Epoxy resin has been gaining popularity due to its versatility and ability to produce stunning art of all kinds. However, the compound can be overwhelming for a beginner who is just getting started with the techniques and tools of the craft.
One especially intimidating procedure is epoxy mixing, a procedure that can make or break the success of the outcome of the product. The process demands careful measurement and mixing to produce a properly cured piece. However, it gets easier with the right directions and practice.
Here’s a guide on how to mix epoxy that will ensure you get it right every time.
How Does Epoxy Resin Work?
As mentioned, making epoxy resin can be tricky for DIYers. It’s important to get the mixing right and follow the manufacturer’s directions if you want to get it right. This is because epoxy resin is a type of plastic made of two parts that you combine to create a single substance: A resin and a hardener.
Essentially, mixing resin with hardener causes a chemical reaction that begins as a liquid but hardens with time. This process of hardening is known as curing, and the result is a solid finish that can either be clear or come in a variety of colors.
Measuring the resin and hardener accurately and thoroughly mixing the epoxy resin is crucial to achieving a perfect product. Improper measurements could result in an epoxy mix that hasn’t cured properly and is either soft or sticky or has bubbles.
Mixing Epoxy: Supplies and Equipment
Ready to get started? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Eye protection, rubber gloves, and a respiratory mask
- Clean silicone mixing cups
- Clean mixing sticks
- A kitchen-style digital scale or a silicone measuring cup
- Plastic spoons
- Surface covering
- A silicone mold (or the surface you plan to make your art on, such as artboards, canvases, and tiles)
Mixing Epoxy Resin: A Step-by-Step Guide
With everything ready, let’s get into how to mix epoxy resin.
Step 1: Prepare Your Surface
Some resins take longer to dry than others, but hardening usually starts to occur quickly and can leave you without wiggle room to get everything ready. As such, it is important to prepare the surface before you start.
If using a mold, make sure it is wax-free before applying a new coat of epoxy release agent. Surfaces other than silicone molds should be clean and dry.
Step 2: Measure Your Resin
Choose a high-quality epoxy and carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions before you start. Depending on the brand, epoxy resins are designed to work in a specific hardener ratio to resin mixture. Most require a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio, measured either by weight or volume. You perform your measures using a measuring cup or digital scale.
Make sure to measure to the exact specifications.
Step 3: How to Mix Resin
After pouring the two parts in the correct ratio, mix thoroughly for about 2–3 minutes with your mixing stick. Do this for longer if mixing larger quantities. Make sure to scrape the sides, corners, and bottom as you mix to get all the resin and hardener.
The mixture is ready when it takes on a single consistency without streaks.
Step 4: Pour The Resin
Pour the resin directly into your mold immediately after mixing it. If pouring onto a surface, consider dispensing it in stages, spreading each pour into a very thin layer, and then smoothing it out with a brush.
Add things into your epoxy resin mixture in between these layers and before it begins to tack.
Step 5: Curing
Epoxy slowly turns from a liquid to a gel state before it reaches a solid state. This process is what is known as curing and is faster when the epoxy is warmer and longer when the epoxy is cooler. It’s best to let your mix cure at room temperature.
If bubbles appear during the process, eliminate them by passing a heat gun over the resin on the low setting. This will bring them to the surface, where the trapped air is released.
There you have it — your resin should be crystal clear and ready for treatments such as sanding and adding a finishing top coat.
Epoxy Mixing Tips
Attention to detail is key to a successful epoxy project. If you do not know how to mix epoxy or are just starting, here are a few tips and facts you should be aware of:
- If using a measuring cup, choose one with the smallest usable increments possible to enable accurate measurement.
- Avoid moisture contamination by making sure your mixing tools are clean and dry and the environment is not too humid. Water can prevent your mixture from curing.
- Only use compatible resins. These are either products from one manufacturer or brands that are intended for each other.
- Make sure your resin hardener is not cold before mixing. A temperature of 75 degrees F or warmer is ideal.
- Don’t mix your epoxy too fast or irregularly to keep air incorporation to a minimum. This is what causes the bubbles to form during curing.
Get Started on Your Next Project
There you have it: with the right measurements and materials, you should be able to create a beautiful piece that will last a lifetime. Plastic Materials Incorporated has all the materials you’ll need to create your epoxy resin castings. Contact us today to learn more about epoxy resin castings, or visit our shop to view our complete selection.