Understanding epoxy glue A clear guide

Understanding epoxy glue | A clear guide

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Epoxy glue is becoming more and more popular with passionate DIY-er as well as professionals.

If your project consists of wood, cement, metals, or plastics, or a combination of these, epoxy glue is a perfect choice.

But is all epoxy the same? And can all epoxy be used to glue with? The answer is no, not every epoxy is the same.

That’s where this clear guide will help you understand what epoxy is and how to use it properly, so you can get the best results for your project every time.

Epoxy glue is a resin-based glue to which a hardener is added. Usually, one speaks of a two-component adhesive, where the two components are packaged separately, and the glue is created by mixing the epoxy resin and the hardener.

Nowadays, there are also epoxy adhesives available whose components are already mixed. This makes using epoxy glue easier and faster to use. The disadvantage of these already premixed adhesives is that they require a higher curing temperature.

Epoxy adhesives or two-component adhesives are often used to bond materials when very high strength and durability are required.

This adhesive can also be used as a gap filler, making it perfect for use if you need to carry out repair work and restorations. Epoxy can be sanded, drilled, and painted, which is why this glue is becoming more and more popular for DIY projects.

After mixing the two components, the working time is only a few minutes, depending on the adhesive you use. In just a few minutes, the glue will already firmly bond the materials, but to reach the glue’s maximum strength, you will have to give the glue a few more hours.

Epoxy glues are used to join materials, where very high strength and durability are expected. 

What are the properties of epoxy glue

Before you start working with epoxy glue, you need to know what the most important properties of this glue are. That way, you can estimate whether Epoxy glue is the best choice for your project or not.

Below you will find a summary of the most important properties of epoxy glue:

  • The connections made between two materials by epoxy glue have a high resistance to chemicals.
  • Epoxy glue tends to absorb moisture.
  • A transparent, opaque, or colored bond can be made with epoxy glue.
  • Epoxy is a great electrical insulator
  • Epoxy glue has strong mechanical properties.
  • The bonding with epoxy is resistant to higher temperatures.
  • Epoxy bonds very well with a wide variety of materials.

Types of epoxy

Not all epoxy is the same, they look similar but have different purposes. So if you want to glue with epoxy, it is important to know the difference, so you can determine which epoxy is suitable for gluing and which is not.

Epoxy can be divided into 3 types,

  • pure epoxy
  • polyester resin
  • epoxy acrylics

Pure epoxy

One component epoxy glue

Most people know epoxy glue as two components that have to be mixed together.
But did you know that there is also one-component epoxy glue?
The biggest reason you would choose this is the ease of use because you can use it directly from the container without dosing, mixing, and removing air bubbles.

The disadvantage of this type of epoxy glue is that they require high temperatures to cure.
If you want to work with one-component epoxy, you will have to purchase a heating element to allow the glue to cure properly.

A one-component epoxy glue takes approximately between 30 minutes and an hour to cure. This is noticeably longer than with two-component glue.

Nowadays, there is also a one-component epoxy glue that can cure completely by ultraviolet light present in sunlight.

Another drawback is that one-component epoxy glue has a slightly weaker bond than the two-part epoxy resins, and they tend to be a bit more expensive as well.

Two component epoxy glue

The most common epoxy adhesive is the two-component epoxy. It is a glue that can be used both at home and in the workshop, and therefore a handy glue to always have available.

The two components in this adhesive are the epoxy resin and the curing agent. By mixing these together, a chemical reaction is created that ensures that the glue hardens within a few minutes.

A two-component epoxy resin can cure easily at room temperature, but increasing the temperature can speed up the curing process.

Polyester resin

Another type of resin commonly used in woodworking and industrial processes is a polyester resin. Note that, although the end products are similar, polyester resin is not epoxy, and is used for other purposes than glue ups.

Polyester resin is used in woodworking for, among other things, making stylish tabletops. 

