What are the different types of resin?

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different types of resin

Which resin is right for my jewelry making project?

When it comes to resin, there are so many options!  I’m going to go through the possibilities here with a list of their pros and cons.

All resins are a two part system, consisting of the base resin and the hardener (or catalyst).  By themselves, they are inert compounds, but when mixed, a chemical reaction occurs where they cure.

A few terms you need to be familiar with when it comes to working with resin:

Pot time:  amount of time you have to work with the resin before it starts to cure.
Demolding time: is the amount of time after which you can remove the cured resin from its mold.  The demolding time is important if you want to pop the resin jewelry out of its mold in order to reuse the mold again without waiting for the piece to completely cure.
Cure time:  amount of time it takes the resin to completely cure.  If your resin is still goopy or sticky after the cure time, it’s not going to get any better.

There are four types of resin commonly encountered in jewelry making:

1.  Polyester. May also be referred to as fiberglass resin.

Pot time:  minutes
Cure time:  minutes to hours
Cost:  low to mid range  (especially cheaper if you use a polyester resin marketed for a commercial industry such as boats and vessels)
Safety:  can be dangerous.  very noxious smell.  must wear a respirator and work with a hood or in a well ventilated area.

Pros:  Cures to a very hard finish which can be sanded and buffed to achieve a shiny, clear surface. If the surface becomes scratched, that same surface can be polished once again. Pieces made from polyester can be bonded with more polyester resin to create larger pieces.
Cons:  Not UV light resistant.  Will eventually yellow with time.  Because it does cure very hard, polyester resin projects may break if dropped on a hard surface.

2.  Epoxy

Pot time:  minutes
Cure time:  hours to days  Demolding time may be shorter.
Cost:  mid to upper range.  Epoxies get more expensive the clearer you want your finished casting.
Safety:  safe. wear gloves, improve ventilation.  respirator not needed

Pros:  Widely available.  Best all purpose resin
Cons:  Cannot be buffed.  Must be finished with an additional layer of resin or a resin sealer spray to get a glossy finish.

3.  Polyurethanes

Pot time:  minutes
Cure time:  minutes to hours
Cost:  mid to upper range.  Polyurethanes also get more expensive with an increase in clarity and for water clear versions.
Safety:  may be dangerous.  Some polyurethanes must be used with a respirator and ventilation hood.

Pros:  Some come with a very quick cure time (under 1 hour)
Cons:  Very moisture sensitive.  May not cure well in humid climates.  Some color addtives do not also work well if they are not specifically designed for polyurethane resin (may attract moisture).

4. Silicone

Pot time: minutes
Cure time: hours
Cost: mid to upper range, especially for water clear silicone
Safety: safe. wear gloves

Pros: The perfect material for making molds for casting the other three resins above
Cons: ‘Rubbery’ finish. Not suitable for jewelry

So here’s my breakdown of how I use resin: I use epoxy for everything unless I am trying to cast something larger that I want to have a shiny gloss finish. In that case, I use polyester because I can polish it on my buffing wheel instead of using the gloss sealer spray or coating with another layer of resin. If I lived in a less humid environment (like the desert), I would definitely do more with polyurethane resin as I suspect I could work with it without needing a dehumidifier. The silicone is strictly for mold making.  (You can see our silicone molds for resin in the resin molds category.)  So now that you know a little more about the resins you can use for making jewelry and other resin crafts, don’t forget to read our article on how to make resin jewelry. You can also find all of our jewelry quality resin in our resin category.

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43 Comments

Katherine

Janna,

There are a couple of resin bead making discussions on the jewelry making forum. Go to the forum, then look under the link “How can I….”. Scroll down the page, there are at least two as of now.

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Janna

I would like to make some beads from resin. Is this possible and if so, which resin is best and how do you drill it?

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Ida

Is it possible to get transparent resin opaque if you use pigments? Or do you first have to dye it white and then add pigments? The reason I’m asking is because I need to cast parts for a doll and I’d rather use transparent epoxy since its (as I understand) less toxic. However, I’m getting worried that I won’t be able to get it opaque enough. I was planning to use your skin toned pigments. Do I need to change my plan?

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Katherine Swift

Ida,

You can use a dye with an opaque white resin, or use an opaque dye with a clear resin. Either should work just as well.

Reply
Laquanda

Hi! How would I achieve a matte finish? and what type of resin works good with this?

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Katherine

To achieve a matte finish, you will want to sand your resin with wet/dry sandpaper while underwater. (You don’t want to breathe in the dust.) Continue to sand with higher grits of sandpaper until you get the desired finish. Any kind of resin will have a nice matte finish when done this way.

