What are the different types of resin?

What are the different types of resinWhen it comes to resin, there are so many options!  You might be wondering which resin is right for my project?  In order to answer that question, you need to know what are the different types of resin.

Here are the possibilities you might run into along 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 additives 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

Like this post? You may be interested in  Plastic vs. Silicone Resin Casting Molds: What’s the Difference?

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

So now that you understand the different types of resin, here’s my breakdown of how I use it:

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 need something cured quickly, I use a quick-curing polyurethane resin. Silicone resin is strictly for mold making.  (You can see our silicone molds for resin in the resin molds category.)

If you want more details on choosing a resin, these resources will help:

Learn about the different resins we sell and which one is best for your project in our resin buying guide.

Which resin is best for creating epoxy art.

What is the best resin for jewelry?

Advice for making resin river tables

If you want to learn more about this types of resin, along with the basics of using resin for any medium, then you will love our latest book, Resin Fundamentals

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2020 Resin Obsession, LLC

110 thoughts on “What are the different types of resin?

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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…

  8. 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

  9. @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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  13. 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!

  14. 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?

  15. @Courtney,

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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?

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

  23. @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.

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

    1. Hi Jan, I’m curious as to why resin? In terms of durability, something like concrete may be preferable.

    1. Sadly, I don’t. I get asked that a lot and haven’t found a good alternative for our international readers.

  27. I have a friend trying to make beads with breast milk and resin. She made some beads and they quickly rotted or turned a nicotine color either because of the milk rotting or air exposure, any advice?

  28. Hi Katherine, thank you for such a great site- I would like to make medium to large sized vases and small plant pots, what is the best resin to use?

  29. I purchased a box of “Amazing Clear Cast” to make some sea glass out of and I’m kinda in a rush to get it done, so my question is can i use food coloring for the color in this stuff? I’m hoping that i can use something that I have around the house for coloring. That or can i use candle or soap dye? TIA. Plus this is my first time using this product.

  30. Hello, I just bought my first Bo staff from my dojo. All the Bo staffs look the same, except for the size, so we just all customize it. I was thinking about using glow-in-the dark resin and pour it into the shallow carvings for a cool look.

    Keeping in mind this will be used for sparring, is there a resin type strong enough to withstand daily sparring sessions? Or should I look for another way to customize my Bo staff?

    Also, if so, what kind of resin is acceptable to use?


  31. Hi there,
    Im looking to use resin to coat artificial flower petals, could you please recommend a Resin? I do need them to be 3d and moulded into a shape, I’m not sure if there is a resin that would be suitable for this?

  32. Which resin can I use as a substitute for nitrocellulose resin in shoe sole glue? I can’t get nitrocellulose resin in the market

    1. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with nitrocellulose resin and cannot make a recommendation for you.

  33. Hi!
    I am trying to make concrete jewelry as hoby. But I the thin details becomes very fragile. I try to mix the concrete with epoxy resin and it worked. Exept they dont look like att all like a concrete anymore. Do you have any suggestions how can I achieve to create objects by mixing resin and cement/concrete without losing the concrete effect? Is epoxy resin is the right kind?
    Than you in advance

    1. I haven’t done a project like this, so I can’t say whether or not mixing concrete and resin works well. Have you considered making the jewelry in concrete, then coating them with resin?

  34. hii..sir
    my project was natural composites (Jute fiber) , but i did’t find out the matrix for my project. which resin good for jute fiber

  35. I would like to make a beach scene on and Old window in a frame. I will be using shells and other materials I have found on the beach. What type of product would be used to pour once the items are glued on the window?

  36. Epoxy safety warning: althought polyester has a really bad smell, your loungs can handle it and body disolves it in a short time. Story with the epoxy is very different – it has no smell, but its fumes evaporate and chain with water in the air. With breathing it comes in to our lunges and because its cemical formula our body can not dissolve it. It stays in our loungs for a long time.

  37. Hi Katherine,

    Have you try UV resin for jewelry resin? There is one brand Padico from Japan that I am curious about, and so many brand from China. Does UV resin same with Epoxy resin? It says that UV resin will hard cure in 60 minutes by direct sunlight, while in 15 minutes by UV lamp.

