Making Sure Your Epoxy is Waterproof

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Is epoxy completely waterproof?

More than once, we’ve heard from people working on projects, be it a boat, a patio, whatever… that end up complaining because they have been told that epoxy is this miracle product that will prevent any type of corrosion or damage. That it is essentially bomb-proof.

The first question always runs something along the lines of “are you sure you were using an actual epoxy product?” As in, “this isn’t some cheap knockoff product pretending to be epoxy, right?”

And for the most part, people get that part of the equation right. But the bigger picture, and this extends far outside the realm of epoxy is that the tools are only as good as the artist allows them to be. What does this mean?

Well, it means that the epoxy has to be applied properly. Epoxy is waterproof, end of story. But one hastily mixed, sloppily applied coat of epoxy might give you some issues.

So, assuming you’ve bought bona-fide epoxy, what can you do to ensure that you end up with waterproof epoxy?

You can follow these simple steps:

  1. Read the directions. The big thing to take away here is the mixture ratio. Some epoxies, like many System Three epoxy products are mixed at a 2:1 ratio. That is, two parts resin, one part hardener. Others call for a 1:1 mixture. Screwing this up will have a very detrimental impact on your epoxy’s performance, so double check this before you get started.
  2. Once you’ve confirmed the mixing instructions, make sure to mix the two parts thoroughly. You’ll likely be using some kind of Dixie-style cup and a Popsicle stick. Make sure to spend a solid 45 seconds stirring your compound. Scrape the sides of the cup as you go to ensure both parts are completely mixed before you move on to the application phase.
  3. Apply the epoxy uniformly, and don’t be careless. That means trying to distribute the epoxy evenly over your surface, and don’t miss any spots. If you’re a little short, it’s always better to mix up a little more than it is to just resign yourself to a super thin coat in a couple of spots.
  4. Apply more coats. Don’t assume that the first coat is going to do it. Wait however long the directions indicate for the first coat to completely cure, and then repeat steps 2 and 3. Three solid coats should do the trick on most surfaces, and should ensure that you have a very solid, waterproof epoxy solution for your project.

How to Remove Epoxy

Can you really remove epoxy once it has cured?

It is not easy. The most popular method out there right now seems to be acetone, which is a lot like rubbing alcohol in that it is colorless and very flammable. The belief out there is that rubbing some acetone on to cured epoxy will loosen it up and allow one to scrape the epoxy off.

Now, acetone might be all well and good for thinning epoxy before it has cured, but best of luck to you if you are attempting to use acetone to clean off a surface that has already been treated with hardened epoxy. Epoxy is tough. That’s why you coated whatever you’re working on in the first place.

It may be that allowing the acetone to soak in/on the coated wood or surface for an extended period of time can make the epoxy a little more malleable, but the results might not be all that you are hoping for, or all that other sources might have led you to believe.

A product like acetone can be a great complementary item to have on hand when attempting to get rid of unwanted epoxy.

First and foremost, though, what you are going to want is heat, and a lot of it. Remember when you were first applying the epoxy in question, and it became very warm while it was curing?

Well, at the time, the epoxy was also very workable. And that’s the condition that you need to help the epoxy resin return to if you ever hope to ‘work’ with it again.

Buy or borrow a heat gun.

You’ll have your best chances of success if you heed this advice.

Blast your surface with heat for what seems like forever.

Slowly, the epoxy will begin to soften up. When I said that you’d be able to ‘work’ with it again earlier, that was a bit of an exaggeration. We’re really just telling you how to remove epoxy, and it isn’t easy.

Even taking the two main steps outlined in this article, you’re going to be gouging and clawing at that epoxy garage floor, or whatever you’re working on.

Take heart though, it can be done, and with great results. Just don’t go into the project thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park.