Reply
Katherine

To achieve a matte finish, you will want to sand your resin with wet/dry sandpaper while underwater. (You don’t want to breathe in the dust.) Continue to sand with higher grits of sandpaper until you get the desired finish. Any kind of resin will have a nice matte finish when done this way.

Reply
Desiree

I’m trying to make marbles with clovers in them. I do not own a respirator and live in a small house so I cant use polyester resin, the marble must be polished to a very high shin but preferably without a spay finish, and i would prefer that it can survive being dropped, oh and i also live in a very humid area, But! i have a dehydrator… if i put the resin, mold and all, in there do you think that will work? it can be set to a lot of different temps. 95 degrees to 195. with a fan on the items constantly. should i go with the Polyurethanes resin id like to go no higher than mid range price. if you could email me at Kitsune3tail@gmail.com that would be great because my computer is giving be trouble so i may not be able to see this site for a month or two…

Reply
Linda

I am going to encase a WW 2 casing and the actual bullet for a veteran this is very special and I want to make sure I use the correct resin,he was thinking acrylic but I want clear resin and I have to put his on his dog tags so I will need a t ring to attach it to his dog tags need expert advice here please

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Katherine Swift

@Desiree, a polyurethane (making sure you use that dehydrator/dehumidifier) would be my choice of resin in this case. I don’t have a lot of experience with polyurethanes, but I think that would be the best choice. Please be sure to be safe as well. You may need to wear a respirator.

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Katherine

@Shubh

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you just by looking at it.

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Brandy

Which resin is common to make pendants to embed objects? I would like to buy the resin from either Hobby Lobby or at Walmart if available. Secondly, could someone explain what Mod Podge is as it appears it can be used for many things…..*confused*. Thank you!

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Megan

I am trying to make a bottle cap table. A lot of the articles day to use a resting, but never say what type or a recommended brand. Which resin would be best to use?

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Courtney

Out off all that one would you say is the best to use for jewelry and general crafts?

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Katherine Swift

@Courtney,

It really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re a beginner, start with an epoxy.

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shilpa

I am completely Fresher to resign jewelry making and i am very facinated to learn how to make can you please Help me where to start , hw to start , and other precoution to be taken while making resign jewelry.

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cherry

I want to put posts on my cabochon resins?Can i insert the post when it’s drying or do you suggest just waiting for it to dry then glueing posts with E6000?

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Katherine Swift

@Cherry, I would recommending waiting until they cure then using e-6000

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Dave

Hi, I’m wanting to glue artificial plastic moss onto a plastic object then coat with a non glossy resin to seal and give durability. Can you recommend a type of resin that will brush on and serve this purpose easily ?
Thanks for your advice.

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Katherine Swift

@Dave, I’m afraid there isn’t a good ‘brush on’ resin. It’s all meant to be poured.

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John

I am new to resin and would like to encase smaller print/photos onto a table top roughly 20″X36″X4″ having it clearly visible from both top and sides. What resin would best fit my need? Thanks for any input!

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Amina

I imake paper quilling things. I wish not to use fevigums fivcols or lacquer or varnish cos i heard they do have some side effect.
I live in mumbai india and i have no idea where i can buy epoxy resins n am searching it for six onths.
Can you help?

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Alexia

Virgin resin user here… I’d like to pour clear resin over some DIY artwork I made on canvas. (Two 16×20’s and one much larger 50×70). Any and all guidance appreciated! I live in San Francisco, which I suppose is “humid”, but not like what one would experience in Florida. Because I’m prone to error and have no experience, I’d prioritize ease of use over cost. Any thoughts on what product I should start with?

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saida

Hello i live in England and I want to use resin to pour onto to canvas and coasters I Want a clear shiny result what one would you recommend. I am struggling to find at local stores.

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Katherine

@Saida, unfortunately, I don’t have any recommendations for you. Envirotex Lite would be good for you to use, but I am unable to ship it to you in the UK.

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Katherine Swift

@Jamie, I have never made any ear plugs, so I’m afraid I can’t offer you any advice.

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Jamie

Hi,
I am going to make some ear plugs from silicone or polyurethane resin. Do you have any suggestions on how I can do this and what resin to use?

I need a product that is as light weight as possible for comfort in the ear.

Reply
Kathie

Hi great website thanks. I have a very nice wooden tray I just purchased and would like to do the epoxy resin on the inside bottom of the tray and the 4 sides. how do I effectively do this b/c I am not able to just scrape it off? I will be using this outside and do not want water stains from glasses etc but don’t want to place anything in the tray to take away from the appearance. please help!
Kathie

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