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04-19-2010 12:50 PM
Hi all, i'm an artist that has been hired to oversee the refinishing of 12 bar tables I created about 4 years ago. The problem is I just did the artwork on the tables and then handed them over to the old owner of the restaurant who had them finished with a layer of pourable epoxy resin about 1/8"-1/4" thick. They are scratched and some have yellow-brown spotches all over them (i'm assuming the heat from the plates maybe?). He wants them to look new again but I have no idea how to fix the epoxy coating. Anyone have any advice on refinishing this type of resin surface? I've read that it can be sanded and then repoured but I can't seem to find specific information. Any advice would be awesome! And if anyone knows someone living near the Memphis, TN area that has experience refinishing this stuff tell them to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org about a potential job! Thanks in advance!
04-19-2010 06:11 PM
Welcome to WOODs Forums. You chose the best there is.
Recognizing that you will get a lot of great advice concerning your poured epoxy table top concerns, here's an idea you might try.
Go to an auto body Supply store and get a polishing compound called "Finness." (sp) It's a very fine grit liquid that is applied with a power buffer that has a lambs wool "bonnet" on it. It's used to buff out automobile paint jobs.
If the scratches are no too deep, or the coloration is shallow, The Finness might remove the imperfections. If the scratches are removed, but the coloration is still there, you may have to sand the surfaces with a random orbit sander with several grits of paper and then polish with the Finness.
Good enough.. Isn't.
04-19-2010 06:30 PM
The epoxy coating is trash, and was a bad idea from day one. Four years sounds about right for the life expectancy of the epoxy coating. Of course, if the bar owner wants to have the same epoxy thing, you can have a sort of annuity, re-making table tops every four years.
Better to arrange for new table tops to be painted by you, and then properly coated by an professional operation that that the facilities to use suitably durable top coat materials. Conversion varnish or two-k polyurethane top coats could be much more durable than any process that can be handled in a small shop. Before actually repainting the artwork, be sure to arrange the top coating so you can work in media that will be compatible.
There are coatings, of oil based varnish, that would easily outlast the epoxy used by the bar owner, but those are oil based and could cause significant color shift. There are some relatively light colored varnishes (Pratt & Lambert 38) but these are as tough as the darker, more prone to yellow over time, phenolic resins.
Remember to make it clear you retain the copyright on the art so he can't hire a hack to copy them.
04-19-2010 10:02 PM
I think YOU had better re-think your answer to the OP, sir. There is not one word of help in your post. It tends to leave a bad impression about our forums to someone new here. A solution to his problem (ala Larry) is a lot better than chewing the OP out, and calling work he did not even do "trash". I think one could do better than that, sir.
That aside, one could buff out shallow scatches and such. Afterall, they do it with auto-body work. Once the scratches are buffed out, one could then re-coat with a similar product. Even if the "stains" are still there, the artist in you could alter the art work just a hair, and make a "statement" with the stained areas. Blend them in if need be.
04-20-2010 02:43 AM
…permit me to welcome you to the WOOD Magazine Forums, particularly to the Finishing & Refinishing Forum. I hope you will visit often. You will find a number of accomplished woodworkers and finishers here who stand ready to assist you with your finishing and refinishing questions.
That said, I believe you are dealing with a problem that cannot be satisfactorily resolved. These pour-on epoxy bar-top coatings have been the subject of a number of posts on this forum over the years. For the most part the advice is consistently not to use this “finish” in applications where long term durability and aesthetics are important. Your description of the condition of the tabletops; scratched, yellow-brown splotches and probably also cloudy is precisely what can be expected. Unfortunately, there is no effective (and certainly no simple) repair. Sadly, the “ugly” goes all the way through. You may want to engage in a bit of after-the-fact homework to confirm the universal nature of the problem you face. Visit a few watering holes in your area and carefully examine the condition of their tables (if similarly finished) that have been in service for more than a year or two.
Buffing, as has been suggested, will likely not polish the surface to anything near its original look. More likely, it will uniformly cloud or dull the surface since the epoxy is not all that hard and therefore does not polish well. There is a world of difference between buffing and polishing a hard (very hard) automotive finish applied over metal and doing the same to one of these relatively soft epoxy coatings applied over wood (“relatively soft”? Why else would it scratch so badly in just four-years?). It is also quite probable that a fair number of the “scratches” are actually very fine hair-line cracks. If that is the case, polishing will do nothing to eliminate them.
The only relatively simple solution that I can see that will bring some temporary relief from the problem is the application of a thin topcoat of the same “finish”. It will do nothing to eliminate the staining; but, it may temporarily mask the scratches and impart renewed “gloss” to the tables while replacements are being made. For the new tables, glass tops, or even replicable acrylic tops to protect your artwork will last much longer. Conversion varnish or a two-part finish could be professionally applied as has already been suggested, but even these will suffer over time in the envirionment of a bar.
I’m sorry. I'm sure this is not what you wanted to hear; but, it is the reality of these pour-on epoxy finishes in heavy use environments. They are a short-term throw away finish best applied to furniture with a similar life expectancy...
04-20-2010 09:01 AM
Ok, here's a thought. One could abrade the surface down far enough to remove the stains, then buff out that surface to minimize the scratches. A re-coat of the same epoxy coating would then fill in the scratches that are left.
Any attempt to strip away all of the "bad" epoxy (aka "Junk") would also strip away any artwork below it. Replacing the "bad" epoxy with a "prefered" brand of finish would have an impact on the colours in the artwork. Almost like wanting to put varnish on the Mona Lisa to protect it.
Auto body "clear coats" are an option here. You could abrade the old finish down to get rid of the deep scratches and stains. Then, spray on a few coats of the "clear coat". You would have to clean the surface of the epoxy for the clear coat to stick to the epoxy.
Bar tables get scratches, spills, and various hot items on them all the time. Unless one adds a layer of tempered glass to the surface, one will have a "re-finishing" job every now and then. Old scratched and beat up bar tables have a certain allure to them. Each scratch and dent would tell a story about that bar. Old Tavern Tables are prized for these "defects" by collectors. If the tables owner wants them to look like new, you'll have a re-occurring "re-finishing job" to count on down the road. Almost like a mechanic working on a Ford, he knows you'll be back.
04-20-2010 09:49 AM
One other idea has come up. Go to the "general" woodworking pages, and look at the post by Handyman John. Called "A thousand casts". Great info.
04-20-2010 12:06 PM
Man, Dawg, you get on Amateur 60 about trashing epoxy coating (to the OP, I know nothing about epoxy coating) and then you turn around and trash my F-150. I like my F-150 (LOL).
04-20-2010 12:48 PM
Spending time trying to rehabilitate these table tops would be a bad idea, not likely to work well, and certainly not likely to last for any time. That's good advise. Remember the OP didn't do the bad deed (ie. epoxy) just the art work. And, buffing epoxy isn't anything like color sanding auto paint.
As Steve agreed, there are dramatically better bar table finishes that the epoxy , I'll agree with him that none are permanant or really even close.
You did mention one thing in one of your later posts that does make sense. Glass tops, to cover the art work, would add dramatically to the life.