Epoxy acrylates

An epoxy acrylate contains both the properties of epoxy and the properties of polyester resins, so it is a kind of combination of the two.
This form of epoxy is also not suitable for gluing, so it will not be discussed further.

Epoxy acrylates are an excellent fit for industrial wood, joinery, furniture, top coatings for flooring, and fillers.

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What can you use epoxy glue for

As you could already discover in the properties of epoxy above, this glue can be used for joining many materials. It is therefore a multi-purpose adhesive for the workshop. Below you will find more information and can see if you can use this glue for that specific project you are working on.

Epoxy glue for plastic

Household appliances, toys, garden furniture … all things that are mainly made of plastics and can break over time. That is why it is recommended to always have epoxy glue on hand because this glue is perfect for carrying out these repairs.

Plastics need a quick bond, which is why epoxy glue is one of the best choices for bonding this material.

Epoxy glue for metal

There are specialized epoxy adhesives made specifically for bonding metal

you can attach metal parts to each other, secure bolts and screws, and even repair unpressurized pipes.

The epoxy adhesive cures to a metallic gray color and after complete curing can be sanded or drilled. In addition, it is also water-resistant.

Epoxy glue for wood

These adhesives can be used perfectly for gluing wood or filling gaps in wood.

Personally, I’m going to use epoxy glue when I want to bond wood to another material. In just minutes, I have a strong bond that I wouldn’t have using other adhesives.

Epoxy glue for concrete or cement

If you have cracks in concrete parts or if you need to rebuild concrete surfaces, you can easily repair them with the right epoxy.
For all these jobs you can use the same epoxy glue as for gluing metal. The advantage is that after curing the glue turns gray and in many cases, you will therefore hardly notice the difference between the glue and the concrete.

Working with epoxy glue

Now that you have learned more about epoxy glue, you can make the right choice of which glue is best suited for your project. However, before you start gluing it is important to consider some safety considerations that can help you work safely with epoxy.

Although epoxy is a relatively safe adhesive to work with, eye protection is recommended. If there is a small chance that your eyes will come into contact with the two-component adhesive, it is best to rinse them immediately and thoroughly and seek medical attention.

When processing Epoxy, toxic fumes are virtually absent because it contains no solvents. Ventilation is therefore not an absolute priority, but always ensure natural ventilation during work.

When working with epoxy, you should also be more careful with signs of an allergic reaction. If these should occur, stop working immediately.

For more tips on working with epoxy, see the FAQ section below.

FAQ

Two components must be mixed to obtain a usable adhesive. The resin and the hardener must be mixed together at a ratio of 1:1 to form a homogeneous mixture.

How I personally do this is the following:

  • On my workbench, I stick a few strips of painter’s tape. On this tape I push the amount of glue I estimate I need.
  • I mix the two components with a plastic spoon. It is very clear when these have been mixed enough, keep an eye on the color and texture of the glue.
  • Then I apply the glue to the parts that I want to connect with the plastic spoon.
  • I don’t throw away the painter’s tape yet and use it to check whether the glue has hardened enough. For example, I must not touch the glued parts where there is no chance that the bond would fail.

I use the plastic spoon because it is easy to clean and eventually replaceable after many uses. I must admit that I still use the same spoon in the many years since I have started using epoxy glue.

After mixing the two components, the working time is around 5 minutes, depending on the adhesive you use and the temperature of the place where you are working. In just a few minutes, the glue will already firmly bond the materials, but to reach the glue’s maximum strength, you will have to give the glue around 8- 10 hours.

When the epoxy has completely dried and hardened, you can remove it mechanically by sanding or scraping.  

When the epoxy is not fully cured, it is softer and therefore easier to remove. You can do this by using acetone or isopropyl alcohol. Put one of these products on a cloth and rub the glue until it is completely removed.

Always check that the chemical does not stain your workpiece.

Try to keep epoxy glue as little as possible in contact with the skin. If this does happen, it is best to remove it as soon as possible. Soap and warm water are best suited for this and will get the job done.

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