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January 15, 2010 3 min read

A common technical question goes something like this: "Will XYZ paint work over your epoxy?" Or perhaps the corollary question "Will your epoxy work over ABC stain?" Our answer, which is almost always the same, often shocks the inquirer: "We don't know, you'll have to test it yourself. Here's how to do it...".

The obvious reason we offer the above answer is that we likely haven't tried the combination, and besides it is not our responsibility to assure that our products are compatible with those of other manufacturer's anymore than it is for another manufacturer to determine that his products are compatible with ours. Can you imagine calling the maker of ABC stain and asking if their product works under System Three epoxy?So, why don't we select a bunch of paints, stains and the like, for example, and run a series of compatibility tests? While arguably it might seem like a great service to our epoxy customers the only real benefit would be saving the user a little bit of time since any test we would do can just as easily be done by the user of both materials with the same level of confidence. Besides if we publish a list of what works and what doesn't work then we have assumed the responsibility of keeping such a list current. We would have to make sure that those who obtained an earlier version of the list have current information. How could we possibly notify all those who might be affected when a change occurs?

Compatibility changes can occur for many reasons beyond our control: The maker of ABC stain might change his formula slightly. Perhaps a certain raw material is no longer available and he substitutes another. He might have several plants around the country making the same brand name product all slightly differently to suit local environmental conditions. For whatever reason the ABC stain maker is absolutely under no obligation to notify System Three Resins when such changes occur. Would we not have assumed the liability for a failure when such a change causes a product to fail after we published that it would work? Would you as our customer be willing to pay a huge premium for our epoxy resins for us to take this responsibly off your hands? The cost of testing and retesting product combinations (how often should we retest, by the way?), publishing the results, notifying users when changes occur and paying for failures when we miss something is not something we will ever do.

What it boils down to is this: We can be responsible to you but we cannot be responsible for you. The Epoxy Book describes in some detail how to do compatibility tests yourself. These are the same tests that we do when we want to see how two products work together. Testing is not difficult nor are the results hard to interpret: If epoxy bonds to thoroughly dry ABC stain after two days it will still be bonded (absent outside forces) in two years or in twenty years. It does not decide to "let go" after a period of time, so long-term testing is not required.

So, when you call or write with your compatibility question remember this: We are being responsible to you when we tell you to check it out yourself.

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