Yes, but there is a catch.
We were able to get MAS Tabletop Pro to bond extremely well to an oil-based stained piece of wood but epoxy resin and oil stains generally don’t get along. The stain can often create an impermeable layer between the epoxy and the wood. The resin will then “float” on the top of the stained wood and never penetrate into the wood. If that occurs you’ll have a weak bond and the epoxy resin could literally peel off the surface. If you have not already stained the wood, we encourage you to use a water-based stain. Another option is MIXOL its a concentrated tinting agent that can be used to dye wood or our resin and works famously with all MAS Epoxy Systems!
I already used an oil-based stain on my wood, how do I get the resin to stick?
Not all stains and not all epoxy resins are created equal.The stain we used for our testing was Varathane Premium Fast Dry it claims a 1-hour dry time, we let it dry for 5 days. We then applied a seal coat (MAS Tabletop Pro thinned with 5% denatured alcohol and applied in a 1/32″ layer) After that seal coat dried we deeply scored the surface and stuck duct tape to it. When you remove the tape, if the epoxy pulls off with it, you know it didn’t penetrate the oil surface.
Pro-Tip – If you take a clean white cloth and wipe down the stained piece of wood and no colorant or residue appears on the cloth, then the stain is dried.
The Video - w/ Special Guest Chemist Mike!
There is so much misinformation circulating about how or even if you can apply epoxy resin over stain, we decided to sit down with our Product Research and Development Chemist, Mike Schroeder, to get the real facts on if this can work, how we could make it work and what some of the best practices would be. There is an extra few minutes of bonus footage I added to the end where Mike just kept talking about the subject! Let us know if you like these “chemist talks!” We can cover really any topic so feel free to mention what you’d like to learn in the comments at the end of this post!
Epoxy Resin Over Oil-Based Stain Compatibility Test
Mas Epoxies Tabletop Pro
Scrap Piece of Wood
Clean White Cloth
Following the stain manufactures instructions apply your stain, let it soak in for a few minutes and then wipe off any excess residue. Let the stain fully dry.
Apply a seal coat. We used Tabletop Pro thinned down with 5% denatured alcohol. Keep in mind when you thin Tabletop Pro you can lower the physical and mechanical properties if you exceed 5%.
Other epoxies like our MAS Penetrating Epoxy Sealer could be used and can be thinned up to 50% but for this example we wanted to see if we could make this work only using MAS Tabletop Pro.
We did notice some surface imperfections when we applied the seal coat. Those deviations are caused by the oil and it’s repelling the epoxy. We ended up just dripping a bit more epoxy resin onto that area and warmed it with the heat gun and they vanished.
In some instances you can see deviations, which might look like ripples on a lake. Those are typically caused by a lack of epoxy resin. If you are doing a very thin coating, you can have peaks and valleys and the self-leveling properties can only go so far.
A good rule of thumb for your final flood coat: Mix up a bit more epoxy and have some left over. Trying to skimp and stretch material will only result in a lackluster finish. Plus it’s easier when you have excess!
The reference picture is after we did the hatch test and wanted to see if the epoxy resin would hide the giant gouges carved into the wood after we sanded it down… it doesn’t haha!
After your seal coat dries, you will want to score the epoxy resin deeply to the wood with a utility knife in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Then apply duct tape. Forcefully rip the tape from the surface if the epoxy stays glued to the wood then it has successfully penetrated the oil and has bonded with the wood. If the epoxy breaks off but pieces of wood are stuck to it, that’s also good! If the epoxy comes up and theres no wood attached it did not adhere and is incompatible with the stain.
Want to nerd out on resin a bit further ?
Let us know what you'd like to learn in the comments!
Mike and I will sit down and talk about the hard topics!