Epoxy tumblers have gained significant popularity as customizable, eye-catching drinkware. Crafters and artisans around the world are drawn to epoxy tumbler making for its creative potential and the ability to transform ordinary tumblers into unique pieces of functional art. However, there are times when a tumbler may need to be stripped of its epoxy coating, whether due to imperfections, design changes, or wear and tear. In this guide, I walk you through the process of safely and effectively stripping an epoxy tumbler.
If you are more interested in making epoxy tumblers and don’t need to know how to strip them yet, check this post out.
Why Strip an Epoxy Tumbler?
There are a ton of reasons why you would and SHOULD strip the epoxy resin off of a stainless steel tumbler.
Sometimes, imperfections appear at some point during the tumbler making process that necessitate a strip. Your vinyl decals may have come off at the corners, causing sharp edges that aren’t easily filed down. You cup may have fallen off the cup turner, resulting in a hot mess of epic proportions. Your glitter may not have fallen in just the right spot, ruining the vision you had in your head.
You may also have a shelf, tote or room full of tumblers than you can’t get to sell, despite having a sale or trying to give them away. Or you may be like me and only have a set amount of room in your cabinet for cups, so you have to rotate the designs you put on your own cups. Design changes are one of the biggest reasons I have for needing to strip epoxy tumblers.
Finally, wear and tear on a resin tumbler may leave it yellowing, faded or even cracked. You may also have a customer who accidentally dropped their new tumbler, resulting in a defect that can only be remedied with a redo.
Regardless of the reason, stripping cups is the easy way to not be out hundreds of dollars in tumblers.
Materials You’ll Need to Strip An Epoxy Tumbler:
- Protective Gear: You’re definitely gonna want some protective gear when stripping a tumbler. I recommend at the very least a pair of gloves like these. These gloves will keep your hands safe when using the chemicals associated with a strip. I also recommend protective glasses in case of splashes. If you sand the epoxy or paint underneath it at all, I recommend a respirator. You’ve only got two lungs. Take care of them.
- Pure Acetone: this is NOT acetone that you use to remove nail polish. This is the stuff you buy in the paint section at the hardware store in the gallon jug. I have used mulitple brands and as long as it is pure acetone, it works great.
- Container: A large plastic tote with a lid works great for this. This one is my favorite. Just make sure you ONLY use it for this. Stripping tumblers is a messy business, so you probably won’t want to use this tote for anything else.
- Scraper: A scraper like this one will help you remove the softened epoxy from the tumbler’s surface.
- Fine Grit Sandpaper: Once the epoxy is removed, you might need to sand the surface to smooth out any remaining residue or imperfections with fine grit sandpaper. Or if you’re lazy like me, get an power sander like this one.
- Soap and Water: To clean the tumbler after the stripping process.
- Something to line the bottom of your tote to catch all of the stripped epoxy: trust me, something like this makes the whole process so much less messy.
How Does Stripping Actually Work?
Acetone works by breaking down the epoxy. That’s cool and all, but I really only added this section to say one thing. One very important thing that a lot of tumbler makers seem to not know.
IT’S THE FUMES OF THE ACETONE THAT DO THE WORK, NOT THE LIQUID. The tumblers don’t have to come in contact with the acetone at all. That’s why the method I am going to teach you works so well.
Step-by-Step Instructions To Strip An Epoxy Tumbler:
- Prepare Your Work Surface: First thing you want to do is make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. Lay down a protective covering in the bottom of your tote to catch all the grossness. Trust me, it gets gross sometimes.
- Put on Protective Gear: Wear gloves, safety glasses, and a mask to ensure your safety until the lid goes on the tote. Put them back on if you plan on sanding. PPE is always a good idea.
- Add your cups: Place your tumblers in the tote. DON’T place them upside down, because eopxy can leak inside the cup and get around the rim. Cleaning that is a beast and I don’t recommend it.
- Add your acetone: Use a small glass bowl and pour the acetone in it. Place it in the bottom of the tote. You don’t have to use much acetone. I generally use 1/2-1 cup per tote, and I strip anywhere from 4-8 at a time.
- Close the lid: You want the lid to be as airtight as possible. I put some free weights on top on mine. It probably doesn’t help, but I pretend it makes the seal more airtight 🙂
- Let them sit: I have let my cups sit anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks (I forgot about them once). If you wait too long and everything gets dry, pour another 1/2-1 cup of acetone, close the lid and try again.
- Scrape Off Epoxy: Once the epoxy has softened, use a scraper or plastic spatula to gently scrape off the epoxy. Be cautious not to damage the underlying material of the tumbler.
- Repeat as Necessary: Depending on the thickness of the epoxy coating, you might need to repeat the application and scraping process to completely remove all the epoxy.
- Clean the Tumbler: After removing the epoxy, clean the tumbler thoroughly with soap and water to remove any remaining epoxy stripper residue.
- Sand if Needed: If there are any small patches of epoxy left or if the surface is uneven, use fine grit sandpaper to gently smooth out the surface. Be careful not to oversand and damage the tumbler.
- Clean out the inside of the tumbler: sometimes stray pieces of epoxy can get inside the tumbler. Make sure you clean the inside of the cup as well as the outside.
- Rinse and Dry: Rinse the tumbler thoroughly to remove sanding dust and any remaining residue. Allow it to dry completely before proceeding.
After this, you are free to make whatever you want with your “new” perfectly stripped tumbler. Hopefully you make something amazing.
If you need a place to get some awesome new tumblers for low prices, check out this article with some of the best places I have found to buy tumblers.
If you’re new to tumblers and need to know what you need to get
Stripping An Epoxy Tumbler FAQ
What if I only need to strip one tumbler?
If you only have one or two tumblers to strip, you can wrap them in a paper towel, pour acetone on the towel and then place the wrapped tumbler in a Ziploc bag for a few days.
How long does it take to strip a stainless steel tumbler?
I would let it sit for at least 3 days before you try and remove the epoxy and clean it up. If you take it out in 3 days and it still has quite a bit of epoxy that isn’t coming off, I would recommend repeating the stripping process. It may seem like a long time, but think of the money you are saving.
The spray paint stayed on my tumbler after my epoxy stripped. How come?
The base coat of paint is a little harder to remove than epoxy. To get rid of the paint, I recommend a sander. For little sections, you can use a rag and some isopropyl alcohol.
Can I paint a different color over my stripped tumbler?
I try to stay pretty close to the original paint color when using a stripped tumbler for a new project. That being said, if you are going from a light paint to dark (white to black, light to dark blue, ect), you can easily paint over the old stripped tumbler with the darker color.
Stripping epoxy from a tumbler can be a time-consuming process that requires patience and attention to detail. However, when done correctly, it provides a clean slate for your creative projects or restores the tumbler’s appearance. Remember to prioritize safety throughout the process by wearing protective gear and working in a well-ventilated area. By following this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to confidently strip and rejuvenate your epoxy tumblers.
If you wanna see the tumbler supplies I use all in one place, check out my Amazon store.