While epoxy is relatively easy to use, there are many things that can go wrong with do-it-yourself epoxy projects. It can happen to the best of us DIY-ers and professionals alike. It is best to understand how and why these mistakes happen so you can prevent them from occurring when installing an epoxy countertop in your kitchen or bathroom. Before you choose to embark on a DIY epoxy project keep in mind that things can and do go wrong and can end up costing you more money in the long run. Here are some common DIY epoxy countertop mistakes.
DIY Epoxy Countertops Can Go Wrong
Most DIY epoxy countertop mistakes happen as a result of a lack of experience in pouring epoxy. There are several crucial steps to follow for a successful outcome and shortcuts are not an option. It would be beneficial to watch and learn from professional epoxy installers first before attempting to DIY. Pouring epoxy can easily be considered “art” and it can take many years to “perfect the pour” and be able to remedy any issues quickly and effectively as they arise.
Incorrect Room Temperature
Acclimating your epoxy and maintaining the correct room temperature is a key facet when working with epoxy. The correct room temperature (between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit) will help the surface achieve the optimal temperature for your pour. It is best to set the room temperature between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit for 48 to 72 hours before your epoxy application. If the room temperature is lower, the countertops will remain soft instead of curing or hardening properly. On the contrary, if the ambient temperature becomes too warm, it can result in your epoxy curing quicker than anticipated and will allow significantly less time to work and manipulate your epoxy. After your pour is complete is best to maintain this ambient temperature for 24 hours to allow for a complete curing process.
Incorrect Material Ratio or Measurement
To achieve a satisfactory and durable finish, the proper ratio should be 1:1. Most buckets that epoxy is sold in have measurement markings on them to help with mixing the correct quantities. It is important not to measure the liquid using a scale as the hardener and resin have different consistencies and will have different weights for the same volume. If you make a misstep in your mixing process it can result in your epoxy hardening too quickly or slowly, or in the worst-case scenario, it may not harden at all.
Incorrect Mixing Time
Mixing is a vital step to get right. Rushing the mixing process can be disastrous. It is recommended to use a clean paint stick to mix by hand rather than a drill paddle as the high agitation can cause bubbles to form in the mixture. Proper mixing will ensure that there is no unmixed resin or resin clumps that will cause soft, tacky, and uncured areas in your countertop. Should clumps emerge, you may need to apply a flood coat to seal the top. This will require more epoxy and more time which can be costly in both time and money.
Incorrect Surface Preparation
Appropriate surface preparation of your existing countertops is a critical part of the process. Failure to prep your substrates will almost certainly lead to an unfavorable project outcome and premature peeling, cracking, and delamination of your epoxy. Each surface (such as Formica, concrete, quartz, Corian, granite, tile, or laminate just to name a few) will have different preparation requirements to adequately prepare them.
For favorable adhesion, the surface needs to be sanded and cleaned of any debris, dust, chemicals, oils, wax, and grease. Then it must be completely dried. Sometimes an appropriate lacquer thinner, acetone, or solvent is even needed to rid the surface of hard-to-clean substances. Adequate surface preparation will result in a smooth, glossy finish. If pouring over tile, grout lines must be filled and sealed as they are extremely porous.
A clear epoxy skim coat needs to be applied using a squeegee followed by a flood coat six hours later. Porous surfaces like wood and concrete should first be sealed to remove any air pockets as epoxy cannot penetrate them. Failure to do so will result in bubbles forming on the countertop. Air bubbles can be remedied with the application of one or two skim coats which again is more time and cost.
Incorrect Epoxy Quantity Calculation
Miscalculating the amount of epoxy needed is a big problem. In the case of epoxy, less is NOT more. You must account for every square inch of surface needed coverage including your base color, to tint and “work” your design, to fill any imperfections, and for your clear topcoat. It is better to have leftover epoxy rather than too little as the job needs to be done all in one go, and there may be little time for extra mixing and purchasing more product if you come up short.
A thinner consistency epoxy will result in divots, dents, or fisheyes which happens from the product pulling to areas that are thinner and void of epoxy. Inadequate amounts of epoxy can also leave an uneven finish which looks unsightly and can be amplified when light hits it.
Inadequate Curing Time Before Use
Once your pour is completed, we understand how excited you will be to use your brand-new work of art! However, it is imperative to refrain from using your surface prematurely before it can completely cure and harden. In doing so, this can cause irreparable damage that may warrant a complete repour. (How sad and expensive would that be?!) Once the curing process begins, it will take approximately seven to ten hours for the epoxy to begin hardening. You should refrain from touching or using the surface for the first 48 hours.
For seven to ten days, you will want to stick with light and gentle (or “babying” as we like to call it) use and only use lighter appliances and gadgets on the surface. After thirty days you can safely place your heavier appliances and resume normal use on your countertops without fear of divots or indentations from their bases. This is the hardest but arguably most important part of your process, but it doing so you will ensure you will have a beautiful, finished project that you will be able to enjoy for years to come.
Don’t try to DIY epoxy countertops and regret
Additional Reading: Resurfacing Kitchen Countertops
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