There are many uses for epoxy resin, but for some, its natural color could use a makeover. Fortunately, there are several ways to achieve whatever colors you desire for your epoxy project! From homemade colorants to professional dyes and resin pigment powders, there’s color options out there to suit your needs.
HOMEMADE VS. PROFESSIONAL RESIN DYES
Homemade resin dyes made of a variety of substances found around the house may work perfectly well for your creations. To make these dyes, you can use chalk, ink, acrylic and watercolor paint, eye shadow and nail polish. 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. Other interesting, and perhaps unexpected, items such as printer toner powder and even herbs and spices have been integrated into uncured resin to create desired pigment. Some have wondered, can you use food coloring in resin? Yes! You can even add food coloring to the list.
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 pigmentation. A little goes a long way and will introduce color throughout the epoxy resin. For woodworking projects, you can even sand or cut the wood without it affecting the epoxy tinting.
Let’s take a look at some of the professional options you have for tinting your resin.
The texture of pigment powder is similar to that of ground chalk and has a matte finish. In fact, chalk is sometimes added to the mix as a filler. Pigments may be made from organic materials or inorganic/synthetic materials such as coal tars and other petrochemicals. When mixed with resin, they will show opaque coloration without shimmer.
Changing your resin color is easy and, as mentioned above, only requires a little bit to achieve results.
The above pigment powder is from our friends at Incredible Solutions.
If you're looking for epoxy pigment powder with a shine, look no further than mica powder! Mica is a natural stone that, when ground, becomes (that’s right!) 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 powder has a lustrous shimmer. Mica powder is naturally an off-white color, but takes to other colors well. This makes it useful for adding both color and shine and achieving a metallic look. Mica powder is also non-toxic!
LIQUID EPOXY RESIN DYE & ALCOHOL INKS
Liquid color concentrates mix easily with epoxy resin – and you should always use them judiciously. Adding too much liquid dye will offset the ever important epoxy to hardener mixing ratio.
Both liquid dyes and alcohol-based inks offer brilliant pigmentation in both opaque and translucent coloration. Epoxy dyes, however, are specially designed for use with epoxy resin and have a thicker viscosity than the more transparent alcohol inks. The pigmentation effects, then, will vary between the two products. Alcohol inks are also flammable and can be affected by common methods of removing bubbles, such as by blow torch.
Tinting epoxy with acrylic paint has its pros and cons. On the plus side, there are many choices for changing your resin tint and a variety of finishes, including glitters, metallics, neons, and glow in the dark options.
Possible cons include:
- the expense
- the need for extra careful adherence to mixing ratios (adding no more than 10% to epoxy resin mixtures)
- acrylics’ matte finish, which will offset the resin’s crystal-clear glossy shell
- the paint separating out in thinner surface coatings
On the other hand, a great way to incorporate acrylic paints into unique resin artwork is through 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 makeups, 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!
Pro Marine Supplies recommends trying our new Pro Mica powders to color epoxy resin. Make sure that what you use does not have an oil base because this can negatively impact the curing of the epoxy.
What you use to add color to alter your epoxy resin pigment really depends upon the results you’re seeking and the number of items you’re tinting. For small batches of personal hobby items, using almost any coloring that looks good to you will fit the bill. But for artisans creating a number of artwork for events, shows or otherwise for purchase it’s probably best to go with professional epoxy color powders, pigment powders, or dyes. This will ensure optimal and consistent results.
These professional options come in a rainbow of colors to suit just about anyone’s creative palette. To apply these pigments, you mix your epoxy resin first, and then tint as desired until the color and opacity is what you envision. Then apply or cast the mixture as usual.
Another consideration for epoxy resin dyes is color transparency and uniformity. Lighter weight materials will allow more light to pass through your creations while thicker dyes will provide darker coloration and less translucency. It’s a good idea to test-tint a small batch of epoxy resin to ensure the color is what you like best.
Remember that the two-part epoxy resin curing process relies upon strict mixture ratios; integrating another element into the mix may cause unwanted result. This is why it’s also important to test out your mixture before actual application and to ensure that your additives do not make up more than 5% of your overall mixture.
Mixing Tint Tips
You have a couple of options when it comes to mixing color with your epoxy resin. Once you're familiar with how to mix resin, the rest should be a piece of cake! A large factor you should consider is how much work time you have. If you’ve got time, you can mix both components of your resin first and then stir in the color to ensure a thorough combination.
If you’re working with something that cures quickly, like urethane resin, you’ll want to tint the epoxy (part A) before mixing in the hardener (part B). Keep in mind that the shade of the color may alter a bit once the material cures.