Epoxy resins are a combination of two chemicals, a resin, and a hardener. Epoxies were originally used as an adhesive to hold things together.
Over time they have become popular in the world of woodworking, especially in creating river tables. Epoxy is mixed together and poured over the surface of wood that has been cut and sanded flat. Liquid epoxy wicks into the wood making it almost like stone.
Once the epoxy dries you can continue to sand and polish your new tabletop until it takes on an amazing luster.
In this article we will cover some basics about epoxy and when you need to wait between coats of epoxy. We will also cover some tips for drying your project so that you can get back to work on your masterpiece!
How long does epoxy need to dry between coats?
That’s a great question. The answer is, it depends. Epoxy coatings have two parts: the epoxy resin and the hardener. As you might expect, the resin and hardener are mixed together for application.
Once applied, the epoxy coating slowly cures into a solid plastic coating through what is known as a chemical reaction.
It is this curing process that allows an epoxy coating to harden into a solid plastic coating. This curing process can take anywhere from several hours (fast-curing or quick-cure 2-part epoxies) to weeks (slow-curing 1-part clear latex penetrating sealers) depending on ambient conditions such as temperature and humidity, as well as the type of epoxy chosen.
When applying multiple layers of an epoxy flooring system (which are commonly referred to as “build coats”), you will want to allow some time for each build coat to cure before applying your next layer of coating material over top of it (also known as “pot life”).
Generally speaking, when using fast-drying 2-part garage flooring kits or water based 1 part garage floor paints or high solids solvents based 1 part garage floor paints how long you can wait before applying your next layer will depend on what type of material was used in your previous layer and the amount of time that has passed since its application.
Table of Contents
- How long does epoxy need to dry between coats?
- When can I apply a second coat of epoxy?
- Do you have to sand between coats of epoxy resin?
- How long does the first layer of epoxy take to dry?
- How long does it take for a two part epoxy to dry?
- Can you apply a second coat of epoxy without sanding?
- How long should you wait between resin layers?
When can I apply a second coat of epoxy?
The first thing to understand is that epoxy doesn’t dry, it cures. Epoxy cures in temperatures between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit and with a relative humidity level of less than 85%.
If you’re dealing with cooler or more humid conditions, your epoxy will take longer to cure. When you apply epoxy, after the initial pour it’ll need to sit for 24 hours before curing is complete.
You can use this time to sand any imperfections that have built up on the surface after the first application, then wipe down the area again before applying another coat of resin.
After the first 24 hours have passed, you can apply a second coat of epoxy as soon as 2 hours later if the resin is still tacky on the surface.
The more coats you add–up to 6–the stronger your final product will be. However, if you want your epoxy shine to last for years without cracking or yellowing, we recommend stopping at 3 coats (you should get what we call extra-thick non-yellowing clear coat).
Regardless of how many coats you end up applying in one day, make sure to allow about 2-4 hours between each layer for best results.
This gives enough time for each layer of resin to properly set and bond with each subsequent layer during the curing process rather than remaining separate and susceptible to cracks or other flaws.
Do you have to sand between coats of epoxy resin?
If you choose to apply more than one coat of epoxy, then you will need to sand the first layer before the second layer is applied. When you apply a new epoxy resin layer over an uncured previous epoxy resin layer, it will not bond properly.
You can use a sanding disc or block to sand between coats; I prefer to use a block because it is easier to control. You should lightly sand the entire surface of your project for about 5 minutes until the surface is smooth and flat.
Again, if you want to avoid having to sand completely between coats, then your best bet is simply to protect your project from any dust or debris that could settle on the exposed surface while it cures.
How long does the first layer of epoxy take to dry?
The time it will take your epoxy resin to dry varies, depending on the type of epoxy resin you’re using and the environment you’re in.
If you use a clear casting resin, it’s best to let each layer sit for at least 24 hours before adding another layer. This same rule applies if you want to apply a pigment or glitter to your project.
This is not always possible if you are pouring the entire contents of a bottle over an object like a table, were waiting 24 hours between each coat would be more than inconvenient.
For some projects like these, using two-part epoxy resins might be better, because they are set much faster than casting resins (but they are also more expensive).
If you are working with any type of heat-activated resin (like Envirotex Lite), then that means that it will cure faster in higher temperatures and slower in lower temperatures.
How long does it take for a two part epoxy to dry?
How long does it take for a two part epoxy to dry? This is the number one question I get asked about epoxy. The short answer is that it takes about 4-6 hours for tack free between coats, 24 hours for complete cure, and 72 hours for full cure.
Can you apply a second coat of epoxy without sanding?
No, you should send the first coat of epoxy before applying the second coat if you want to achieve a good finish.
When using epoxy on an object, whether it’s a table, countertop, or floor, you’ll need to apply more than one coat. Applying a second coat of epoxy without sanding between coats is possible, but will result in uneven patches that can ruin your project.
Instead, make sure the first layer is fully cured and then sand it down before applying the second layer.
Why is sanding necessary?
Applying more than one coat of epoxy can result in an uneven finish if layers are not properly prepared and primed with enough time for them to cure correctly.
Sanding is an important part of prepping a surface for another layer of resin because doing so helps eliminate any bumps or ridges from previous layers.
Sanding also creates texture for subsequent layers to adhere to properly. This way the second coat won’t bubble or flake off when applied over a previously cured surface.
How long should you wait between resin layers?
The recommended minimum time to wait between resin layers is 24 hours. If you live in a cold environment, it’s best to wait two days.
When multiple thin layers are applied, the resin will not dry completely in between coats. It will become tacky and sticky – this is called “blocking”.
The key to successfully coating your project with resin is to let your first layer dry for 24-48 hours before applying another layer of resin.
If you apply a fresh coat of epoxy over a wet layer, then the two will mix together and begin curing as one thick slab.
This will produce air bubbles that take a very long time to pop and may never surface at all. When you apply multiple thin layers, the epoxy cures uniformly and you can avoid any moisture or other impurities that might be trapped inside.
Now you know how long to wait between coats of epoxy, how to do it, the best temperatures for curing, and other important things. It’s important that you understand all this so that you can get the most out of your epoxy resin and have a good time while doing it.
I hope this article has helped you answer your question about how long epoxy needs to dry between layers and given you some tips on what to look out for.