  38. Hi I am a beginner and I want to make counter tops using Mable powder,which resin would do the trick and should I use a paint dye in the mixing?
    Please advise
    Thanks Gregory

  39. Hi. your group is wonderful, but I can’t seem to find a thread that can help me with a project I want to try. I’ve never worked with resin before. I saw the video Bobby Dukes did of his ostrich egg. (he filled it with resin and then carved the egg and then lite it from underneath. Very Cool) But he doesn’t explain what type of resin he used, and he used way too much. It kept expanding and overflowing out of the emptying hole and eventually out of the pores of the egg and it cracked. it also reached 250F! Is there a way to figure out how much and what type of resin would be best to use? I also live in an apartment, so I’d have to do this outside on my patio.

    1. Hi Charlynn, it sounds like you have a lot you want to get done! I want to help you with your project, and I think this situation is best suited for a one-on-one consulting call where you and I talk back and forth about what’s going on. I can set you up for a 15 or 30 minute consultation call. Prices start at $20. If you want to send an email through our contact page, I am happy to respond with more details and availability.

  40. Very impressed by your information on resins. Joan my wife died on Thanksgiving day. I want to wear an earring with her ash cremains I saw a colorful crystal resin earring with infused cremains that hold 1/4th a teaspoon of ash cremains.The seller says to minimize exposure to chemicals, pools, saltwater and strong sunlight. Earrings are 9/16″ by 1 1/16″ (15x28mm) with 3/4″ (20mm) hypoallergenic stainless steel hooks. Will this type earring last in time, I am outside in sunshine daily and swim in sea water in summer time. Below is web page of the seller.
    https://www.spiritpieces.com/collections/earrings-infused-ash The earring I am looking at, is the Red Baby’s Breath earring with cremains, Thank you. Liam O’Brien

  41. Hi, so I’m making a ball jointed doll, and was wondering what resin I would use to do the final cast over clay. One website suggested urethane, is that the best option? And how would I achieve a very tan skin color? I don’t want to have to paint it…

  42. Does all resins heat up when mixed? I have been trying different flowers in molds, paperweights, keychains, earrings, etc.. seems that the heat discolors them almost as soon as it touches. I have tried sealing with many different items, nothing seems to be working. I want to seal a few flowers from grandmas funeral and running out of time…even considered the acrylic water and just sealing them in the bottom of a clear vase….HELP!

  43. Hello everyone . I’m trying to wrap my head around hope to forward with a project and if resin is even the answer. So it started with paper, I made a wintercroft dragon mask mask then modpodged the hell out of it and kept adding tissue paper and even some paper mache paste. I’ve stiffened it up enough to add lights inside and use it to paint with light as seen here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BwZC5BDAVH4/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=14d8ulsmsseua
    So I wanted to make the mask more resilient and I sprayed white red idiot on it…so now it’s not translucent! So I need a clear to clearish mask. How do I get there? Make a tinfoil mold in two halves? I was working on another mask out of pvc, simply use the inside of that as a mold? Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hi John,

      You have a lot going on here!

      I want to help you with your project, and I think this situation is best suited for a one-on-one consulting call where you and I talk back and forth about what’s going on. I can set you up for a 15 or 30 minute consultation call. If you want to send an email through our contact page, I am happy to respond with prices and availability.

  44. Hey im new to resins and want to make dice and not simple ones. I want to make 6,4,10,12, and 20 sided for dnd and tabletop games in general. Appart from trying to figure out how or where im gonna get molds for these geometric shapes with 10-20 equal sides, they need to be prett hard since they’ll probably fall off the table onto hard floors occasionally. I intend to put things inside them as well like tiny skulls, clovers, etc. so it would need to have a near glass level clarity and tintable if possible, not a solid color but like lightly colored glass with the object inside still clearly visable and stay that clear for hopefully a few years at least. Is it possible to have 2 different colors in a mold without them completely mixing and just kinda swirling or transition. Also need to be able to get the numbers on the sides by painting, etching, or some other way. I realize this will be a very hard and expensive project if even possible due to the shapes and designs i desire. It seems i would need a high-end polyurethane with special color additives but im not sure.
    Any advice on this? Does this even sound possible to do?
    I obviously dont plan on jumping straight into this and intend to get very comfortable with epoxy before i even think about it.

  45. I’m just getting into resin, I’d like to make a custom shift knob for my manual car. I dont want it turning yellow so I have a cover to protect the resin from sun. Any other suggestions or tips for making this?

    1. Unfortunately, all resins are going to yellow over time. Resins with UV inhibitors and stabilizers help extend the time before yellowing occurs. However, things such as mixing off ratio (even though it still can cure without tackiness), putting over an improperly cured lacquer, excessive heat, and or constant exposure to sunlight can speed up the yellowing process. How long the epoxy will last in its clear state is very difficult to predict.

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