Design solutions are original, in which the construction materials we are familiar with find a slightly different application. A striking example is ordinary plaster, which embodies an artistic and decorative function. In this regard, the use of epoxy resin is interesting. If earlier it was considered as an adhesive composition, today the manufacture of furniture based on it is gaining popularity.
We are talking about tables, coffee tables, bar stools and countertops of the lower tier of the kitchen set. We will talk about countertops, since the housings themselves, if there is a tool, are assembled according to algorithms that have been developed for a long time.
No less interesting is the use of this technology for the manufacture of various furniture facades (doors). The difference is only in the thickness of the product – facades are usually much thinner than countertops.
Preparation of the material
Epoxy resin can be combined with various materials, there are no special requirements for their physical properties. Only the use of powdery and liquid substances that can form suspensions is not allowed. Usually the countertop is decorated with wood, metal or plastic. The countertop for the kitchen should not only be beautiful, but also environmentally friendly. The most suitable option is wood.
Not everyone can choose the right wood. If the step-by-step instruction defines the sequence of actions, starting with the preparation of the epoxy mixture. Preparatory work is rarely considered. Due attention should be paid to this stage.
It should be understood that a bright tree pattern with a pronounced outline of the fibers will look more interesting under a layer of transparent resin.
At the same time, the wood should be dry. Moisture will form small bubbles in the area of contact with the epoxy, which will significantly affect the appearance of the drawing. The ideal option is a slab. It is a longitudinal cut of a tree trunk of arbitrary thickness. To preserve the natural picture, the saw is not processed and is not cut. The presence of bark or knots will only give the picture originality.
Insufficiently dried wood will inevitably lead to cracking of the countertop or its unpredictable warping in the future.
After selecting the wood, it is necessary to plan how it will be laid out inside the future slab. One of the options is to simulate a river. To do this, two boards are laid in the base, and a space is left between them, which will later be filled with tinted resin. The planks are adjusted to each other or laid on the slab in a chaotic manner.
Interesting options are obtained by using round dies. They are formed during the transverse sawing of the trunk. If desired, the boards can be polished, cut and compare the edges, make them curly with a milling cutter. There are no clear instructions in this regard, because everything depends on the possibilities and imagination.
The next step is very important. It is necessary to process the wooden elements. If the boards are being processed, then they should be cleaned with sandpaper. Dust motes carefully sweep away. If the bark is left, you will have to ensure its integrity.
Pay attention to the condition of knots and wormholes. Pieces of wood that have begun to rot, it is better to remove immediately. The relief is cleaned with a brush.
You can’t do without a powerful enough vacuum cleaner or compressed air blowing. The bark of the tree itself is quite fragile and unstable material. At the same time, it is very porous and when left on the slab as a decorative element, it almost completely has to be impregnated with epoxy resin. Otherwise, crackling from the main array is inevitable.
The stain treatment helps to emphasize the drawing. The fiber structure becomes more contrasting. As an option, burning wood with a blowtorch is considered. To prevent the remaining small particles of chips and dust from getting into the resin, each element is covered with a layer of primer. In order to save material, it is permissible to primer with a thin layer of epoxy resin. You need to cook it exactly as much as it takes to cover all the elements. The main composition is still too early to prepare.
If there is a difficult terrain, one more preparatory work will have to be done. All cavities, pores and irregularities are filled with liquid resin. The filling places are heated so that air escapes from the cavities. If this procedure is neglected, then when filling the base layer, a bubble with air may form, it will be much more difficult to get rid of it.
After the cavities are filled in, the surface is sanded again, and the element is covered with a thin layer of resin. Any additional manipulation increases the production time by several hours. To engage in production, you need to plan your schedule. It may take several weeks for one countertop.
Production of formwork
The formwork will keep the tabletop in shape. The resin prepared initially has fluidity. It’s time for the manufacture of formwork – the time of solidification of the resin layer, which covered the decorative elements. The sides of the formwork determine the dimensions of the future countertop. In the inner space, a slab or other blanks should fit without problems. The perimeter of the formwork can repeat the shape of the board or be larger than it. If the area of the mold is larger than the area of the board, then layers of epoxy resin will form around the latter.
Metal, wood, plastic, laminate, plywood or chipboard are suitable as the material for the mold. Smoother surfaces are preferred, since after separating the countertop, irregularities will form in the places of contact. The sides of the formwork should be made slightly higher than the planned level of the tabletop surface.
Cracks are formed between the walls, through which the resin will seep. These cracks are sealed with a sealant. Here you need to be careful so that the sealant is applied evenly.
Experienced craftsmen go to such a trick: the index finger is wrapped in polyethylene or food wrap, and then soaked in water. The sealant is smoothed out and a perfectly even angle between the walls will be obtained. This procedure should be carried out as soon as possible.
Laminated chipboard sheet is ideal for creating a mold. If plywood is used, it is desirable to pre-cover it with wax or any other separating compound. You can stick an adhesive tape or spread a film. The film should lie flat, without folds, otherwise there will be traces on the ends of the countertop. An alternative option is a formwork made of glass smeared with a layer of fat.
Without a separating layer in the form of adhesive tape or special wax, it is impossible to separate the formwork from the hardened resin from almost any material. The adhesion of epoxy resin is extremely high to both laminated surfaces and metal.
The building materials store can provide many different types of resins to choose from. Resins differ in price and some important physico-chemical properties.
There are tempting offers for the manufacture of countertops, but inexpensive options will not work.
