dust-free environment before removing the painter’s tape.
Epoxy over wood: other applications
Resin can be used in multiple ways in wood art depending on the type of project. Let’s take a better look at how we can use epoxy on wood.
Filling & repairing wood
Do you have some old pieces of wood or broken boards? Turn trash into treasure by filling the wood cracks with epoxy resin. Using an epoxy wood filler is a great way to restore old wood that could be too expensive to replace or difficult to remove. Just make sure you check first that these cracks are not continuous so that the resin won’t drain through the bottom. If there are continuous cracks, seal them with tape or use silicone sealant and remove them later.
Casting wood in resin
Create unique-looking raw objects for tabletops. Casting resin is a low-viscosity epoxy resin. When the components are mixed, a chemical reaction occurs, resulting in a thinner consistency. This property allows the resin to infiltrate and fill even the smallest gaps and cavities. With the casting resin, we have a highly specialized product for very specific applications.
How do you make colored resin for wood? After mixing the resin and hardener thoroughly, add a small batch of paint concentrate or pigments such as Mica powders. Repeat this step until you have achieved the desired shade of color. Nail polish and alcohol inks are also commonly used alternatives to color epoxy resin.
Use soap and warm water to clean your resin project. Then, wet sand the resin with 400 grit sandpaper to remove any scratches. Sand it again with 600 grit sandpaper, then with 800 grit sandpaper, 1000 grit sandpaper, and finally with 1500 grit sandpaper. Dry off the resin piece and apply the polishing compound across the surface. Spread it evenly across the project. Remove any excess resin with a microfiber cloth and use a buffing wheel to polish a larger piece of resin. This will give your piece a shiny and smooth effect.
Thorough polishing is the cornerstone for a perfect surface. With a little patience and effort, polishing resin can help you obtain a high gloss finish. If you want to polish shapes or small objects, it is sufficient enough to equip a standard drill with a special polishing attachment.
What if something goes wrong?
These are some of the most common issues that arise when working with epoxy over wood. Let’s see how to overcome and prevent these problems.
Epoxy resin shrinks too much
The mixed viscosity of the two epoxy component compounds can be reduced significantly by separately heating the resin and hardener prior to mixing together or warming the mixture itself.
Whether you use a handheld butane torch or a bigger propane torch for larger projects, the flame from a torch is hot enough to thin out the resin, allowing bubbles to escape. You can also use a hairdryer right after pouring the mixture over the surface to pop any possible bubbles.
The resin is extremely hot during casting
The chemical reaction between resin and hardener as epoxy cures will generate heat. Once you elevate the surface, use a fan to push air away from your resin. The air moves the heat out and allows the resin to stay cooler.
One trick to prevent yellowing is to choose epoxy colors that already contain heavy yellow pigments (such as green shades), or choose a dark color.
Fish-eyeing in epoxy coating
This one is tricky. An easier solution is to spray the surface with clear spray paint and then apply clear epoxy over it when the spray paint is still tacky. This provides some ‘friction’ to the surface and might prevent the dimples and fisheyes from forming.
Tips and tricks
Most problems related to pouring resin on wood and the way it cures can be linked to mixing the resin and hardener at the wrong ratio, a poor job of mixing the two components together, or some outside contaminant. This is why we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks that may help you in the process.
- DO NOT use glass or foam mixing cups as the epoxy can dissolve many types of foam materials.
- The epoxy needs to be thoroughly mixed for a proper cure. Avoid lifting and whipping, as it adds air bubbles into the epoxy.
- If any pigments, thickening agents, or other additives are to be added, dispense them into the mixed epoxy, and mix in thoroughly prior to pouring.
- As soon as the epoxy has been completely mixed, it should be poured or applied. Do not allow the epoxy to sit in the mixing cup any longer than it needs to, as curing has already started from the moment the two components were mixed together.
- Grease, oil, wax, or any other foreign materials are considered contaminants and can leave irregular textures on the surface, a fish eye effect, or drastically slow the cure.
We hope this article will serve as your go-to resource when in need. Working with epoxy over wood can result in beautiful epoxy tables, waterfall benches, decorative coffee tables, DIY cutting boards, resin and wood coasters, and even decorative wall clocks. If you still need some more inspiration on what to create, check out these 6 Amazing Ideas for Epoxy Wood Creation.