“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” – Claude Monet
There are a myriad of uses for epoxy resin, but for some, its natural color leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, there are many ways to achieve the desired color(s) for projects with epoxy – from homemade colorants – to professional dyes and tints – there’s a color out there to suit your needs.
How to add Color to Epoxy
Do-it-yourselfers and home crafters have successfully used color sources found around the home to tint epoxy for a variety of uses including home repair and art projects. Common items such as eye shadow power, ground colored chalk, kids watercolor paint, printer toner powder and even herbs and spices have been integrated into uncured resin to create desired pigment. Keep in mind however, that the two-part epoxy resin curing process relies upon strict mixture ratios; integrating another element into the mix may cause unwanted results – so test your mixture before actual application.
Tim Inman of The Woodworker’s Journal, a site dedicated to helping home carpenters with their DIY projects has this to say about tinting epoxy, “You can tint epoxy with dry rare-earth powdered colors. Do NOT tint with anything like oil paint pigments or acrylics. Do NOT use stains or solvents either. Do NOT add aniline dyes! They will turn the epoxy into rubber sometimes. Epoxy mixtures are critical. Do it right and you get what you want: a strong bond and an excellent hardness. If you mix solvents or other oily, gooey things into the epoxy, you might very well get something you do not want. Personally, I usually default to a little very fine sanding dust from the wood I’m using as my source of color. It doesn’t take much to do the trick.”
Colorful Pigment Powder
For those seeking professional products, there are a number of epoxy colorants available on the market today. From epoxy pigment paste for industrial uses like boatbuilding and construction, to liquid tints and dyes for commercial and residential; these colorants may be added to epoxy castings prior to the setting process to add desired pigment. A small amount goes a long way, and will integrate color through the epoxy resin. And when used in woodworking for instance, the epoxy & wood may be sanded or cut – without affecting the epoxy tinting.
Coloring epoxy resin is easy and, as mentioned above, only requires a little bit of pigment to achieve desired results. And a tip from one of our Epoxy Pros – mixing tint to the epoxy (part A) before adding/mixing in the hardener (part B) helps maintain working time (pot time). Also, the shade of the color may alter a bit once the material cures.
Let's take a look at some of the ways epoxy resin may be tinted:
Natural Mica Stone
Mica is a natural stone that, when ground, becomes mica powder. The material is found in a variety of cosmetics, paints, soaps and candles and is also used in artistic applications – like epoxy resin crafts. Since mica stones have a sparkle to them, their powders have a lustrous shimmer. While an off-white color naturally, mica takes color well, and is therefore often used for pigment, but is better for adding shine. Mica powder is naturally non-toxic as well, adding to its desirability in artwork projects.
Pigment powder differs from mica in that while mica sparkles, pigment powder has a matte finish. The texture of pigment powder is similar to that of ground chalk which is often added to the mix in less expensive offerings as a filler. Pigments base materials may be organic from natural sources or inorganic/synthetic made from coal tars and other petrochemicals. Pigment powders are great for coloring things – such as epoxy resin creations.
Liquid Epoxy Resin Dye & Alcohol Inks
Liquid color concentrates mix easily and well with epoxy resin - and a little goes a long way – so use judiciously. Plus, adding too much liquid dye will offset your epoxy to hardener mixing ratio. Both liquid dyes and alcohol-based inks offer brilliant pigmentation so again - a few drops will suffice. Epoxy dyes are paints specially designed for use with epoxy resin, and are a bit thicker in their viscosity than alcohol inks which are more transparent in nature – so the pigmentation effects will vary between the two products.
Tinting epoxy with acrylic paint has its pros and cons. On the plus side, the color offerings are many and vibrant and there are a variety of finishes including glitters, metallics, neon and glow in the dark options. Possible cons include the expense of this option, careful adherence to mixing ratios (adding no more than 10% to epoxy resin mixtures) otherwise consistency issues may occur, and acrylics cure to a matte finish; possible offsetting one of the main reasons artisans select epoxy resin in the first place – for its crystal-clear glossy shell.
On the other hand, a great way to incorporate acrylic paints into unique artwork is in 3D Resin Painting!
Misc. Tinting Materials
As mentioned earlier, we’ve known some of our artisans and crafters to use some interesting items found around the home to add color to their projects. These include powdered and liquid makeup, wood shavings, colored chalk dust, food coloring and various paints. Almost anything that can be added to epoxy resin may be used to add pigment to artwork and craft creations. Keep in mind however, that professional tints and dyes will help ensure the best results! Happy Crafting!
ProMarine Supplies recommends epoxy tint, or possibly trying powders or water-based paints to color epoxy resin. But notes, “Always be sure that anything you use does not have an oil base as that can negatively affect the curing of the epoxy. You can find many reasonably priced epoxy tints on Amazon or eBay.”