By Roderick Kabel
Epoxy is an incredibly versatile product that has found its way into almost every area of our modern homes. It is increasingly being used as a highly protective and beautiful finish for countertops. Either as a gloss flood coating over tables and countertops or tinted with multiple colors for artistic features or even faux granite and marble effects.
There are many good reasons for this, including durability, strength, scratch-resistance (although not scratch “resistant”) and the products ability to be applied over most surfaces used in the construction of countertops and tables today.
Epoxy will perform well over wood, glass, ceramic, stone aggregate, cement, and most metals. However, before you start applying epoxy over, make sure you are using the correct epoxy product for the job. We recommend WiseBond® Bar and Tabletop Epoxy for river tables and countertops.
What is the best epoxy to use for countertops?
There are many types of table and countertop epoxy on the market, but to get the best, long-lasting finish on your countertop, make sure the product you choose has the following characteristics:
Project specific epoxy. Not all epoxy is the same and not all epoxy works for bars, table tops and countertops. Using a construction grade or marine grade epoxy may not offer the benefits of an epoxy specially formulated for tables and countertops. Although most epoxy is made from similar raw materials, not all epoxy is not universal. Construction and marine grade epoxy have a different pot life and working time which most likely will not suit the specific table and countertop application.
Self-leveling. The description is self-explanatory. While most epoxy will flow out and be self-leveling, you just want to be sure that the product you choose has this benefit on the label. In the process of pouring the epoxy over your countertop you will be able to spread it out with the proper notched spreader tool ensuring that you get a smooth even surface with each application.
Viscosity. Viscosity is something many people do not take into account. Why is it important? A low viscosity epoxy is what allows the epoxy to self-level and flow over the sides of a table or countertop. However, if the viscosity is too low, it will run off like water and not have the correct thickness. Epoxy for tables and countertops should be viscus such as honey. It should provide for a 1/8” final thickness when troweled with a 1/4” notched spreader over the surface. An epoxy such as the WiseBond® Bar & Table Top epoxy has the appropriate viscosity and will cure properly at the desired 1/8” thickness.
Heat resistant. Most epoxy has a heat-resistant temperature limit which can be deceiving from brand to brand. Don’t be fooled by any epoxy brand touting incredibly high heat-resistant temperatures. Always use caution and treat your epoxy surface with care. Most all epoxy brands such as the WiseBond® brand will withstand 120F. Which is a very hot cup of coffee. If your countertop is intended to be used in the kitchen, it is recommended that hot pads be used underneath all pots and pans to protect your countertop. While the finish may take some incidental heat, it is not intended to resist the normal temperature range of cooking equipment heated on the stovetop or in the oven. Epoxy is also not fireproof.
Scratch-resistant. Epoxy is strong, durable and beautiful. Epoxy surfaces do offer a mild scratch resistance but it is NOT 100% scratch-resistant. If you try to scratch it, it will scratch. A full 30 day cure time will offer a scratch resistance capable of handling most every day activities.
Epoxy quantities. The amount of epoxy you will need will depend upon the size of the project you are undertaking. Many home improvement centers will only carry quarts of epoxy and that can put you in a bind if you need a gallon or more. The issue is usable working time once the epoxy has been mixed (there are usually two parts (A-side and B-side) that are blended before using). If you don’t have enough epoxy to cover your entire table or countertop at one time, you will end up with visible break lines or runs where one pour stopped and another started. The WiseBond.com website has a very useful calculator to estimate your needed usage.
How long will the epoxy finish last?
One of the reasons that epoxy is so popular in the market place is because of its durability. It is frequently used as the finish on bar tops which are incredibly rough environments. While epoxy will last for years, it is susceptible to yellowing if exposed to a great deal of UV light. WiseBond® Bar and Tabletop Epoxy is specifically designed with UV inhibitors to make sure your beautiful glossy finish stays that way for years to come.
Epoxy should last a lifetime if maintained properly. Always clean up spills and stains can be removed with an acetone-based nail polish remover. Surface cleaning with a non-streaking glass cleaner should be fine.
Epoxy is not inherently “antimicrobial” in the sense that it will kill bacteria. However, the surface of epoxy and the structure of the tight cured molecules will not allow bacteria that is present to grow. Always clean the epoxy surface with a branded cleaner that kills bacteria.
Bar and countertop epoxy can also be buffed with an electric drill or polisher using a polishing paste or liquid to bring back the shine or take out small scratches. Be sure to understand how to polish properly otherwise you could damage the surface or make it dull and cloudy.