Epoxy resin is a type of adhesive coating that typically dries strong and hard. It is commonly used in marine applications on boats, surfboards, and as household & industrial adhesives and coatings. Many people refer to it as epoxy or simply resin.
If you want to get “sciencey,” epoxy is essentially a thermosetting polymer. It is composed both of carbon chains linked to other elements like hydrogen, oxygen, or nitrogen. The bond is made by a covalent, which means that the elements will have to share one pair of electrons among each other to remain together.
Epoxy is produced mainly after the reaction of a catalyst hardener with a resin. This two-part mixing process is essential to how epoxy is formed. Too much catalyst and the epoxy will set too quickly and may have odd shapes and bubbles. Not enough catalyst and the epoxy could remain sticky and continue to release VOC’s and odors indefinitely. We’ll learn more about VOC’s in a bit.
There are many epoxy systems in which you will notice that some epoxy functional oligomers or polymers are present in one part and some amine functional (or sometimes hydroxyl) liquids are present in the other part. Each amine must “find” one oxirane ring to etch, or the curing process can’t happen. The hardening process is carried out by nucleophilic etching of the amines with open epoxy rings. One of the main applications of epoxy is in floor coating.
Epoxy Applications in Industries
High-performance epoxies are used to make laminated woods for various purposes like building applications, walls, decks, etc. They are also used in products which require strong bonding. For example, they are known to be used in wood furniture (like we build) and even in concrete production.
Epoxies are among few adhesives which can work on a variety of surface such as glass, metal, stone, quality plastics, etc. furthermore they are also known to have better chemical as well as heat resistance than most of the standard glues available in the market.
Epoxy resins can also be used to provide quality as well as durable sealers for both concrete floors as well as industry grade protective coating for industrial equipment. Moreover, they can also be used to provide a high gloss coating to your exteriors.
Epoxy resins aren’t affected by weather, rain or storm, and they have a high tolerance to temperature and chemical reaction, and so they make an excellent coating material for your exteriors.
Use of Epoxy in Art
Using epoxy resin is in trend in countries like Canada, United States, Australia but is still quite unknown in most European nations.
Resin gives you the ultimate freedom to create an artwork which could enchant its viewers with its clarity and unique combination of gradients, shades, and colors.
To create any artwork with epoxy resin, all you need is some color pigments, and then we need to add them to the mixture. It’s up to your choice if you want to use a single color or want to mix up multiple colors to create unique shapes and gradients.
With resin art, you don’t always have a 100% control over the outcome, and that’s a great thing about it. Even experienced artists with years of experience under their belt haven’t been able to master this art. Honestly, epoxy art never fails to amaze me.
What are VOCs?
Volatile organic compounds or VOCs for short are a broad classification of organic gases with no strict definition. There are over 10,000 chemical compounds that can be classified as VOCs depending on your definition. Many products, such as building materials, cleaners, and personal care products, use chemicals that can be classified as volatile organic compounds. The VOCs can escape off the product and enter the air. This emission is referred to as off-gassing.
Product off-gassing is highest when the building material is new or right after the cleaner, or personal care product is applied. The question then becomes how long the off-gassing will last, and there are too many variables to give a simple answer.
Some VOCs evaporate quickly like the ethanol, in hand sanitizer. Other VOCs off-gas more slowly like the naphthalene or PDCB found in mothballs. Temperature is also an essential factor with higher temperatures contributing to greater rates of off-gassing.
One study published in the indoor air journal and NCBI  found that the average time range needed to elapse following renovation activities before normal levels of VOCs were reached was in the range between two and eight weeks.
Whenever possible use low VOCs products that have been certified by independent third-party organizations such as green guard and green seal. Ventilation is always important and will help supplement your strategy to reduce VOC levels.
Paints that have passed green seal standards and is labeled with low VOC tag must contain less than 50 g/L of volatile compounds.
As the government hasn’t set up any official standards to define what low VOC means, different independent third-party organizations have their own criteria to classify any epoxy or paint as low, high, or no VOC.
Paints that are labeled zero VOC do not necessarily mean that they do not contain any toxic compounds. They contain VOCs, but their amount is extremely low, generally in the order of 5 g/L, and have no impact on anyone’s health. But if you want to choose paints that contain “absolutely” no harmful elements, you should try natural colors such as chalk and milk paint.
Now let’s talk a little bit about the durability of epoxy resins. VOCs are toxic, but they are also essential to the longevity and durability of epoxy. Volatile organic compounds help epoxy resins dry faster and adhere to the surface longer.
For example, if you color your wall with milk paint (which is 100% natural), it will take 2 to 3 days for it to dry on its own and may require multiple coats just to get a smooth finish. That’s not with chemical paints.
Paints which have adequate VOCs will leave glossy and smooth finish just after 1-2 (maximum) coat and usually dries up in 4-6 hours.