How Do I Mix Dyes to Create Inlays?

How Do I Mix Dyes to Create Inlays?

In your December 2016 issue, there is an article about mixing dyes with two-part epoxy to create inlays. It does not specify either water-based or solvent-based. Which should I use?

– Jeff Kelly
Worcester, Massachusetts

People have gotten away with coloring epoxy with both water- and solvent-based dye, but the manufacturers disagree on how wise that is.

System Three® Epoxy suggests using their “epoxy paste pigments,” available online for about $12, as the best way to color epoxy.

These colorants are made of the same material as Part A of the epoxy. That means you can replace any amount of Part A with color paste, then add Part B based on the total amount of your Part A mixture (clear plus color). Use more for opaque colors, or a tiny amount for translucent colors.

Replacing some of System Part A with color paste is one way to color epoxy. The next step is to add an equal amount of Part B to the colored Part A. A scale helps you be exact.

That’s the best choice, since anything else can result in unpredictable or uneven color, and can weaken the epoxy. However, I’ve added both solvent and water-soluble dye powders, gel coat pigments (available at marine supply stores), and finely ground pigment powders, such as Mohawk Blendal® touchup powders, all with more or less acceptable results. If you go that route, keep the added colorants below 5% by volume, and test the mixture first for curing and color consistency, since not all epoxies will do well with these additives.

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  • JimQ

    I have frequently used good quality acrylic artists paint to color epoxy. Just mix it thoroughly in with the resin before adding the hardener. You are only using small amounts so it doesn’t effect the portions.