How to Choose the Best Epoxy Resin for the Job

Best epoxy resin choicesSo you’re ready to try your first resin project, but you’re confused about which epoxy is the best resin. There are so many choices out there. How are you supposed to sort through them all to decide which specific formula you should use? Or maybe you’ve already used resin only to have a sticky, gooey mess and no idea why.

It’s not your fault. I remember my first experience of trying resin, and it was a dumpster fire. Okay, not literally, but there were so many bubbles in my resin that it looked like I was serving up seltzer water, not a resin pendant. That was fifteen years ago, and since then, it’s been my mission to help other artists and crafters with their projects and avoid a disaster.

What’s their number one burning question?

‘Which is the best epoxy resin so I can make something beautiful?

resin painting black frame

While it’s easy to focus on choosing the best epoxy resin, the question needs to be, ‘What is the best epoxy resin for what I want to make?

Let me start with a story.

Imagine you have a cow and that she is hungry.  You decide the cow needs some hay, but you don’t have any. No worries though, as the hay farm is only a few miles down the road. ‘I’ll drive down there and pick up some hay.’ You go to your garage, and your vehicle choices include a big, heavy-duty pickup truck and a two-seater, mini car.

Which one are you going to use?

While we all agree that we can use either vehicle to get the hay, the truck is more suitable.  It will be easier to haul the hay, you can carry more at one time, and it cleans up faster than the car.

Choosing the best epoxy resin works the same way. You’ve got to know what you’re going to do with it before you buy it. Not only does using the right epoxy resin give you the best, finished project, but you will feel proud and accomplished of what you’ve made instead of having an ugly cry moment.  (Been there!)

Here’s how to choose the best epoxy for your resin project:

measuring and mixing resin and hardener

You must decide if you need a casting resin or a coating resin.

Casting resins mix in a thin consistency, allowing them to release bubbles quickly. You can pour them in thick layers, but you must use them in something with sides, like resin molds or a table space because they are a watery consistency.

Coating resins, also known as doming resins, mix thicker and self-level, giving a glossy surface coating. Because they combine thick, they shouldn’t be used in molds because they will hold onto bubbles. Instead, you can use this resin formula to give a shiny finish to jewelry blanks, tumblers, artwork, countertops, tiles, and more.

Now that you’ve decided between a casting resin and a doming resin, you are ready to pick the specific epoxy resin that’s best for your project.

How exactly do you do that?

Going back to the pickup truck example, why do some people like one truck brand over another? Perhaps it’s the killer sound system or extra-large seats. Maybe it’s fuel efficiency or even the color. The point is, there are specific things that might be important to you but not so essential to me. That’s where learning more details about the particular resin formulas are helpful.

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filling a silicone molds with clear epoxy

Here are three more details you need to know about choosing the best epoxy resin for your project.

Mixing amount

To make sure your resin cures as expected, you need to mix a total amount (Part A plus Part B) that falls in this range.

Pot time

This is the amount of time you have to work with the resin once you mix the two parts together. You may also see this called open time or working time.

Curing time

Once your resin is mixed and poured, you must wait for it to harden. The time this takes is known as the cure time.

paw print keychain charms

Phew, that’s a lot of information.  Let’s take a moment to review.

If you are using molds, making a river table, or filling a vessel with resin, you need to use a casting resin.

If you are giving a coating to a surface, like a countertop, art panel, or tumbler, or want to fill jewelry bezels with resin, you need to use a doming resin.

Once you’ve decided between those two options, then you can look at details like mixing amount, pot time, and cure time to choose the specific formula.

Here’s a list of our top-performing epoxy resins to get you started on your next project.

 

Casting resins:

BEST RESIN FOR RIVER TABLES AND BIG MOLDS: Resin Obsession Deep Pour Epoxy Resin

  • Mixing amount:  3 ounces to 3 gallons at once
  • Pot time: 30 to 90 minutes
  • Cure time:  72 hours
  • Pour up to two inches thick
  • Cures hard, durable and bubble-free
  • No VOC’s
  • UV protectants to guard against yellowing
  • Toxicologist certified SAFE resin formula

 

BEST RESIN FOR SMALL MOLDS: Resin Obsession Super Clear Resin

  • Mixing amount:  1/2 ounce to 3 ounces at one time
  • Pot time:  20 to 25 minutes
  • Cure time:  8 to 12 hours
  • It won’t soften with warmth or body heat
  • Easy, bubble-releasing formula
  • VOC Free
  • Top-notch UV protectants to keep the resin crystal-clear
  • Toxicologist certified SAFE resin formula

 

Doming resins:

BEST RESIN FOR GIVING A COLORED RESIN COATING: Resin Obsession Artwork Resin

  • Mixing amount:  3 ounces to 1 gallon at one time
  • Pot time:  20 to 35 minutes
  • Cure time:  1 day
  • Leave clear or tint with resin colors
  • no VOC’s
  • Self-levels
  • UV additives to protect against yellowing
  • Shiny finish
  • Toxicologist certified SAFE resin formula

