Collection: Primaloc Epoxy Blog

An illustration of a large yellow question mark with adjacent text that says "Primaloc Answers: Should You Sand Table Top Epoxy?"

Primaloc Answers: Should You Sand Table Top Epoxy?

Table top epoxy, sometimes just called epoxy resin, is considered by many to be the default choice for epoxy resin finishes. In turn, table tops, countertops, and bar tops are some of the most common choices for this kind of resin in both commercial and residential projects. This is due to table top epoxy's well-rounded series of positive traits that allow it to be a superior sealant for many substrate materials.

Indeed, selecting a premium table top epoxy is ideal for obtaining the glossy, transparent finish that is highly sought after by enthusiasts and professionals alike for their furniture and fixture projects.

A Simple Application Process with Room for Nuance

Among sealant application methods, epoxy resin settles somewhere near the top in terms of simplicity and consistency. Though there are many different sealant types available these days, few match epoxy's general ease of use and customizability.

And the epoxy process, which is so straightforward, can nonetheless be modified to suit your aesthetic goals. In some cases this involves sanding.

Within this article, we'll discuss the sanding step of an epoxy resin finish. This semi-optional step is only necessary in certain circumstances, though it can be performed for almost any project to achieve its distinct aesthetic effect.

But first, let's take a look at the epoxy process as a whole, to understand the order of phases and which parts are considered fundamental.

A relatively close view of a wooden epoxy table top.

Epoxy Finishing: A Process Divided Into Phases

In virtually all epoxy finishing projects, a series of essential steps are generally involved, grouped into distinct phases known as:

  • The seal coat phase.
  • The flood coat phase.
  • The curing phase.

Each phase encompasses a set of smaller tasks that are needed to obtain a clean, strong finish. Some of these actions are brief and shared with the other phases at various stages throughout the process.

Some examples of these include:

  • Measuring and mixing the epoxy components.
  • The epoxy application itself, for both the seal and flood coat phases.
  • Removing air bubbles.
  • Allowing partial curing between layers.
  • And sanding when necessary.

Let's delve deeper into the sanding aspect, addressing the common inquiry: "Should you sand table top epoxy?" This question arises not only among new resin enthusiasts but also among professionals venturing into the use of table top epoxy for the first time.

Below, we'll take a closer look at the sanding step, with the goal of addressing a question we occasionally receive, "Should you sand table top epoxy?"

An orbital sander resting on a table surface.

Should You Sand Table Top Epoxy?

Possibly, though whether or not you should sand depends on a few factors.

Typically, sanding isn't required for an epoxy project in which everything goes smoothly from start to finish. The substrate material you're working on, if properly prepared, will naturally bond well with the epoxy, negating the need for sanding if a clear finish is your goal. This is particularly true for higher-quality epoxy resins like our Primaloc Bar & Table Top Epoxy.

For projects that do require sanding, though, understanding when and why you might need to sand an epoxy surface will help you make the right decisions for your project and enable you to address certain issues, should they arise.

With most table top epoxy applications, a single flood coating is perfect to attain the strong, clean result. However, the specific requirements of your project are what will ultimately determine whether sanding is a step you should take at some point.

Learn how thick a bar or table top epoxy finish should be here.

What Exactly Is Sanding?

Sanding is a process where an abrasive material is used to wear down and smooth out the surface of a material. It's an essential step in many crafting and building projects, not only for smoothing but also for preparing surfaces for further treatment or finishing.

While wood is typically associated with sanding due to its rough nature pre-treatment, sanding serves various purposes across a wide array of materials. In the context of epoxy resins, sanding plays a crucial role in ensuring strong adhesion between layers and achieving the desired surface texture.

A close-up view of a wooden epoxy table top finish.

What Does Sanding Do for Epoxy Resin?

When you apply mixed epoxy resin to a surface, the epoxy will form a bond with that surface. During this period, while the resin is curing and still pliable, it seeps into the smallest crevices and pores of the substrate, adhering firmly as it solidifies.

These tiny holes, though often not clearly visible, play a notable role in the strength and durability of the epoxy bond; a well-bonded epoxy layer provides enhanced protection, stability, and durability to the surface it covers. This is where the process of sanding becomes critical.

