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Old 08-25-2010, 12:51 AM   #14
andy_m
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 64
Latapoxy 300

Different project -- but since I commented above on the EBM Lite epoxy mortar, I thought it might make the most sense to make my comments on Latapoxy 300 here in the same thread.

In the future I will be avoiding resin backed stone tiles simply because the recommended epoxy mortars are so expensive. But in addition to the marble where I used the EBM Lite, I had already ordered some marble for a backsplash and it turns out that it was also resin backed. Ugh.

EBM has a pot life of 1 hour. Latapoxy 300 has an even shorter pot life - stated as 45 minutes in the data sheet. This is pretty worrisome, as it means that you have to have ALL your cuts done in advance and verified. There is no time to be running out to the tub saw as you can with cement based thinsets. With the EBM, I tried keeping the bucket containing the mixed epoxy in an ice water bath. This worked well, and I got two hours out of a batch (a very good thing!). Today it was over 100 degrees here, so I used the icewater bath with the Latapoxy, but I was still very worried about the pot life. I'm not a pro... I am not nearly as fast as you superstars.

When I opened the pail, I saw that Laticrete actually divides the material into 2 batches each of part A, B & C. This is a huge help, and is NOT done with the EBM Lite. However, I think 45 minutes is still a challenge. I would like to see the manufacturers produce epoxy materials with a much longer, more reasonable pot life.

However, I do have to say that the icewater bath trick worked even better with the Latapoxy 300 than it did with the EBM Lite. The Latapoxy seemed to thicken noticeably after about 45 minutes, but it was still workable and trowelable. The stuff on the side of the bucket cured to very hard... but the material at the bottom - in the icewater bath - was usable for a total of about 3 hours! I actually had time to finish my project, and even was able to repair a slate tile on my patio that had popped off (originally flexbond).

As far as usability, the Latapoxy is not nearly as thick as the EBM Lite. The EBM was a bit of a bear to trowel out, as it wanted to roll up. The Latapoxy, however, wets the surface much better and trowels very, very nicely. It is far more pleasant to work with.

I was also very favorably impressed with the ease of cleanup of Latapoxy 300. EBM cleaned with water fine until it started to kick... even though the material was still workable, the water seemed to stop being an effective cleaner. Fortunately I had lacquer thinner on hand. Latapoxy 300, on the other hand, seems to clean very easily with clear water all throughout the job. It's all I used to clean up the tiles, and to clean up the trowels afterwards. Being able to clean up with water is very, very nice. I did toss the bucket though... the stuff that was not in close contact with the icewater bath got pretty hard. The "cold" material would have been cleanable but epoxy is, no matter what, a mess... and buckets are after all, only $2.50. Tossed the sponges, too... they get pretty loaded with resin and it's not clear that they will ever rinse out completely.

Setting the tile and getting the right height is pretty easy with both materials. I actually liked both materials better than regular cement based thinset in this respect. But with either, you don't want any bigger of a notch size than absolutely necessary.... first of all, I think you get better coverage with a smaller notch. But even more importantly, cleaning thinset out of the grout spaces is not fun but cleaning epoxy thinset is a little taste of hell. Best to avoid the problem by using the smallest notch you can get away with and still get coverage.

Sag performance of the Latapoxy was worse than using regular thinset, but it was not a problem at all in my application. EBM Lite is advertised as being non-sag. It is notably thicker than the Latapoxy, but I can't comment on the sag since I was not using the EBM on a wall or heavy stone application. Sorry, but I just didn't test it in that way.

Overall, I thought Latapoxy 300 was a very good material. My only real complaint is the 45 minute pot life, but with it being split into two batches Laticrete has addressed that in a good way. Even so, I DEFINITELY recommend double bucketing in an ice water bath to stretch the pot life. And hopefully the chemists can come up with a little more pot life... the ice water is a pain. Love the product, but 45 minutes is just not enough time.

I will still be avoiding resin backed stone in the future. I enjoyed working with Latapoxy 300 and had none of the the frustration troweling it out that I had with the EBM... but the bottom line is that these epoxy materials are very pricey. If a project needs an epoxy and it's unavoidable, then I would definitely go with the Latapoxy 300 again.
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