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clear epoxy vs. oil-based polyurethane

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Posted by chris_harper2 on May 02, 2003 at 10:24:10:

In Reply to: Just a little question before I go out and buy my supplies posted by Krystal19_85 on May 02, 2003 at 09:56:05:

:What are the beniifits and downfalls of Oil-based Poly and Clear Epoxy.

Pros of oil-based poly:

*Can choose finish (flat, semi-gloss, satin, etc.)

*Shows off wood-grain better than clear epoxy.

*Cheap, readily available.

*Decent durability overall, but very good for ball pythons unless you have a specimen that constantly crawls in and out of it's water bowl.

*Slightly easier to work with than epoxy.

Cons of oil-based polyurethane:

*Very long cure time (not a problem for you from the sounds of it)

*pain to clean out of brushes between every coat

*possibly will require cage to be partially stripped down and re-finished every few years.

*can make the grain on wood "stand up".

Pros of clear epoxy:

*Less off-gassing over time.

*some products have excellent self-leveling properties and are actually designed to be poured on a surface with minimal brushing.

*for all practical purposes, a finish that will last a lifetime.

Cons of clear epoxy:

*can be harder to work with (depending on product)

*have to throw out brushes/rollers between coats (which in a way makes it easier to work with - less cleanup)

*does not show off wood-grain as well as polyurethanes (depending on what product you go with).

*solvents are usually worse than those of oil-based poly (although they don't offgas as long)

*typically harder to find and more expensive.


If I were going to be building cages for ball pythons and had a long time to allow the product to cure I'd probably go with oil-based poly. There is a very good chance the surface will last for a long time given the minimal humidity requirments of ball pythons.

But some of the better epoxies, especially those with the self-leveling properties, will make for a very smooth and easy to clean surface. These are typically the finishes you see on bar tops or tables and expensive restaraunts. An additional advantage to these products is that their solvents are not as severe as oil-based poly and typical expoxy.

Since you have a long cure time the solvents are really only as issue for when you're working on the cages and where you will let them dry.

I hope this helps. I'm a bit groggy from allergy medicine and will probably think of something important later.

Whatever you do, practice, practice, practice before finishing your cage. I'm sure you'll have plenty of wood leftover.

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