One of the key advantages of learning from the experts is that you pick up some great tips for saving time and money when using epoxy products.
Here are some from the recent Beginners Course held at West System International’s UK headquarters near Southampton:
Suffering hair loss?
“You’ll get through a lot of cheap brushes when working with epoxy,” said instructor David Johnson. “The problem is, cheap brushes tend to drop hairs into the coating, which can be annoying as you have to pick them out. Any you miss will need sanding back once the epoxy has cured. A great tip is to simply pinch up the ferrule (the metal sleeve that holds the hairs) so it grips more tightly.
On small brushes, use a pair of mole grips, and on larger brushes, squash the ferrule a little in a vice. This tip only takes a few seconds to complete, but saves many minutes of frustration later.”
Get into the corners
Getting a perfect cure means mixing exactly the right amount of epoxy hardener to epoxy resin. The instructors emphasised the proper mixing is very important.
As a general rule the hardener goes in first, as it is slightly lighter so will rise through the resin during the mixing process. The WEST SYSTEM measuring pots and stirring sticks are deliberately supplied with right angles at the base and a flat bottom. This is so you can get the edge of your mixing stick right into the corners to ensure that no hardener or thickening material is missed. Usually a count to 100 whilst stirring is enough time to ensure a perfect blend and the hardener and resin must be mixed first. Any additive needed can be added once the resin and hardener are thoroughly mixed.
The ‘cut roller’ tip
Once you have rolled on a coat of epoxy, a good tip is literally, to ‘tip’ it off. This involves running a cut piece of roller gently over the surface to smooth down any high points, air bubbles or other prominences that could give you an uneven coating.
Simply cut a roller into sections, hold the edge in a bulldog clip, and run it lightly over the surface for a perfect finish.
Increase the surface area
Once the epoxy resin and hardener are mixed together an exothermic reaction begins. This means the mix generates heat, which in turn speeds up the reaction and reduces the working time of the mix.
When using small amounts of epoxy that you have mixed in a small cup or container, simply pour the mixed epoxy into a WEST SYSTEM Roller Tray. By spreading the mixed epoxy into a thin film, you have effectively increase the surface area and reduced the effects of the exothermic reaction. This tip is particularly useful if working in an area with high ambient temperatures, and will help prevent material hardening before it can be used.