How can I get a non-gloss or matte epoxy resin finish?

Posted on 05 May 14:11

We spent a lot of time on matte finishes, and here is what we found:

 

1) they are almost always toxic!
 
2) if they are not toxic, they require a toxic resin in order to work properly.

 

Basically, a resin needs to off-gas (emit VOCs) in order for a matting agent to rise to the surface and alter the finish. (Yes that is how they work...)

 

ArtResin has no fumes, so all the matting agents we tested just don't work!

 

So, the best thing to do is sand the cured artresin with a fine finishing sandpaper (usually black...), and then buff on some wax from the automotive section, or roll on a varnish or polyurethane with the non-gloss finish that you want!

 

Shane Robinson, an artist from Hawaii shared his process with us that is GORGEOUS!


1. If there are pits or areas of uneven-ness, I start with either 80- or 100-grit DRY sandpaper on an orbital or vibrating hand sander. The goal being to create an evenly scratched surface. 

2. Then I start with the wet sanding using wet-dry sandpaper. It makes an absolute mess and takes a long time and you'll go through a LOT of sheets.
3. I start with 220-grit wet-dry with lots of water and constantly have to wipe away the paste that forms.
4. Then 400-grit wet-dry.
5. Then 600-grit wet-dry.
6. Then I try to jump to 1000-grit. If for some reason the 1000-grit is not taking care of the 600-grit scratches, I go back down to 800-grit and then try to jump to 1200-grit and skip the 1000-grit paper.
7. Then from 1200-grit I go to 1500-grit wet-dry paper.
8. Then you have to make sure you get everything very very dry. That's a problem here on Maui so I generally wipe the piece down and leave it sit overnight.
9. Then I use Turtle Wax Carnauba wax (paste form) and buff it on with a dry cotton lint-free cloth. Like the micro-fiber shop towels you can get at Costco in 100-pks.
10. Next trick it to NOT let it sit too long. The instructions say to let it dry to a haze but I found (and maybe this is due to the humidity of Maui) that if I let it DRY it leaves a haze when I buff it off.
11. I let it get about 75% dry, still slightly moist, and then buff with electric hand buffer.... Something like the following you can get at HomeDepot or Lowes: https://www.amazon.com/WEN-10PMR-10-Inch-Waxer-Polisher/dp/B004TA06QA (http://s.bl-1.com/h/H991QFP?url=https://www.amazon.com/WEN-10PMR-10-Inch-Waxer-Polisher/dp/B004TA06QA)
12. I'll do 3+ rounds of the waxing/polishing over the course of the day. You DO want to wait between polishing and rewaxing for the piece to "dry".

I've done this on large pieces, 48" x 48" and 30" x 80" and it's a total P.I.T.A..... And I haven't done it again for a couple years because it's so much work. But, the resulting finish is completely matte and most important is the surface touch.... It's difficult to describe...Slick as ice and silky smooth. People LOVE touching it and In encourage them to do so.

Hope that helps. Like I said, it's a crap-load of messy work and I would love to find a shortcut that doesn't require so much wet sanding....

Much Aloha,
-shane

Shane Robinson
Painter | Photographer | Technologist
website (http://shanerobinson.com)

 wasn't that great :)

 

Great idea though, We were creating a product that you could mix in that made it matte... but learned all of this and we are happier with a safe product vs one we can make Matte easily :)

 

Oh and if you Do want to learn more about matting agents and adding things to epoxy resin to change the final finish, here are a few other notes:

 

The epoxy resin needs to have solvents in it.  Solvents are the chemicals that evaporate during the chemical reaction when heat is generated.   Solvents turn into fumes.  

Artresin has no solvents hence no required respirator, assuming you are not working in a small sealed box.  This is why we can say 'no VOCs'.

 

When the solvents rise to the surface, they pull up all the small particles of matting agent that you had mixed in.  They sit on the surface and alter the top coat.  Often these matting agents are tiny tiny particles of wax.  But there are other ones too they have scary warning on the packaging.  

 

Wear a dust mask if you use these additives.  

 

Also, the amount of stirring that you do makes a difference.  When you mix in the matting powder into the epoxy resin, if you stir for 3 minutes vs 10 you may have different results. 

 

The more you stir, the more the tiny particles are spread out evenly at a microscopic level.  

 

Hope that helps 🙂

this is what I learned so far!

 

I suggest avoiding epoxy resin that includes solvents and give sanding and wax a chance!

 

Please share your suggestions for getting a matte finish with ArtResin below!