When it comes to finishing options, epoxy resin is still one of the more recent developments in sealant history. This now iconic material is generally used as an immensely durable, high-gloss finish used to safeguard and preserve the beauty of furniture and fixtures made from less resilient materials, such as wood, marble, granite, etc.
But every material—epoxy included—has a weakness of some sort, sometimes several. Oiled wood can still rot, splinter, and decay. Marble can be scratched, cracked, and stained.
Even high-durability materials like quartz can absorb liquids and retain residues, developing deep stains and allowing bacteria to thrive, despite an unfounded reputation to the contrary—watch out for wine spills when using quartz! These can be big concerns when considering a countertop or bar top.
Thankfully, that's usually when a coating of epoxy resin saves the day. But, speaking of epoxy, what about it's weaknesses? What is the downside to having an epoxy countertop?
Read below to learn what to watch out for with epoxy countertops.
What is the downside to an epoxy countertop?
Epoxy resin has a few small downsides that need to be taken into account when deciding whether it's the right finish for your countertop.
Here's a quick list, which we'll cover in more detail below:
- Epoxy resin has only medium heat resistance—fine for most—not quite all—situations.
- Clear epoxy resin can yellow outdoors when consistently exposed to the UV-rays of the sun. This is avoidable, however.
- Epoxy is incredibly formidable and not easy to damage. However, if it somehow does get damaged, the optimal solution will likely involves a full sanding and recoating to return it to a "like new" state.
Alright, there's the list. Now let's take a look at these in more detail.
Potential Downside #1: Epoxy resin has only medium heat resistance.
While epoxy resin is highly durable in most ways, its heat resistance is not top-tier. When subjected to high heat (temperatures over 140°F), epoxy resin will begin to soften and be susceptible to heat damage, which often manifests as a small depression or morphing of the area in direct contact with high heat.
A premium epoxy resin like our UltraClear Bar & Table Top Epoxy can handle temperatures up to 135°F without breaking a sweat. In truth, this is higher than what it takes to cause severe burns to a person, and it's unlikely to be something you happen upon by accident.
Compared to many substandard budget brands of epoxy—which offer a lower price at the cost of a significant compromise in quality—a premium epoxy such as this makes for a substantial improvement.
For practical considerations, temperatures of 135°F and higher are almost never arrived at naturally. You'll typically reach these heights in kitchen environments both during and after food preparation, as the cookware involved is heated and then takes time to cool.
Solution: By using a premium epoxy resin, you can give your countertops a finish that is more than sufficient for withstanding heat.
For the heat emitted by cookware, you can simply use trivets to easily disperse it and prevent it from burning the epoxy or any other surfaces in your kitchen that weren't designed for high sustained temperatures.
Potential Downside #2: Epoxy can yellow in constant direct sunlight.
Epoxy resin, as a clear finish, tends to yellow when consistently exposed to the UV rays of the sun. The rate of yellowing varies by the quality of the epoxy. A subpar epoxy will exhibit yellowing (among other issues) much sooner than a high-quality resin.
The yellowing in this case is almost solely cosmetic—it does not mean the epoxy is structurally weakened in any way. Still, it can be considered an eyesore, so if you need your finish to stay clear and pristine, while also remaining in a location that is subjected to considerable amounts of UV, epoxy resin may not be the right call for you. That being said, there are alternative solutions.
Epoxy pigments are primarily made from finely-ground mica powder, sometimes combined with other additives to achieve a distinct shade of color. When the pigment is mixed into the epoxy resin, it imbues it with an opaque, multi-toned hue.
The benefit of using an epoxy pigment for an outdoor epoxy countertop is tied to the nature of mica powder. Because mica powder is both non-soluble and colorfast, it won't dissolve in liquid, and it won't change color due to sunlight.
Due to this, you can choose to use epoxy pigments in your resin batches to subvert the yellowing process through the presence of colorful mica powder particles.
And these pigments aren't solely just for avoiding this issue—they're also valued for their beauty, often used for indoor projects as well.
In our store, we carry premium epoxy pigments by Pigmently, a collection that delivers a wide range of distinctive tones with alluring textures.
Potential Downside #3: Damaged epoxy often requires re-coating.
This downside is actually less of a concern than it may at first seem.
Though it's true that damaged epoxy will often need to be sanded and re-coated with a fresh flood coat to fully clear the blemishes, it's generally a rare occurrence in the first place.
Solution: Since a good epoxy resin is nearly unmatched in durability, it's unlikely that it would get damaged under practical use. Of course, accidents happen occasionally, but it would take something substantial to have a notable effect on a cured resin finish.
Okay, so now that we've considered the downsides, let's take a look at the upsides.
What are the upsides to an epoxy countertop?
Epoxy resin has a variety of exceptional features that make it an excellent choice for a countertop finish and which also explain its popularity among DIYers.
Unmatched durability: You won't find a much tougher material than epoxy resin. This finish goes on clear, cures super hard, and then protects the substrate surface with waterproofing and exceptional resistance to physical damage.
Crystal-clear appearance: Premium epoxy resins cure to a crystal-clear, high-gloss finish with a glasslike appearance. The finish often enhances the look of the substrate it bonds to by deepening the colors while remaining fully transparent.
Low-maintenance and easy to clean: Epoxy, once cured, requires very little maintenance. The ultra-smooth bond of the material doesn't wear thin like other sealants and also prevents liquids and residues from permeating, making it easy to clean the surface with basic supplies.
One-time application and a long lifespan: You only need to apply epoxy once. After it has bonded to your countertop substrate and finished curing, a premium epoxy will last for years.
In fact, our UltraClear Bar & Table Top Epoxy will last for a minimum of 7 years, with the option to refresh it at that time with a simple recoating.
As you can probably tell, the upsides of epoxy resin far outweigh the potential downsides. There's good reason for why so many commercial and domestic locations choose epoxy for their countertop and bar top finishes.
Have questions? Want advice? Contact us!
If you have any questions about the pros and cons of an epoxy countertop, or if you'd like assistance in planning a countertop project of your own, please reach out to us at UltraClear Epoxy—our epoxy experts are ready to assist!
You can contact us via phone or email here. During business hours, you can also text chat online with one of our resin specialists by clicking the Help button at the bottom of your screen.
In our online store, you'll find a variety of useful tools and supplies, ideal for epoxy countertop projects, plus our award-winning UltraClear Bar & Table Top Epoxy and our UltraClear Deep Pour Epoxy.