I’m guessing you’re here because you’re overwhelmed by all the resin types out there.
You’re not alone. I get messages like this all the time.
- You’re ready to take on a project.
- Then buy resin for that project.
- But overwhelmed because you don’t want to use the wrong one and mess up that project.
Here’s the thing — knowing what resin is best for your project starts with knowing the types of resins you’ll find.
Once you know about the types of resin, it gets a lot easier to choose the right resin type for what you want to make.
Two-part resins come as a base resin and a hardener (or catalyst). They don’t do anything by themselves, but when mixed together, a chemical reaction occurs. This is what lets them cure.
With all types of resin, there are two terms you need to be familiar with:
Pot time: the amount of time you have to use the resin once you start mixing. Once the resin hits the end of this time, it starts to solidify.
Cure time: the amount of time it takes the resin to form into a solid. Once your resin reaches the end of the cure time is when you can touch it to demold.
⭐️ BONUS: There are more resin terms than this. If you ever read something you don’t know what it means, go check out our resin dictionary.
With me so far?
Here are four types of resin you’ll find:
You may also see this called fiberglass resin.
Pot time: 8 to 15 minutes minutes
Cure time: 18 to 24 hours
What you should know: It stinks.
Pros: Polyester resin cures with a tough finish that you can sand or buff with a polishing wheel. If the surface becomes scratched, you can easily polish it again.
Cons: Because it does cure very hard, polyester resin will break if dropped on a hard surface. You shouldn’t use it to coat a surface because it won’t self-level.
⭐️ BONUS: Here are five other things you need to know about using polyester casting resin.
This is my favorite resin to use.
Pot time: Varies. It may be as short as 20 minutes but can be as long as 90 minutes for slow-curing epoxy.
Cure time: It also varies but is related to the pot time. i.e., Epoxy resins with a shorter pot time have a shorter cure time.
What you should know: It’s the easiest resin for beginners to get started with.
Pros: The most available resin type.
Cons: Some epoxy resins cure soft.
⭐️ BONUS: Since epoxy resins are so popular, there are a bunch of formulas for this resin type as well. (and it can be just as overwhelming as learning about the types of resin) If you want to use epoxy resin, there’s more you need to know about this type of resin. I’ve broken down the types of epoxy so you use the right one.
I like using this resin when I need a completed project quickly.
Pot time: 2 to 15 minutes
Cure time: 15 minutes to an hour
What you should know: This is not a resin for beginners since it cures quickly.
Pros: They come with a speedy cure time. Usually in under an hour.
Cons: They’re very moisture sensitive and may not cure well in humid climates. Some won’t work if they aren’t colors designed for polyurethane resins.
⭐️ BONUS: Learn cuff bracelet making with polyurethane resin.
Yes, silicone is a resin!
Pot time: minutes
Cure time: hours
What you should know: This is what you want to use to make molds for casting the other resin types.
Pro: The perfect material for making molds for casting the other three resins above.
Cons: The rubbery finish means most people don’t like wearing it as jewelry.
⭐️ BONUS: Here’s how to use silicone putty to make resin molds at home.
How do you know what type of resin you’re looking at?
It should say somewhere on the label or the product description. You can’t assume what type you have by looking at container type or size.
⭐️ BONUS: Three reasons you DON’T want the cheapest epoxy resin.
What if you want to color these types of resin?
You can definitely do that. You’ll get the best coloring results if you use colors designed for the resin type.
⭐️ BONUS: Epoxy resin coloring secrets.
How do I get a shiny finish with these resin types?
It depends on how you’re going to use the resin. Polyester, epoxy, and polyurethane resins naturally want to cure shiny. But, if you’re using them in a mold, you need to ensure that the mold has a shiny surface.
⭐️ BONUS: Here’s how to polish resin.
The same thing happens with your silicone resin. If you’re using it to make a mold, your mold template needs to have a shiny surface too.
What if I want a frosted surface on the resin?
You can achieve that with polyester, epoxy, and polyurethane resins.
⭐️ BONUS: How to get a matte surface on resin.
What safety precautions do I need to take when using these resin types?
At the least, you need to wear protective gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. The specific type of resin you use will have more safety precautions listed in its safety data sheet.
💡 Pro tip: If you can’t get a safety data sheet for your resin, don’t use it. Your health and safety aren’t worth the risk.
⭐️ BONUS: Learn about the types of resin we sell and which is best for your project in our resin buying guide.
Overwhelmed with choosing the right resin for your project?
I get it, because I felt the same way when I started with resin over 15 years ago. I wasted so much time and money on using the wrong products, and I don’t want you to go through the same aggravation.
It’s why I wrote the book Resin Fundamentals. For less than the cost of a resin kit, you can buy the book and feel ready to take on your first (or next) resin project. Buy the ebook now and get a download link to your email in minutes.
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