The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Epoxy Resin for Your Boat
In 2022, powerboat sales are expected to be in the 300,000s, nearly exceeding the record highs set in 2020. Choosing an epoxy resin to protect your boat can be overwhelming with all the options on the market.
When choosing the right epoxy resin, you want to make sure you get it right the first time. Make the wrong choice, and you may find yourself looking at costly repairs that could have been prevented.
But how do you shop with confidence when there are so many epoxy resin options on the market? We've got you covered. Read on to learn the most important things to consider when choosing a marine epoxy resin.
What Is Epoxy Resin, and What Is It For?
The last few years have seen a rise in popularity of DIY videos featuring resin being used for all sorts of things: furniture, jewelry, and even electronics! The primary use of resin, however, is to coat and seal materials.
Epoxy resin specifically is used to waterproof surfaces like countertops, pipes, and, of course, boats. After drying, the epoxy resin also contributes significantly to the durability of the material.
The waterproofing and strengthening properties of epoxy resin make it particularly valuable to boaters looking to extend the lifespan of their boat.
What To Consider When Shopping for an Epoxy Resin
Before you rush to buy an epoxy resin, learn about some of the ways to determine what's right for you. Below, we've listed the most important things to keep in mind when choosing the best epoxy resin:
What Material Are You Finishing?
Different resins are suited for different kinds of projects. You want to be sure of what material you'll be applying the resin to and see how it does for that material.
A good epoxy resin will be able to bond with a wide variety of materials like fiberglass, wood, metal, and plastics. Take note of any finish already on your boat, as certain resins don't bond well to each other.
What Is Epoxy Resin's Shelf Life?
High-quality epoxy resin can be stored for years, while cheap resins can last as little as six months. Depending on how often you use your boat, you'll likely want a product that you can use for a long time.
Using resin after its expiration date can cause serious problems with the finish.
How Durable Is the Finish?
Obviously, for your boat, you need a resin that provides a waterproof finish. Read the product details carefully to see if the resin is suitable for marine applications.
For parts of the boat above the waterline, it's technically possible to use a non-marine epoxy, but not recommended.
What you may not have thought about is sun exposure. Depending on where you live, your boat may be exposed to a lot of heat and UV radiation from the sun. Look for a product that resists yellowing and cracking from sunlight.
Consider how hot your boat's hull may get in warmer seasons as well. If you don't choose a heat-resistant resin, you could waste your time and money on a coating that will just melt off of your boat.
Other factors to keep in mind concerning durability are the resistance of the finish to impact and scratches. If your boat should bump into a dock, a stray log, or a boulder, a good resin finish should protect your hull from damage.
What Is the Resin's Curing Time?
Imagine you have a big fishing trip coming up in a few days but you still need to apply an epoxy resin. You get an epoxy resin ready to apply and when reading the instructions, you find out it takes a week to fully set. You'd either have to postpone the trip or forego the resin.
Now, we don't recommend trying to apply a coat on such short notice, but you should consider curing time when shopping for resin. Some resins take as long as a week to set while other resins may cure in just hours.
You should also think about how large the surface area is that you're looking to coat. If you have a bigger boat, you should look for a resin with a longer working time, the amount of time the epoxy resin remains in a liquid state.
What Viscosity Is Best?
Different epoxy resins have different levels of viscosity, or thickness. A more viscous resin takes more time to apply and cure, whereas you'll be able to apply a coat of a thinner resin faster and more easily.
One thing that makes low-viscosity epoxy resin easier to apply is its self-leveling property. A high-viscosity resin is more likely to be uneven, while a low-viscosity resin will even itself out.
A resin with too low of a viscosity level, however, will compromise the strength and shine of the finish, so choose an epoxy with the correct viscosity level.
Polyester vs. Epoxy Resin: Know the Difference
If you've shopped around for marine resin, you may have been surprised by the difference in price between different products.
One of the more inexpensive products you may encounter is polyester resin, which may be appealing for the price. But trust us; you do not want to skimp when it comes to protecting your boat.
So what's the difference between the different types of resin? Keep in mind that there are many other types of resin besides epoxy and polyester, but these are the kinds most commonly used for boats.
We recommend epoxy resin for use on boats. Epoxy resin is water-resistant, non-porous, and durable. Epoxy resin generally has to be mixed with a hardening agent, but the quality of the finish is well worth the extra effort.
Polyester resin may seem like a good choice for boats at first glance, mainly because it is cheaper than epoxy. However, if you use polyester resin, the finish will be much less durable and more water permeable than an epoxy resin finish.
Polyester is also much less effective than epoxy for repairs.
Another factor to consider about polyester is safety hazards. Both resins produce fumes and should be handled with care, but the fumes from polyester resin are more flammable and give off a much stronger odor.
Lastly, polyester resin goes through more shrinkage during curing than epoxy resin. This shrinkage can lead to cracks, which threaten the waterproofing of your boat.
Do I Have to Mix My Resin?
The short answer is: yes. There are types of resin that don't require mixing, but these generally aren't suitable for use on boats. Epoxy resin is sold alongside epoxy hardener.
Without epoxy hardener, the resin will stay in a liquid state. When you mix in the epoxy hardener, the mixture begins to transition into a solid state.
It is crucial to mix exactly the right ratio of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener. Being slightly off with your measurements could ruin the finish, so be sure to read the mixing instructions carefully.
To familiarize yourself with how the epoxy mixture behaves, try mixing a test batch to get some practice.
Applying Epoxy Resin to Your Boat
Once you've chosen an epoxy resin and epoxy hardener, how do you get a perfect coat onto your boat? You should read through the instructions on the product when choosing to make sure you have all the equipment and space you need to apply the resin.
Most epoxy resins will have a recommended temperature range and ventilation, so think about where you'll be applying the resin. Think about whether you'll be inside or outside and what the temperature will be like.
Ask yourself what tools the epoxy resin calls for and what safety equipment is recommended. Make sure you have everything you need before you start to avoid wasting precious working time.
Here's a great video on how to refinish a boat using our epoxy resin kit:
If you may need to apply multiple coats, check the instructions carefully before committing to a purchase.
Different brands of epoxy resin have different guidelines for applying multiple coats. This is because one resin may not adhere to a particular material the same way as another.
The instructions may specify a time range in which to apply additional coats, so keep this in mind before mixing your epoxy resin
Use This Guide To Choose the Best Epoxy Resin
We want to be sure you're getting the best product for your boat, and now you know everything you need to!
When choosing your epoxy resin, be sure to consider working and curing time, the material your boat is made of, the viscosity, and the durability. If you want the perfect epoxy resin for a shiny, durable finish on your boat, check out our epoxy and sealant products!