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Epoxy coating for outdoor projects

My wife has been painting underwater scenes in acrylic. The way light breaks at the waters edge create a cool effect that she captured by recreating photos of these scenes at the master stroke of her brush.

In this post I’ll share what I’ve learned from the framing and epoxy top coat used on a very large rendering that hangs outdoors.

The project began with a 1/4” sheet of plywood which I lightly sanded and sealed with shellac so the paint doesn’t bleed. She then coated the board with a background color (orangth, my way of pronouncing Orange). Over the summer she finished the painting and the result was stunning.

For the epoxy pour I used total boat epoxy resin for its non yellowing formula with UV protection. I laid the painting flat and took the time to carefully balance it using a level which I moved around to confirm I am level across both axes. I used shims under the board to accomplish this. If the board isn’t completely level then you end up with a puddle at one of the corners of the painting instead of an even coating.

I cut strips of melamine coated project board and sprayed the inside with mold release. as you can see I. The phot I taped the outside but that was a mistake. Epoxy is wickedly smart finding any weak spot to pour out of. I had to come back with a hot glue gun to seal every part of the walls during the pour, a stressful event.

I did this in two pours, about 1/4” each, and used a heat gun to get rid of bubbles between each pour. The second pour was done two days after the first - not completely cured but hard enough to accept the next pour and slightly tacky to allow adhesion between the layers. I gave it about a week to completely cure

This is the end result:

Next was the frame. First I was concerned of warping so I glued a 3/4” board to the back of the painting. I also attached two long strips from 3/4” plywood which I cut at a 45 degree bevel. This would hang on opposite bevel board I would hang on the exterior wall to allow me to slip the painting on top of the boards. This is what I mean:

This solution forms what is known as a French clear and is very strong and durable. Here is a cross cut view of artwork hanging this way:

Now all I needed to do was create a massive custom frame. This was before I learned how to TIG weld aluminum so I resorted to brazing. First I got a few long aluminum “L” bars. Luckily there is a metal supermarket near me, and I mitered four pieces to fit the painting (48” x 96”). After testing the fitting I brazed the parts together using a small benzomatic tortch from a home center and brazing rods. Here is an online tutorial you can easily follow:

Once you figure out brazing the process is simple and hopefully your crate nice clean welds and not globs of deposited brazing filler…I used a rotating sander to finish this up and then coated the entire frame in black. I like to use a self etching spray paint from Eastwood because it adheres really well to metal. Before you spray it make sure to clean the aluminum really well with acetone and sand it lightly to improve adhesion.

Framed, painted frame and ready to go

Now I must admit that the last step is where I faced near death experience. Stepping up on a ladder with this massive sheet and the weight of the epoxy and backboard was not fun. It’s a two person job and my other person (my artist wife) was no match to the unwieldy artwork. I nearly flew off the ladder a few times and by the time I could slide it over the French clear I was sweating profusely and scared for my life.

Final placement

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