Customers come into our store, keen and eager to do their first epoxy pour. They’ve watched lots of YouTube and Instagram videos and they’re ready to tackle it! They buy a $300 kit, two beautiful slabs to make a river table, we chat a bit about it and they go on their way, only to come back a few weeks later with issues during their pour, and frustration about what went wrong. We see it all the time, and it breaks our heart every time we do! It never fails that every time it happens, we can figure out why after just a couple questions, because it’s almost always the same common mistakes. That’s just the learning curve that comes with using epoxy - all of the mistakes we see, we’ve experienced them all ourselves, and then some! But we want to help you not make those mistakes, so if you’re new to epoxy (or a vet and want a refresh!) read on, my friends, read on!
MEGA TIP: if you haven’t worked with epoxy before, please please please start out with a small project, like a charcuterie board! Get your bearings with it, figure out how the product works and have some fun with it before investing hundreds of dollars into products (and possibly a new floor…). You can snatch up a piece of charcuterie stock for under $20, and a 750mL R-Epoxy kit for $39 - how much better does it get than that?! Ok, now back to the point…
Mistake #1: Using the wrong epoxy for your application. All epoxies have a maximum pour depth and are designed for different projects. I’ll use the Ryver epoxy lines as examples:
R-Epoxy - good for pours up to 1/4” deep and cures in 24hrs.
R-Cast - good for pours up to 2” deep and cures in 4-7 days.
If you use R-Epoxy to make a river or casted table, it’s going to be a mess and won’t cure properly. If you use R-Cast to fill a tiny hole, you’re going to be waiting forever for it to cure. Moral of the story: read your labels. If the label doesn’t state it, contact a dealer or the company directly to find out if you’re using the right epoxy for your application.
Mistake #2: Not mixing your epoxy long enough. Epoxies are a two part mix, and if your hardener (Part B, Part 2, etc.) isn’t fully mixed into your resin (Part A, Part 1, etc.) then you’re going to have soft spots throughout your epoxy. These are spots where there isn’t enough hardener, making the epoxy not cure properly. There are mixers that hook up to your drill (like this one here) that are great for ensuring a thorough and complete mix. This brings me to my next point…
Mistake #3: Mixing your epoxy ratios incorrectly. Most are a 2:1 or 1:1 mix, and you need to make sure you have the ratios correct! If you have too much or too little hardener, you’re going to have the same problem as above - soft or uncured spots. Get a measuring bucket (like this one here) that has your ratios on it to save yourself the headache!
Mistake #4: Temperature and pour location. Epoxy is finicky in the sense that it doesn’t like extreme temperatures - anything too hot or too cold will give you problems while it cures. If your workshop is in a garage that doesn’t have AC and its 40 degrees with humidity outside, you might want to hold off on pouring your epoxy. And vice versa for winter - anything around the 10 degree mark and under will not work in your favor.
FYI: Ryver Epoxy has 0% VOC, so you can pour it in enclosed spaces (like a basement, mud room, etc.) without having to worry about harmful chemicals going into your home!
And last but definitely not least, mistake #5: Using wood that isn’t completely dry. Depending on the moisture content of your wood (you want to be around 8% or less to work with it), you might not see any problems right off the bat, but you just wait… in a month, six months or a year+, your piece is going to split, warp or twist and take the epoxy right with it. Once the wood splits or shifts from drying, the epoxy will crack and then you’re just left with a mess. Not sure if your piece is dry enough? Pick up this moisture meter off Amazon for $35, or purchase a professionally kiln dried slab (all the slabs on our site have been kiln dried to an 8% or less moisture level, and flattened. Shop here!).
TIP: if you’re air drying wood indoors, a good rule of thumb is to dry for 1 year per inch of thickness. So if your piece is 3” thick, expect it to take 3 years for the piece to air dry.
Epoxy work is all about practice, and like I mentioned before, it’s a learning curve - but I hope with these tips, you will start your first project off on a high note!
As always, we are here to help if you have any questions! Thanks for reading :)
-Ali & Kyle