How to Use Epoxy Safely

Epoxy is a durable and strong material that is often used in construction for the repair or protection of concrete or steel structures. While its use is beneficial, working with epoxy comes with some risk. Risks are mitigated when safe working procedures are in place. In this using-epoxy-safely article, we go through the steps for working with epoxy safely, exposure issues, symptoms, and care.

How Does Epoxy Effect Humans

Epoxy is a chemical and as such it can irritate the body in a variety of ways. Overexposure to epoxy occurs by inhalation, direct contact, fume-absorption. Epoxy can be hazardous as a volatile (airborne fume) or as a particulate (dust or granules from sanding or mixing.)

Irritation from fumes can occur externally or internally. Direct skin contact can cause burning, but the greater danger comes from fume contact with cell membranes such as those in the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat. Symptoms may include burns, irritation or allergic reaction. Always read and follow the MSDS sheet information before working with epoxy. Also, work in a well-ventilated area either with direct wind current or by using a mechanical ventilator to remove fumes.

The Many Names of Epoxy

Throughout the construction industry epoxy goes by several different names. They are all epoxy and should be handled with care. Those names include:

  • Epoxy Resin
  • Epoxy Polymers
  • Epoxy Coating
  • Epoxy Paint

Regardless of the name, epoxy should be handled safely and mindfully so as to prevent accidental injury or exposure.

Tools and Engineering Controls for the Safe Use of Epoxy

Storage: Storage of Epoxy and Catalysts should always be in tightly sealed containers that prevent evaporation or leaching of fumes.

Ventilation: Industrial-grade hoods and ventilation systems should be used to control indoor air pollution or air contaminated with epoxy fumes. The goal of such equipment is to remove contaminated air before it becomes breathable. A respiratory mask that is rated for use with volatiles (VOCs) is also recommended.

Enclosures: Enclosures are very helpful when working with heat and epoxy, such as during the curing process. Heating epoxy causes greater off-gassing and the enclosure contains those fumes and pollutants until the ventilation system can remove them. Enclosures allow work to continue in other areas of a construction process by reducing the threat of exposure to epoxy fumes and VOCs.

Automation: Where possible, automation removes humans from an area where epoxy may be used. It may also allow for humans to work in the same area at a safer distance or even in an enclosure.

Personal Protection Equipment: PPE, or Personal Protection Equipment works in conjunction with engineering controls to increase safety by reducing exposure to chemicals. Basic PPE includes eye protectant such as goggles or a face shield. Gloves, aprons, and long sleeved clothing should be used to help reduce or prevent skin contract. Protective clothing such as gloves should be rated for use with epoxy. A fitted air-respiratory mask should be used whenever a VOC is present. The PPE requirements for epoxy use should mirror the PPE requirements in the construction companies safety manual. Training for effective and safe use of PPE is also recommended.

Individual Responsibility to Reduce Exposure

People who work with epoxy should follow a heightened personal hygiene protocol. Such a protocol includes washing epoxy residue off skin immediately. Caring for your skin by keeping it hydrated as dry skin absorbs chemicals. Making sure that hands, fingernails, and nail beds are free of epoxy residue. A moisturizing lotion helps to protect skin by forming a thin barrier.

Clothing should be removed and stored outside or washed immediately when you return home. Do not store dirty work clothing with epoxy residue in the same spot as other laundry.

Training and Teaching

Construction companies should take the time to train their employees in the safe handling of epoxy. This includes emergency response to exposure, such as eye splash situations. By teaching employees, the dangers warning signs of chemical exposure you decrease the risk of preventable accidents. Working smart is a valuable tool.

In addition to training and education about epoxy, train employees on the proper use of PPE and engineering controls. Doing so enables these tools to be used properly and can help reduce the risk of injury.

Education about common and uncommon symptoms of chemical exposure is also a valuable tool. By recognizing minor symptoms, employees can sometimes avoid more serious injury.

Epoxy is found in many products and is used as a sealant and repair product for both steel and cement. It is a product that has a high likely hood of being used on most construction sites. Being knowledgeable about the dangers of using epoxy helps to make its use more positive.

5 Places You Never Knew You Could Use Epoxy

Most people have heard of using epoxy as a form of adhesive. This simple substance is created through the combination of a hardener with resin. Once combined, the epoxy goes through a curing process, and it depends on the intended purpose of the final product as to the exact measurements that need to be followed. Epoxy has many advantages over products that are sometimes used in its place, making it the ultimate go-to product for a wide variety of projects. Here’s a quick look at five unique ways you can use epoxy that you’ve likely never heard of.

1) Marble-like Floors

Did you know you can paint concrete with epoxy paint and create the appearance of marble flooring? That’s right, and best of all, concrete floors covered with epoxy paint require minimal maintenance. In fact, warm water and soap is all it takes to provide a thorough cleaning. The correct steps to follow to create a marble-like appearance on the concrete is determined by the source of directions you go through. There are thousands of articles online that outline the entire process of creating marble-like floors, so you should have no trouble finding a process that meets your needs and preferences.