The resin must be transparent, and this transparency is stable over time. Today, the production of epoxy furniture is not a novelty, so you should look for resin for countertops in the store.
The following parameters serve as a guideline:
- minimum allowable layer thickness;
- maximum allowable layer thickness;
- full drying time.
We will briefly point out the significance of the above parameters. The minimum layer thickness of the wizard is not interested. Even if the elements are pretreated with a thin layer of resin, there are no criteria here. But this parameter indicates fluidity. The smaller the thickness of the layer, the more liquid the composition will be. This is an important parameter. The liquid resin must penetrate into all cavities and form a horizontal surface.
The maximum allowable layer thickness determines the number of layers for the manufacture of the countertop. This allows you to correctly calculate the volume of epoxy for waste-free production.
Beginners are recommended to buy brands that allow you to fill the countertop with epoxy resin in one step. Although it is easier to avoid bubbles and deal with them if they appear with layer-by-layer filling.
Layer-by-layer filling opens up more possibilities. Decorative elements placed in different layers create the effect of a 3D image.
It is necessary to have time to pour the epoxy so that it spreads evenly over the form. Even without skills, it is not difficult to meet in the shortest possible time. The shorter the lifetime, the more active the hardener is. The chemical reaction of the interaction of the resin components proceeds with the release of heat. The active hardener will provoke boiling of the resin and the formation of bubbles. It is necessary to choose compositions with a long lifetime indicator.
Calculation of quantity
The volume of the mixture depends on the dimensions of the countertop. In the case of creating reservoirs, the resin forms only a river. There are options where the plate consists entirely of epoxy resin. We will have to calculate the volume of the finished mixture every time. It is not difficult to measure the linear dimensions of a rectangular parallelepiped (often countertops are of this shape). Then the proportion of the resin volume should be determined. The results vary greatly.
Filling the countertop
The table top made of epoxy resin is filled with its own hands according to a certain technology. You can learn more about it using the video. Many professionals share their experience, show a master class. But the algorithm of work can also be described verbally.
- First, a wooden array or other decorative elements are laid out. If there is a base, it fits under the bottom. Some elements may float in liquid resin, so it is useful to take care of their static.
- The dye is introduced into the resin before the hardener. To mix the paint thoroughly, you need to use two containers. First, the composition is mixed in one container, then poured into another container and mixed again. This way it will be possible to avoid the presence of unpainted areas, which are usually localized at the bottom of the container. Only after complete mixing of the paint is the hardener applied. It will not be possible to specify the procedure here, since it is necessary to follow all the recommendations from the instructions for a specific brand of epoxy.
A lot of mixture can be used to fill the river at a time. In this case, the resin is mixed with a clean paint mixer using a low-speed drill or screwdriver. Since the mixing time with a mixer should be several minutes, the addition of the dye can be carried out at any stage, both in the resin and simultaneously with the hardener. The main thing is the thoroughness of mixing the mixture. The dye is dosed either drop by drop, or with a conventional disposable syringe.
First, the first layer is filled in. It is considered basic and should not be less than the minimum. Despite the fluidity of the resin, it is not recommended to pour it in one place. If the filling is layered, then you need to prepare a portion for one layer. After its solidification, the process is repeated and another layer is formed.
Modern compositions are made using new technologies. They are not inclined to form bubbles, but this phenomenon cannot be completely avoided. Even if the wood has been pretreated and covered with a thin layer of resin, bubbles are a common occurrence. It is possible to minimize it with layer-by-layer filling. You can get rid of the bubbles by heating the resin. Don’t overdo it. The bubble needs to be monitored. As soon as it starts to float, the heating should be stopped. An excellent tool is a construction hair dryer.
Previously, up to 35°C/95°F degrees, the resin can be heated in a conventional microwave oven at low power. The fluidity of the heated resin increases very significantly.
Removing bubbles is not a one—time procedure. Even if they are not present at the moment, they may appear after a certain time, while the resin is liquid. Professionals advise that after filling the layer with a hairdryer, periodically warm up the resin for 2-3 hours. It is dangerous to use the burner, the epoxy can ignite.
Polishing the countertop
It will be possible to start grinding and polishing only after the epoxy resin has completely solidified. Ignoring these processes will not work. The frozen mass looks unsightly. There is a cloudy coating on the surface, which closes the view of decorative elements. The presence of plaque is not associated with a violation of technology. This is a normal phenomenon. It is possible to achieve transparency by careful grinding and polishing. Sandpaper is used as an abrasive. To speed up the process, it is more convenient to take a grinder with the ability to adjust the speed.
After curing the resins for countertops, the surface does not become cloudy, but it takes the form of shagreen or very fine ripples. In any case, you can’t do without grinding and polishing.
First, a relatively large abrasive grain is taken, then it gradually decreases. Flaws in the surface are corrected with 800 grain paper. Reducing the grain size, it is necessary, eventually, to go out for polishing with 10-20 paper.
It should be noted that some resins are well polished, but they are hard to polish.
Polishing is allowed with the help of special pastes that are used for polishing cars. To give shine to the treated surface, the latter is varnished in several layers. The varnish will protect the countertop from moisture, ultraviolet light and temperature changes.
To polish the surface of the epoxy, it is better to use special polishes for stone and appropriate polishing wheels. Varnishing is necessary only for the wooden part of the countertops. It is impractical to varnish the surface of an epoxy river, it is strong enough and resistant to ultraviolet light, has a mirror shine in a well-polished form.