Epoxy resin has a lot of uses in the hobby and in the industrial world. When I started out I had some difficulties understanding what resin would stick to and what it would not adhere to so some of my first resin projects failed. To keep this from happening to you I made a complete list of materials that epoxy resin will adhere to.
As a whole, epoxy adheres to materials that have a higher or are close to the surface energy of the epoxy. Some of these materials include wood, steel, aluminum, stone, concrete, cured epoxy, ceramics, some plastics, fabric, and more.
Epoxy resin will stick to these Materials:
- Stainless Steel
- Cured Epoxy
- Plastic (Doe not stick to polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP))
- Polymer clay
- Nylon (not that well)
- Polyester (not that well)
- Polycarbonate (not that well)
How do Epoxies Adhere in the First Place?
To understand why epoxies adhere to certain materials better than to others we first have to understand why epoxies adhere to any material in the first place. So how do epoxies adhere?
As a whole, epoxies are adhesive because of polar attractive forces between the material and the epoxy. Materials have polarity which results in a high surface energy. When the surface energy of the material is higher than the surface energy of epoxy (~45 dyne/cm) then the epoxy will adhere to the material.
Most epoxies have a surface energy of about 45 dyne/cm. If the material’s surface energy is lower than 30 dyne/cm then epoxy will not adhere well.
Most organic and inorganic materials have a surface energy of more than 40 dyne/cm.
So most materials will stick to resin but there are a few exceptions like polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics.
But there are some plastics that epoxy will adhere to, like ABS for example. The common misconception that resin will not adhere to any plastics comes from the fact that PE and PP are simply the most utilized plastics in the industry right now.
If you are not yet very familiar with epoxy and you are not quite sure what it is and how it works then consider reading my complete guide on epoxy and how to work with it right here.
What Materials Does Epoxy Resin Stick to?
Epoxy resin will stick to most materials with a few exceptions. In the following, I will list some materials that are commonly used for crafting.
The list is in no particular order.
Wood is one of those materials that just work with epoxy resin.
It doesn´t matter what kind of wood, epoxy resin will adhere to it without any issues.
But you should seal wood partially with very little resin before pouring large amounts of resin next to it to keep the resin from being absorbed into the wood fibers.
If you don´t do that then you will have a bleeding effect along the edges where the wood touches the resin.
Stainless steel is usually quite hard to work with and especially difficult to glue.
But epoxy is one of the few types of resin that actually work on stainless steel.
Copper will stick to epoxy without any issues. But you have to clean the surface of the copper before you apply any epoxy to it.
Iron, similar to stainless steel, will adhere to epoxy resin surprisingly well.
Just make sure to clean it from any oils before you apply the epoxy or it might not adhere.
Aluminum can easily be glued with epoxy.
And you don´t need to score the surface before applying epoxy to it. Epoxy will simply adhere to the blank surface of the aluminum as long as the surface is clean.
Stone and Concrete
Epoxy will adhere extremely well to concrete and stone.
Because of the porous nature of stone and concrete, the epoxy will form a very strong chemical and mechanical bond.
Epoxy will also adhere to cured epoxy but make sure to either use the same epoxy again or a different epoxy with lower surface energy than the cured epoxy.
EPoxy will adhere very well to ceramics. In fact, it is probably the strongest glue you can use to fix broken ceramics.
Epoxy will adhere very well to almost any kind of paper.
But some glossy papers have a protective coat on them that can make it harder for the epoxy to adhere to the paper.
Plastic (Doe not stick to polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP))
It is a common misconception that epoxy does not adhere to plastic.
EPoxy does adhere to most plastics like ABS, for example, it simply does not adhere to polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) which are very widely used plastics.
Epoxy does glue polymer clay but the clay has to be cleaned first.
Some polymer clays develop a very fine oil film on their surface after they were baked in the oven. You have to remove that oil film to ensure that the epoxy can adhere to the polymer clay.
Epoxy resin will easily adhere to almost any fabric but keep in mind that resin gets hot during the curing process.
So fabric that melts or burns easily should not be glued with epoxy.
Epoxy is one of the few types of glue that is actually able to permanently glue glass in place.
Epoxy creates a very strong bond with pretty much any type of glass.
Like most other metals, epoxy can be used to glue zinc too.
Just make sure that the surface is clean of oils by cleaning it with some isopropyl alcohol before you apply any epoxy to its surface.
Tin is pretty much the same approach as zinc.
Clean the surface and then apply the epoxy. It will adhere to tin without any issues.
Nylon (not that well)
Epoxy will stick to nylon but not as well.
It is recommended to use a type of epoxy with very low surface tension to ensure a good bond with nylon.
Something like liquid art resin usually works ok.
Polyester (not that well)
Polyester has a very low surface tension so the epoxy will not adhere very well to it.
But it is possible to glue polyester with epoxy.
Polycarbonate (not that well)
Polycarbonate is also quite hard to glue with epoxy.
Epoxy will stick to polycarbonate but not as well as to other materials and it could separate with some force.