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Epoxy is considered by many the ideal protectant coating for your bar top. With the right epoxy, you can create a non-slip, clear, easy clean surface that not only protects the underlying wood but also produces a refined and beautiful finish.
Epoxy is a synthetic resin that can be manufactured with different qualities to suit different industrial or crafting needs. Choosing the wrong epoxy can result in an uneven finish, bubbling, chalking, and even cracking. In this article, we hope to provide you with all the information you need to choose the best bar top epoxy for your bar.
Types of Epoxy
Most epoxy resins have protective qualities such as water resistance and scratch resistance. However, there are specific features of epoxy resins which make them particularly practical for bar tops.
Thickness of epoxy
A thin watery epoxy is ideal for bar tops. Thinner epoxies will auto-level after pouring, reducing the risk of an uneven coating. Due to the potential for during application of the epoxy, it is essential that your bar top has a rim around the edge and that you thoroughly check for any holes or cracks in the surface.
After mixing the two epoxy parts (usually called part A and part B), the chemical reaction will produce a lot of heat. The greater the thickness of the epoxy layer you apply (not to be confused with the thickness of the epoxy itself) the greater the amount of heat produced, for example – a 1/2 inch thick layer will get hotter than a 1/4 inch thick layer.
Heat can cause the final surface to be cracked or uneven, so if you require a thick coating of epoxy, it is recommended that you either use a heat resistant epoxy, or apply the epoxy in successive layers, waiting for a few hours between each application (depending upon the drying/hardening time of the epoxy).
Slow yellowing and UV resistant
Epoxies tend to cloud, yellow, and even chalk in reaction to UV light. Therefore, if you wish to maintain a clear finish on your bar top, you should consider a slow yellowing epoxy. Slow yellowing is often achieved via UV resistant additives in the epoxy formula.
It is especially important to keep the epoxy out of UV light while it is curing. Not only will the UV light result in a clouded yellow finish, but the temperature from the light may cause air pockets to form in the wood, causing bubbling in the epoxy.
Additionally, a varnish, clear acrylic, or other UV resistant coating may be applied to the epoxy after curing to give extra protection for bars with a lot of natural light.
This factor comes down to aesthetic preference, but before purchasing you should consider how glossy you would like your epoxy coating to be. Few bar top epoxies offer matte or satin finishes; therefore your choice is only in the degree of glossiness!
Heat and chemical resistance
Many epoxies do not react well to heat. When a hot object, such as a cup of coffee, comes into contact with the epoxy it may cause morphing, denting, or clouding of the surface. Some epoxies are heat resistant and would be an ideal choice for bars that serve hot drinks.
Chemical resistant epoxies are useful if you need to use particularly corrosive or alcoholic cleaning agents to remove tough stains from your bar top.
Quantity of Epoxy
Epoxy is usually sold by the gallon, though you may require more or less depending upon the size of your bar top and the thickness of the coating.
For these three common thicknesses you will require the following quantity of epoxy per square foot of bar top space:
1″ thickness – 0.63 gallons
1/2″ thickness – 0.32 gallons
1/4″ thickness – 0.16 gallons
Our Picks for the Top 5 Bar Top Epoxies – Reviewed
Here are our picks for the best bar top epoxies available today.
1. Crystal Clear Bar Table Top Epoxy Resin – Pro Marine Supply
The “Crystal Clear Bar Table Top Epoxy Resin” by Pro Marine Supply is a good choice for bars with a lot of natural light. It has a UV stable composition that is highly resistant to yellowing and clouding. The formula also performs well on impact, scratch, and water resistance measures. Overall, we think this is a fantastic epoxy that’ll fit the bill for just about any bar top. We place it as our #1 recommendation!
Consumers note that the finish this product gives when instructions are followed properly is clear, glossy, and very high quality. However, the application process must be followed carefully. The reactive heat is quite high, so successive thin coatings should be used during application. Also, the dry time is relatively long, and the epoxy must be kept above 75 °F for the duration of the curing process.
- High Gloss
- UV resistant
- Air release
- Color stability
- Good impact strength
2. Epoxy Resin Crystal Clear – East Coast Resin
The “Epoxy Resin Crystal Clear” by East Coast Resin has been a popular epoxy and has received some excellent reviews from consumers. It has a high gloss finish, is water and scratch resistant, and is surprisingly odorless during the curing period compared with similar epoxies. Additionally, it is slow to yellow in low UV conditions.
Some consumers report that the finish scratches more easily than expected, so a finishing varnish may be ideal to top off this epoxy. Consumers also note that it is necessary to stir the combined mixture thoroughly, as removing all the bubbles may take a while. A tip for removing bubbles quickly is to apply a flame (a blowtorch is ideal) around the surface of the epoxy mixture.
- Super Gloss
- Durable finish
- Nearly odorless
3. Clear Epoxy Resin – specialtyresin
Clear Epoxy Resin by specialtyresin is very similar to Pro Marine Supply’s product in that it offers good UV resistance and is a great all-rounder on other measures of bar top epoxy performance. As such, this product will be suitable for most bar tops but really shines in bars with a lot of natural light.
The main features that distinguish this epoxy from the Pro Marine Supply epoxy are that it has a shorter drying and curing time (45 minutes to dry, 24 hours to shrink). It also should be kept at a slightly higher temperature (79 – 82 °F) while curing. For the luxury of a reduced drying and curing period, you will pay a marginally higher price for this epoxy.
- UV resistant
- High Gloss
- Air release formula
4. Glaze Coat Kit – FamoWood
FamoWood’s Glave Coat Kit is a solid alternative for novice users of epoxy. Their professional packaging and instruction manuals make learning to use epoxy resin for the first time a much more enjoyable experience.
What distinguishes this product, however, is that it is heat resistant up to 120 °F. This will allow for warm plates and some warm drinks to be placed on the bar top without fear of heat damage to the surface.
It should also be noted that during the application process, this epoxy gets very hot and dries very quickly. Therefore it is prudent to lay many successive thin coatings, working slowly towards your final thickness.
- Heat resistant up to 120 °F
- Clear glossy finish
- Fast drying/curing
5. High Gloss Epoxy – Environmental Technology
Environmental Technology’s high gloss epoxy is a product pushing more towards the high-end market, offering qualities such as heat and alcohol resistance, a solvent-free formula, fast drying, and an impeccable high gloss finish.
A solvent-free formula ensures maximum protection to wooden bar tops, reducing the risk of corrosion and surface damage. If you are protecting high-grade wood, then it may be wise to invest in this quality epoxy.
- High gloss finish
- Heat resistant
- Alcohol resistant
- Solvent-free formula
- Fast drying
We hope that from the variety of epoxies reviewed in this article, you’ll be able to find the best bar top epoxy for you. If you are still unclear about which epoxy suits your bar top, leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!