Are Epoxy Resin Countertops The Right Choice For Your Workspace?

Dec 15, 2020 11:00:00 AM / by Albert Cappello

Choosing a countertop for your workspace is about more than just aesthetics. Laboratories and manufacturing facilities rely heavily on the materials they select to ensure cleanliness, accuracy and longevity. 

Epoxy resin countertops, in particular, often wind up on the shortlist for their durability, resistance to chemicals and ability to withstand continuous heat exposure. That’s why they’re often found in environments like hospitals and medical labs, industrial testing facilities, and research and biological science labs.

But when weighing your options among the several types of laboratory work surfaces available to you, is epoxy resin the right choice for your workspace? If not, what is?

Below we’ll explore its benefits and why there might be a better choice on the market that provides the same level of protection at a lower cost. 


Epoxy Resin Benefits


epoxy resin countertopsEpoxy resin is a top material to consider for your laboratory. It is heavy duty and made from a mixture of materials that are then cured as a solid product. They are durable, non-porous and hold up very well under harsh and extreme conditions. 

Epoxy resin countertops also offer the following benefits:

  • High bacterial resistance
  • High fungal resistance
  • High corrosion resistance
  • High chemical resistance
  • High water and moisture resistance
  • High scratch resistance
  • Continuous heat exposure above 350 degrees F
  • Flame retardant
  • Holds up to impact and stress fractures

In other words, epoxy resin can take a beating and continue to look like new for years.


The Problem With Epoxy Resin


Epoxy resin is the go-to material in many laboratories where cleanliness and durability are extremely important. Epoxy resin is a great choice when you want to ensure your investment pays off. Despite its many benefits, however, there is one problem some facilities face when considering epoxy resin … its price.

Budget is a very real concern for most facilities, leaving laboratory supervisors caught in the middle when trying to choose a countertop material that meets the lab’s requirements but also falls within the lab’s budget.

Because epoxy resin is designed to withstand most extreme lab conditions and a limited number of manufacturers produce this type of countertop, epoxy resin is one of the most expensive materials you’ll consider

Epoxy resin is also a very heavy product, which means shipping costs may be more than another type of material. 

Because there is a backlog in the manufacturing process, since very few manufacturers make this type of countertop, you may have a longer lead time for your project. This can have an indirect impact on your budget or overall cost of the project since you may have to delay the start of your application until you receive the product. 

The decision to pay the extra price for this material may boil down to whether you need the additional heat resistance and the ability to use open flames on your lab countertops, since epoxy resin handles both of these well.

However, if cost is a significant concern, there is good news. Another type of countertop material can provide many of the same protections as epoxy resin … at a fraction of the cost.


An Alternative To Epoxy Resin


Phenolic resin countertops feature 90% of the characteristics of epoxy resin, but at a fraction of the price.

Phenolic resin countertops are composite panels manufactured by layering natural kraft papers that have been saturated with phenolic resin and processed under high heat to form a solid surface composite panel. 

Unlike epoxy resin, these countertops are lightweight. They are also hard, durable and highly chemical resistant. Other benefits include:

  • High bacterial resistance
  • Moderate to high corrosion resistance
  • High fungal resistance
  • High moisture resistance
  • High scratch resistance
  • Continuous heat exposure up to 350 degrees F
  • Holds up to impact and stress fractures

The main difference between epoxy resin and phenolic resin is that the latter is not flame retardant. If your facility uses open flames, this could be an issue that may persuade you to choose epoxy resin instead. Phenolic resin can also withstand continuous heat exposure, but up to 350 degrees F rather than the “above 350 degree” protection that epoxy resin provides.

Here’s one of the greatest benefits, however, that leads many lab supervisors to choose phenolic resin over epoxy resin is its cost. Consider this:

  • Pricing for phenolic resin typically averages $15 to $18 per square foot.
  • Pricing for epoxy resin can be as much as $100 to $200 per square foot.

You read that right. Phenolic resin provides 90% of the same benefits as epoxy resin, but at a much lesser cost. And because more suppliers offer phenolic resin countertops, you can get your product in a much shorter time frame.

One final thing to consider: Phenolic resin is an easy material to work with, and unlike epoxy resin, it lends itself well to customization. So if aesthetics are a concern, you’ll likely have more options with phenolic resin.


A Final Look


For lab environments where you typically see a sustained exposure to high heat or severely caustic chemicals, epoxy resin is typically the better choice. This material is heavy duty and performs very well under harsh and extreme conditions. Perhaps most importantly, epoxy resin holds up best in facilities where there are open flames.

For most other environments that still require a high level of protection against elements like bacteria, chemicals and moisture, phenolic resin is likely a more cost-effective choice for long-term use.


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Albert Cappello

Written by Albert Cappello

Albert Cappello is the CEO of Workstation Industries, Inc. WSI is a manufacturer of Industrial, Technical and Laboratory Furniture based in Southern California.

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