How to Color Epoxy Resin
Chances are, while scrolling through the internet in search of a new project, you’ve come across stunning waterfall tables, glow-in-the-dark bar tops, and table tops that look identical to galaxies. Many of these products can be sold for upwards of $12,000 yet what looks like a complex process is actually a common DIY method using colored epoxy resin.
WATCH: Our Epoxy Coloring Tutorial
Epoxy Used In The Video Above
Things to Consider
Any brand of epoxy will do when considering using colors. The brands that advertise their epoxy as drying clear are the best candidates for the job, as the resin tint will be more true to color.
Epoxy tends to leave a yellowish tint when set, so it is important to note that the colors may shift in shade after being mixed in. It would be wise to first start adding color to epoxy in a small container (e.g. a one ounce mixing container, a small disposable travel container, etc.). This is to ensure that you’re happy with the color produced and that there are no surprises when mixing in a larger scale batch. In these small containers, a small amount of your color should suffice for most pigments.
Applying Colored Epoxy
As with the process of curing regular epoxy, the process of coloring two-part epoxy is virtually the same. The epoxy and the hardener should still be mixed with a 1:1 by volume ratio, or as the directions instruct on the package. Be sure you have enough epoxy on hand prior to starting your project. You can use our calculator to estimate how much epoxy will be necessary. Once the two main ingredients are mixed, it is time to add the pigment. When adding the pigment to the mixture, it should comprise about 2-6% of the mixture by weight (generally speaking--there are always some exceptions). Depending on how translucent or opaque you want it, keep adjusting the amount of color added into the mixture until you achieve your desired result.
Top Rated Resin Colorants
Powdered pigments tend to leave little specks in the finished resin. If you’re going for that look then chalk, watercolor paint, eyeshadow, or any other loose, powdered pigment should be the go-to choice. However, if you want more of a consistent finish (sans particles), then liquid pigments are your best bet. Alcohol ink is an inexpensive liquid pigment that is a popular choice among epoxy resin dyes due to its opacity while still retaining the ability to be transparent when placed in front of light. Many creators use this as the pigment of choice when creating table top masterpieces, and for good reason. Transparent dye yields similar results to alcohol ink, but it is a tad more on the pricier side.
However, if you’re still stuck on which pigment to use, stores often sell resin pigment colors. These are created to be mixed specifically with epoxy, thus making them ideal candidates for your next project. Some even go as far as to sell phosphorescent pigment that glows in the dark. Glow-in-the-dark pigments are pricier than regular pigments, but they truly bring your project to the next level.
Mica Powder vs Pigments
If you’re familiar with the maker community then you should be familiar with mica powder – if not, then don’t worry, we’re here to explain it all to you! In this section you will be learning everything you need to know about mica powder, pigment powders, dyes, polycolors and when to use each one over the other.
What is Mica Powder?
Mica powder is what you will find most resin and epoxy artists use in their projects. Because it is a very natural and safe product to use, it is preferred by many – especially since it is revered as a non-toxic product. Now before we get started, this article may be slightly more scienc-ey than we’re used to getting on here, so bear with us while we go through it – we promise it’s important!!
Mica itself is a type of mineral that is typically found in India – some other major deposits can be found in Brazil and China. Otherwise known as Muscovite in the science community, this mineral is a sheet silicate (a specific type of salt combination) that forms parallel sheets of material on top of each other over and over again, with each layer being distinguishable from the rest. We are able to separate the layers while still allowing the material to maintain its lustrous qualities which is what makes it so popular of a resource in the art and cosmetic industries. In its raw form, you can think of it as a stack of sticky notes – each note is layered on top of the others to create the whole stack, but each individual layer can be identified and pulled apart when needed while still retaining its color. This is exactly what happens with mica!
Now in the crafting would, we are most familiar with ground mica – even in its ground state, it still maintains its shiny qualities, which is why you are able to find it in paints, cosmetics, and resin powders! In its natural state, mica is an off-white mineral that can have natural tones (like browns and tans) – only in their un-colored state are mica powders considered “natural.” To get the bright colors you are typically looking for in your projects, pigment must be added – this pigment is typically lab-made to be “nature identical” so that a certain level of purity can be achieved. Once added with heat, you get the powders you are most familiar with!
Should You Make Your Own Tint?
When the topic of creating things comes up in conversation, most people are apt to find a way to do it themselves because it will either, be cheaper or fulfill a desire to learn something new. Because of the complexities that go into making commercial grade mica powder, we recommend purchasing yours from a reliable source – though it is possible to make on your own if determined enough.
Easy step-by-step instructions can be found online but the general idea is that you grind up food-grade mica flakes (or purchase already ground, natural mica) and mix in different levels of pigment powder to create the shade you are looking for. Whether this works well or not is up to you and the level of outcome you are hoping for – but it never hurts to try it out and test it yourself!
Mica vs Pigment: Is There A Difference?
Now, you might be asking, “what’s the difference between mica powder and a normal pigment powder?”
Mica powders have a shine and a translucence where pigment powders don’t. By definition, pigment powder is an intensely colored medium that is used to add color to other materials – like paints, fabric, food, cosmetics, and, of course, resin – and has no inherent shine to it. This gives a “pure” colored look to your projects and leaves them with a matte finish. Mica powders, on the other hand, are used mostly for their shine and sparkle – this means that their coloring agents won’t be as strong or opaque as pigment powder.
When to use one over the other is going to depend on the outcome you are looking for with your project. Do you want a semi-translucent coffee table that catches the eye when you enter the room? Then go for mica powder. Do you want a sleek, matte finish to elevate the level of maturity in a space? Then go with pigment powder. The decision is yours!!
What Is Polycolor Pigment?
When it comes to coloring agents for your project, the options are endless. Some of our favorites to use are Color Creator's Mica Powders and Alumilite’s PolyColor Resin Powder. They are great for adding pigment and shine to any project you work on and come in a variety of colors and finishes.
Now that you know the difference, it’s time to decide which one to buy! And if you want our advice, it just depends! It depends on the type of project you’re doing, what you want the final outlook to be, if you prefer a matte finish or a sparkly finish, if you’re including other additives, and much, much more.
You just have to ask yourself what you envision your end goal to be and go with whichever one can help you achieve that! Feel free to reach out to us with any questions regarding which color additive to use?
Many individuals associate waterfall tables with a new type of project but the reality is, using pigmented epoxy to fill in cracks and dents in a table yields an equally stunning result. Epoxy resin is a widely used substance that serves as an inlay for woodworks of all kinds. It’s truly as simple as mixing the pigment with epoxy resin and pouring it into the dents or the mold you desire.
Even though there is moisture present in the wood, the epoxy resin does not have a negative reaction with it. It’s an ideal choice for a wood inlay due to its durability and high-gloss finish. For colored-epoxy woodworking, the best method is to overfill the grooves then (once dried), sand down the top of the wood until all the bubbles that rose to the surface are gone. Eighty grit sandpaper is recommended to start with, as epoxy is not that strong of a substance. Finishing a wood project with some sort of wax or topcoat, seals in the epoxy and gives a glossy finish to the work.
Overall, adding pigment to epoxy resin is as fitting for master woodcrafters as it is for avid-art-makers at home. While many of these projects look intricate, the actual process of coloring epoxy is quite simple.