2) Painting

Are you an artist? Did you know you can use epoxy as a form of painting? Epoxy has to be mixed with a source of pigmentation to achieve a color other than white or opaque, which means you can make it any color you want. You can also make as many colors as you want and use them to create a beautiful masterpiece on a canvas. Do keep in mind that after you are finished with your painting, make sure to go over it with a clear coat of epoxy; this will help seal the colors and maintain their vibrancy. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when painting with epoxy resin:

  • You can apply epoxy resin over any other painting substance
  • Most paintings benefit from a 1/8″ thick coating of epoxy resin
  • Although epoxy resin won’t hurt a photo, it is permanent
  • Keep the painting out of sunlight and indoors to boost the durability of the epoxy, and to help ensure the photo doesn’t turn yellow in color

 

3) Fix a Leaking Pipe

Many people turn to epoxy to fix leaking pipes and other types of plumbing issues. If you are going to use epoxy to fix a leak, make sure you realize that it will take approximately an hour to cure. Still yet, a putty epoxy will be of the utmost advantage because it has the strength to keep the leak from returning. Its strength is so reliable that many boat owners turn to it as a way to seal holes in their aluminum boats. There are also many owners of RV that turn to the value and durability of epoxy to make water barrier repairs on their recreational vehicles.

4) Protect Your Charms

Have a charm necklace or bracelet that you want to make sure stays protected against harsh weather and chemicals? If so, you should add a protectant layer of clear epoxy to them. Not only will this keep the charms from being directly exposed to harsh elements, but it also makes them shiny and their colors appear brighter.

5) Make Screws Stronger

If you have a project that requires the use of screws, you can apply a coating of epoxy to it before insertion, which will lead to the screw being able to double its normal workload. Applying epoxy will also work as a protectant to keep the screw from working its way loose. It’s important to apply the epoxy with a brush or spatula to ensure it doesn’t come into contact with your skin. If it does, simply rinse off with warm water and soap.

 

No matter your reason for using epoxy, you can rest assured that epoxy products stand up to their reputation. As one of the strongest adhesives available, epoxy has become a common material among residential and industrial customers alike. If you’re needing a product to enhance your concrete and steel maintenance and repair, epoxy might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Make Your Garage Look as Good as Your Ride

Beautiful cars deserve a beautiful home yet many garages are just plain, unfinished rooms attached to a home. That’s really no place to keep a prized classic car or even a new luxury car. Yet, garages are not shrines. They should be places that are functional. Still, function and beauty can go hand-in-hand. In this beautiful garage blog, we look at some interesting design ideas that can turn your garage into the best room in the house.

Ceilings and Lighting

One of the first chores in turning your garage into a well-designed home for your vehicles is to address insulation. Garages get hot and very few of them have air conditioning. All that heat is not good for your vehicles or your building. If you are going to invest in making your garage look nice, deal with the heat so that you can enjoy the place year round. Add insulation to the ceiling and walls and while you are at it hang sheet rock on the ceiling too. A good way to help channel heat out of the garage is a vent fan.

Lighting is another key feature. You want lighting that shows off your vehicle. That single overhead light bulb isn’t going to do the trick. Install a few mounted fluorescent strip lights and then recessed spotlights that really show off your vehicles. If you have a work bench area make sure that you add light so that you can see what you are working on too.

Making the Garage Floor Look Professional

A good layer of epoxy floor sealant not only helps to protect your garage’s cement floors, it can help to repair cracks in them too. The look of epoxy not only improves the look of your garage it helps save tools, keep out pests, and prevent slips. Epoxy is a durable finish that lasts for years and it is fairly easy to put on with the right equipment. A nice gray epoxy floor shows off cabinets while a white ceiling helps give the feeling of more space.

Address the Walls

How many garages have you been in where the walls are just a row of exposed 2×4’s? If you’re lucky you might have unpainted sheet rock. That’s not the environment you want to house your ’57 Corvette in is it? Add insulation to the walls, cover them, and then paint. You can also create a stunning look with dark wood paneling and matching cabinets. If you go with sheetrock, add a neutral color paint and hang art. The idea is to create a space where you love to hang out with your buddies as you discuss vehicles.

Add World Class Storage

Nothing brings down the look of a garage then a bunch of clutter. You don’t want to open the garage door and have people walking by and think you are a hoarder. Your piles of “things” should not detract from the beautiful vehicles you drive. Storage systems are a great way to add beauty to your garage.

If you are not a fan of the pegboard tool storage system, then cabinets with pullout shelving is a must. Everything in its place is a good rule to follow.

Consider floor mounted cabinets and wall mounted cabinets to help contain tools, supplies, and gear. A nice work area with under bench room for rolling tool chests helps finish off the look. The epoxy flooring also helps rolling tools roll smoothly by filling in cracks and divots.

If you have classic cars and you do car shows, then consider adding a trophy case with lighting that really shows off your awards. Recessed lights help show off trophies and awards and they are easy to install.

Make It Easy to Keep Your Garage Clean

Once you get your garage looking beautiful you got to keep it looking good. Consider adding an area where cleaning tools and supplies are kept. A dedicated cabinet for your shop vac is also a good idea. A place for sawdust or absorbent material is also a good idea. Making it easy to keep your garage clean helps keep it beautiful.

Add in Amenities

A beverage center or fridge is a good idea because it is convenient. Plus, you don’t want to track gunk into the house if you are working on your car and want a cold drink. A first aid kit is also a good idea. You can increase the pleasantness of working in your garage by adding in a nice sound system so you can listen to the game while you work.

A good rule of thumb is to remember that this is a garage, not a man-cave. You want to build a place that shows off your cars. Of course, you could turn it into a man-cave but that may take room away from having a second classic car or place for your work-in-progress. Overall, creating a beautiful garage does not have to be difficult. You can do small projects one-at-a-time, such as coating the floor with epoxy. From there, insulate the ceiling and add sheetrock. If you are doing a kitchen remodel, repurpose those cabinets and save money.