 

BEST RESIN FOR GIVING A CLEAR, GLOSSY FINISH: Resin Obsession Crystal Doming Resin

  • Mixing amount:  1 ounce to 1 gallon
  • Pot time:  30 to 50 minutes
  • Cure time:  24 hours
  • Beautiful, magnifying effect
  • VOC Free
  • Coats evenly to avoid fish eyes
  • Top-level UV protectants to keep the resin clear and color-free
  • High gloss finish
  • Accepts colors readily
  • Toxicologist certified SAFE resin formula

 

mixing cups

Now that you’ve got your resin, you need resin colors, tools, and supplies for your project.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your truck is for hauling hay. If it doesn’t have gas and tires, you aren’t going to get the job done. That’s what resin colors and other supplies do for your resin. You can use resin colors to make your resin transparent, opaque, or something in between. The tools and supplies are essential to make sure you measure and mix your resin correctly.

What else do you need to know about using resin?

Before attempting your resin crafting project, make sure it’s something you can make with resin. Resin combines well with metal, glass, wood, stone, ceramics, fabrics, concrete, natural botanicals, and paper. There are, however, surfaces resin doesn’t stick to, so you want to make sure you aren’t trying to include one of them in your project.

Resin is not very forgiving of poor techniques. If you don’t measure accurately and stir thoroughly, you will end up with sticky resin spots, or it may not even cure at all.

Your resin and crafting area need to be warm enough for the resin to cure properly. That means your room temperature should be in the low 70’s F, plus your resin kit bottles should be warm. You can easily do this by placing them in a hot water bath for five to ten minutes before use.

Resin safety is critical. You shouldn’t be scared about using resin, but going back to the truck example, it’s why we wear seatbelts and have vehicle airbags. Having fun creating with resin means taking care of yourself. That means wearing safety gloves, having good room ventilation, and storing resin properly.

bowls

One more piece of my best advice before you use epoxy resin –

All resins are not the same! Every resin has different directions, applications, cure times, etc. It’s crucial you know all the details about your resin before using it so you can avoid a disaster.

Ready to try creating your best arts and crafts with epoxy resin but feel hesitant to get started?

I get it.  I made a bunch of mistakes when I started over fifteen years ago and I’ve made it my passion to make sure no one else goes through the frustration I did.  It’s why I wrote the book, Resin Fundamentals.  I’ve condensed my knowledge and experiences into an easy-to-read book for beginners.  Buy the book now and receive an email to download it in minutes!

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2021 Resin Obsession, LLC

7 thoughts on “How to Choose the Best Epoxy Resin for the Job

  1. Looking for doming jewelry resin, non-yellowing. It needs to come from the the EU (not England). From any place else it will set in Portugal customs, along with 50,000 other custom caught packages. Do you sell thru Amazon Germany? The German site is translated into English. Hope you can help.
    Audie

  2. I am having a hard time getting the resin to harden.. I warm them up use a scale to measure both and have let it sit over 24 hours.. I am trying to make gifts for the holidays and becoming very defeated.. I have watched all the videos you have.. any suggestions?

    1. Theresa – In my experience it is better to measure the resin and the hardener by volume, not by weight – unless the instructions specifically say to use weight.

      You can get a graduated cylinder or paint mixing cups with mL or other volume measurement.

      Example: If you need 300 mL of epoxy for your project total: a 1:1 ratio would use 150 mL Part A and 150 mL Part B; a 2:1 ratio would use 200 mL of the 2-part component & 100 mL of the 1-part component; or for 3:1 ration you would use 225 mL of the 3-part component & 75 mL of the 1-part component.

      Try this on your next pour and see how the epoxy turns out. Also, make sure your epoxy components and room temperature are around 72-75 degrees F.

  3. Thanks for the article. One thing I am not sure about. You say and I quote “Pour up to two inches thick” does that mean in one go 2″ thick or made up of thinner layers with cure time in between?

    The other thing that is not clear is what I can use as a base for the project to sit in. To make a starter round coffee tray I intend to use a section of plywood. Coat it with the release formula. Make a circle ring out of thick plastic. Release formula again. Seal the round plastic hoop with a hot glue gun. Then proceed with resin.

    Is anything wrong with the above? |Never used resin before. But looking forward to trying it.

    Is a hot air gun as good as a basic flame gun?

    1. Hi Frank, such great questions!

      You can pour the deep pour resin up to two inches thick at once, but you don’t have to. If your pour is going to be more than two inches, you’ll need to do multiple pours.

      I’m afraid, though, your mold idea isn’t ideal. Even with mold release, the wood won’t release cured resin.

      I prefer to use a heat gun over a flame gun because it’s less likely you’ll start a fire.

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