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Bar top 2 part finish (epoxy/acrylic...)

Pascanale's picture

Here's a question that has been beat to death before but I missed the earlier discussions. I'm about to finish a restaurant's bar top along with the armrest and tray in a 2 part epoxy finish as dictated by the owner. The flat part is a no-brainer but there is a question as to whether or not I can get an even coat on the armrest profile. I'll need gallon-sized product so, nothing from the usual craft store is appropriate unless its also available in this larger size.

Can/should I use a foam applicator or a brush on the armrest specifically?

What brand should I use? Here are the brands I've come across:

 Famowood's Glaze Coat

System Three's Mirrorcoat

Envirotex Lite


Any particular preferences?

HowardAcheson's picture

(post #112124, reply #1 of 8)

One strong recommendation. Try out applying the epoxy to a sample shaped just like the arm. I have never seen a successful application of pour-on epoxy onto a curved surface. I have worked quite a bit with boats and boat repairs. Epoxy is very prone to run if you try to build up any thickness.


Pascanale's picture

(post #112124, reply #2 of 8)

One manufacturer's tech support said they don't recommend it yet their own website had a video of a table being covered including the vertical edges. They brushed the edges which is what I would do. So, there is a demonstrated contradiction. One thing to be said here is that its much thinner than the typical epoxy I've used on my own boat. What sort of work were you doing and what was the product?

I expect the runs but I'm not wanting the drip lines to occur in the middle of the surface--only the bottom edge where I can sand it off. I do plan on experimenting first on this technique however we are also under a time crunch. I'm in Pittsburgh, and they want bar finished by Super Bowl Sunday--do you think there might be a few patrons that day?

Go Steelers!

superfly's picture

(post #112124, reply #3 of 8)

I built a big "L" shaped bar for a friend on the weekends(I was working out of town),out of curly maple.Put a nice aniline dye on it,then put  the systems three epoxy on the top and was gonna finish it off with Generals finish armor-seal on the arm rest and foot rest.I went over to finish it he had put the systems three on the arm rest and I almost threw-up.It had ran and hung and dripped so bad I really did'nt want anyone to know I built it.Be careful what you use on the arm rest.The Armor seal has worked nice and matches for me.The epoxy might work but he was no wood worker.good luck.

Pascanale's picture

(post #112124, reply #4 of 8)

I spoke to someone who has done many of these commercially and he said he does NOT do the armrest in epoxy. He uses a lacquer-based (toluene actually) polyurethane for that part. Otherwise, he uses Glaze Coat from Famowood (people who make great wood fillers among other products). He's done these bar tops for notables like Outback Steakhouse and Max & Erma's. I met him ordering Glaze Coat from by telephone. They also sell the poly, called Duratuff, another Famowood product. Reading about it, it mentions it can be used over epoxy finishes to enhance their scratch resistance.

Between you and he, I guess my plan is decided. I do have a sample of the bar armrest that I can also fabricate a test piece for the client. Regardless, its a two step operation now. However, the poly dries quickly and overall, I have the time to get the job down by the drop dead kick-off time. This is a Pittsburgh bar and needless to say what the issue is.



superfly's picture

(post #112124, reply #5 of 8)

I hope you get it worked out.I know that the epoxy does not look that good on the armrest or the bar top that it ran onto that my client ruined,and I have never put it on anything except flat surfaces,I think he was worried about it matching.   Good luck.

Pascanale's picture

(post #112124, reply #6 of 8)

We're almost done. Successfully applied the epoxy to the top, and let it overflow over the back edge into the drain tray filling that and then over the back lip (the bartenders' side) and onto the floor. We belt-sanded the drips off the underneath.

We covered the armrest in 2 coats (so far) of the xylene-based polyurethane varnish. That might be enough for protection but it was red oak with Minwax pigment stain which isn't a great grain filler so the verdict is out in terms of appearance. I'll now tomorrow morning.  The red oak grain was also an issue on the plywood so we had to do two coats of epxoy on the top. That wasn't ideal in that we didn't flood the second coat quite as deep as we should have plus the heat of the first layer, I'm assuming, helped to set up the second layer faster than the first--it didn't level as good as I know it could. At least the bar is ready for the Super Bowl patrons.

superfly's picture

(post #112124, reply #7 of 8)

You should post some pics,I am interested in seeing the finished product.I need to get some pics of the bars I have done,and one of the bar with the screwed up finish an overall picture of course.

Pascanale's picture

(post #112124, reply #8 of 8)

Well, at this point its my worst commercial job I've ever done. We put down 2 layers fo epoxy as per recommendations when doing porous wood like red oak. But the second coat was apparently too thin to level along with the inherent heat of the first coat still curing a previous 6 hours earlier. That first coat wasn't but a fat 1/16 either. Nevertheless, I had instructed the client to be sure to keep the temp above 70 and they had--I had a digital thermometer there the whole time. Next, the recommended xylene-based polyurethane went on first coat pretty poorly. The client had already stained the armrest with Minwax stain and I couldn't sand it anymore than to lightly take some whiskers off. This stuff requires lacquer thinner rather than mineral spirits for clean-up. And, it went on and dried like brushing lacquer. Fast if you like that but not good at leveling. That's fine, so I'll have to sand a little more than usual on the next coat but that couldn't be done because I'll sand through and remove the stain because of hte original sanding wasn't thorough. So, on with the second coat. This went on like lacquer on lacquer--you really can't brush it much at all because its immediately melting into the first coat. But, I can't put it on thick or it will run on the verticals and I have to brush it hard because it doesn't cover easily either. I'm miserable! I've promised the client we'll make it all right. That means a full flood coat for the top with another batch of epoxy. That also means I'll investigate if I can use my usual Minwax or Varathane poly on the railing. I can put down varnish like it was sprayed--wished I used the tried-and-true all along but I listened to someone who swore by this stuff.  'nuff said for now. Pix will happen but the experience is priceless.