Sanding a surface introduces fine scratches, which may seem counterintuitive but actually aids in the epoxy application. By lightly sanding the substrate before applying an epoxy coat, you increase the surface area for the epoxy to grip, facilitating a stronger and more effective bond. This preparatory step is especially useful to ensure that the epoxy adheres as robustly as possible, maximizing the protective qualities of your finish.

Here are 5 common scenarios when/why you might need to sand your table top epoxy finish:

  1. To ready a substrate for receiving an epoxy layer, ensuring strong adhesion and a powerful bond.
  2. When prepping a fully cured epoxy surface for additional coats or to refresh the existing coat.
  3. For smoothing out imperfections that may have arisen during the epoxy application.
  4. To produce a matte or "frosted" finish on an epoxy surface for aesthetic purposes.
  5. To prime an epoxy surface for polishing to enhance its shine and finish.
A man about to sand a surface.

At Which Points During a Project Should You Sand Epoxy?

Sanding is a versatile step in the epoxy application process and can be necessary at various stages, depending on your project goals and progress.

Let's take a closer look at the situations we just listed to understand when and why sanding is essential.

#1: To Ready a Substrate for Receiving an Epoxy Layer

Before you apply the seal coat, which is a thin layer of epoxy brushed onto the substrate, sanding the surface can be beneficial, especially for very smooth materials. The abrasion created by sanding helps the epoxy to adhere better by providing a rougher surface for it to bond with.

#2: To Prepare an Epoxy Surface for Another Coating.

If you're working on a project that involves a flood coat, you'll have a specific timeframe (usually 4 to 10 hours) to apply another layer without sanding. Beyond this timeframe, the surface needs a light sanding to ensure the next layer adheres properly.

#3: For Smoothing Out Any Imperfections.

Once your epoxy has fully cured, sanding can be employed to fix any surface imperfections. This method can also be useful for small-scale epoxy projects like art and jewelry, offering a way to refine and perfect the final product.

#4: To Produce a Matte or "Frosted" Finish.

Achieving a matte or frosted finish involves using progressively finer sandpaper to gently abrade the surface of fully cured epoxy. This process alters the finish from glossy to matte, providing a different aesthetic appeal.

#5: To Prime an Epoxy Surface for Polishing.

Similar to preparing for a matte finish, sanding a cured epoxy surface for polishing involves using a series of finer grits to smooth the surface before applying polish. This preparation ensures a high-gloss finish that's free of imperfections, resulting in a beautifully polished epoxy surface.

Sanding Doesn't Have to Be Functional—It's Also an Aesthetic Option.

Ultimately, whether or not to sand your epoxy project hinges on the desired aesthetic outcome:

  • For Crystal-Clear Transparency: To achieve a crystal-clear, smooth finish, it's best to steer clear of sanding. Instead, concentrate on ensuring the epoxy cures in the right conditions and that you've mixed and poured it correctly.

  • For a Frosted / Matte Finish: A frosted or matte finish can be attained by sanding the fully cured epoxy to deliberately create this effect. Usually, this involves starting with a higher grit sandpaper and progressively moving to finer and finer grits until you're satisfied.

  • For a Translucent Matte Finish: For a semi-transparent matte look, sand the cured epoxy and then apply a layer of polish to attain a subtle sheen without full transparency.
A wooden epoxy bar top in a commercial bar.

Primaloc Epoxy: Premium Epoxy for Premium Results

When it comes to epoxy resin, Primaloc Epoxy gets the job done. Our epoxy resin is premium-grade, with high performance in every category.

Epoxy resin can be beautiful, strong, and long-lasting—which is why you shouldn't compromise on quality. With Primaloc Epoxy Resin, you get the ultimate finish in durability and visual appeal.

Protect your surfaces by giving them a rock-solid epoxy finish. Choose strong. Choose reliable. Choose Primaloc.


Previous Primaloc Answers: Do You Need a Heat Gun for Epoxy Resin?
Next Primaloc Answers: How Thick Can You Pour Epoxy?