Update: Found a video of the process! The following video is great for Mirror Coat , Kraftkote or Envirotex Lite since they're essentially the same, self-leveling product. Envirotex Lite appears to be the best (and cheapest) of the 3. After looking everywhere, I finally found the best prices at Amazon.
How do you pour resin to finish a table or bar top? Is there a particular brand and source that you would suggest me using?. And last of all, how is it best done? I'm looking to make it clear, hard and protective similar to the tabletops with coins underneath at local bars.
This is done with a 2 part Resin and Hardener. I finished building a really big, 65 Sq. Ft. Bar about a year ago, using Envirotex Lite. Tech Services is very helpful. The stuff did a great job, in fact a buddy of mine has been drooling on my bar ever since, this week I'll start on his bar. Build a good dust shield to cover (but not touch) your bar top after the pour, this stuff is a dust magnet, and takes 24 to cure. And unless your floor is bare concrete... cover it.
Use the first thin coat to seal not only the pores in the wood, but cracks between slats. (My bar top made of red oak flooring, and the stuff ran down even the smallest crack) This may require two thin coats. Wipe down with rubbing alcohol between coats.
Best way to remove bubbles is with CO2... an old CO2 fire extinguisher did a great job!
Proper mixing is critical... use 2 buckets, mix well in the first one then transfer to the second scraping excess material from the sides, mix well in the second bucket... when you make your pour... DO NOT SCRAPE THE SIDES of the second bucket! Then, MOVE FAST... there is no time for a brew once you start to mix. The bigger the pour the bigger the challenge, you might want to experiment on some smaller stuff first.
Lastly, getting it at Amazon saves you a ton of $$ over retail.
The ones you see in restaurants are done using a mold of sorts and a peroxide promoted polyester (?) type resin (2 part mix, usually 2% peroxide, 98% vehicle). This is generally (but not always) sold only in 5 gallon pails to industrial users as it is extremely hazardous. The polymine 50/50 mix that you can buy in many mail order houses and craft supply houses will work too but only if you pour it on flat (horizontal) surfaces and don't pour more than about 1/8" at a time. Stand the bartop on edge and make a 'dam" on the edges with masking tape. Pour and brush (use disposable foam brushes) out. Use a hair dryer or a propane torch over it to evaporate the bubbles that form. Remove the tape. Pour a coat on the top, being careful to brush right to but not run it over the edge you poured the first time. Repeat the propane or hair dryer bubble dissolving process and, if you're REAL lucky, it'll be perfect at the edges. Runs can be ground off using 80 grit or coarser sand paper and a power sander. Note: Left in the mixing pot in a depth of more than 1/2" or so, the heat generated by chemical bonding is enough to melt plastic and, on rare occasions, to start a fire by itself. Use care when messing with the stuff...either stuff... polyester or polyamine.The stuff can be thinned and wiped off BEFORE IT SETS using any lacquer thinner type product, although Xylene works best for cleanup and as a thinner when necessary (never more than 5-10%). We used to turn out 4-500 music boxes a day with the stuff on all four sides and the tops....not much work but there's a real knack to getting the edges perfect.
If you want a finish, then I'd suggest Envirotex Lite or the various "Bar Top" finishes. Generally the bar tops are also heat resistant.These are acid-cure urea formaldehyde resins. Very quick and pretty easy to work with, but they stink like nothing on earth when freshly mixed! Goes away quickly though. I wouldn't use epoxy as an outdoor finish, as it's not good with UV. If you do use it, an opaque pigment will improve things. The bar top finishes don't like being applied over other finishes, but they're OK over epoxy that was used for crack filling. Mix your epoxy with a filler before applying; glass micro-balloons for a clear / translucent / white result or phenolic micro-balloons and a spot of green pigment to match darker timbers. The fillers will reduce the amount of epoxy you use, make the mix more viscous and easier to work with for crack filling, and make the hardened epoxy easy to work with a hand scraper. Over-apply and then use a #80 to take it down flush.
Extra Tips For Making the Clear Resin Top Smooth
The one time I saw it being done the installer used several decks of playing cards to smooth it out. (while wet of course) I don't know what product he used but it came out beautiful.
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