What is Flexible Epoxy?

B. Turner

Flexible epoxy is a type of sealant used to finish and repair a variety of materials. Compared to standard epoxy-based products, which are notoriously brittle, flexible epoxy offers some degree of elasticity and flexibility. This makes it less likely to suffer from cracks or damage when exposed to extreme temperatures, unexpected forces, or sharp impacts. Flexible epoxy can be applied to almost any material, including wood and metal, as well as a number of composites.

Industrial surfaces may be coated with flexible epoxy paint for a durable, shock-resistant finish.
Industrial surfaces may be coated with flexible epoxy paint for a durable, shock-resistant finish.

This product is commonly used to fix cracks or damage in products made from wood or fiberglass. It can be injected into wood or concrete to fill cracks, or applied in layers on fiberglass boats to seal holes. It's also popular in rubber roofing and flooring, where it serves as a flexible coating that is able to safely absorb natural building movements.

Flexible epoxy is also a popular finish material, and can be made into a type of paint to coat metal or composites. It may also serve as a protective membrane around sensitive objects during shipping. For example, flexible epoxy may be used to coat electronics to absorb vibrations and movement that may damage the item.

Before installing flexible epoxy, users must ensure the object is completely clean, and free of dirt, grease, and rust. This may involve basic cleaning, or processes such as sandblasting or pressure washing. Epoxy products must be mixed immediately before use, because they tend to set very quickly. Different types of epoxy may come in liquids, gels, or putty forms. The product can then be applied to an object using a paint brush, roller, or knife depending on the form.

Flexible epoxy comes in a number of different grades, or levels of flexibility. Standard epoxy is very hard, and offers little elasticity. Moderate grades may appear hard, but feel slightly soft and rubbery to the touch. The most elastic versions are very stretchy, and can be bent and molded like rubber.

One of the primary advantages to flexible epoxy is its level of shock resistance. It won't crack or shatter when exposed to extreme temperatures or sharp impacts. This creates a better, more permanent bond between the object and the epoxy. This material is also highly resistance to moisture, making it appropriate for many outdoor and marine-based applications. Some very flexible epoxies may suffer from wear or damage simply due to their soft nature, so their applications may be limited to some degree.

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