Epoxy resin cures with a shiny or glossy finish, especially on surfaces that are exposed to air during curing, but there are a few ways to get a matte or satin finish on the resin.
Use a resin mold that produces a matte or satin finish. When molds are made, the cavities will take on the surface of whatever was used to make the mold. If the mold was made from something with a frosty, rough, or coarse surface, that will impart onto the mold. All castings made from that mold will have a matte or satin finish.
How do you know if your mold is going to leave a frosted finish on your resin charms and projects?
Look at the surface of the mold. If it looks dull or frosted, then that same finish will transfer to your resin. This video shows you exactly what to look for:
Sand the resin once it’s cured. Resin cures hard enough that it can be, at a minimum, sanded by hand with wet/dry sandpaper. Some resins, such as some casting epoxy resins, and many polyesters and polyurethanes do well with sanding by power tools. When in doubt though, sanding by hand is always the best option. While it takes longer, you are less likely to take off too much or take it off unevenly.
Here’s how you sand resin to get a matte or satin finish:
1. Start with a coarse grit wet/dry sandpaper. Either move the item over the sandpaper, as in the case of a resin charm, or if a large painting, wrap sandpaper around a block and go over the surface.
Note: Wet the sandpaper. This serves two purposes: the water will wet the dust, so you don’t inhale it and it cools the heat from friction, so your piece doesn’t melt.
Safety tip: Wear a particle mask when sanding resin. You do not want to inhale resin dust.
2. Once the surface is completely sanded and even, choose the next finer grit of sandpaper and repeat. You must make sure your resin is evenly sanded with one grit before moving on to the next grit. If there are marks, divots, or other blemishes you see that you can’t get rid of with the grit you are currently using, you need to go back a step and sand again with a coarser grit paper before moving on.
3. Continue sanding with finer grit sandpapers until the surface is as matte or frosty as you like.
Here’s how I like to sand resin jewelry and resin paintings:
So why can’t you use power tools to go over the surface of your resin jewelry, crafts or art?
Well, you might be able to. The problem is that if you used an epoxy resin that cures soft, the friction from sanding may cause your piece to ‘crumb’ and not sand off evenly. It can also warp or melt. If you decide to use power tools, keep the resin wet if possible, to reduce the heat and friction. Pay careful attention as resin sands off quickly when using power tools.
How do I use power tools when sanding resin?
I will use them on hard-curing resins when I’m sanding a flat surface like the backs or straight sides of resin charms. For the times I’m sanding a curved or uneven surface, I will sand by hand. I find it’s very tedious to keep power tools from changing the shape of your resin casting.
If you want to try, here are some techniques to help:
When do I sand resin artwork?
When the divot or blemish I’m trying to correct us more than 1/8 inch deep, I will sand resin. Doming resins for artwork self-level to 1/8 inch deep, so you don’t want anything any deeper than that. Otherwise, you will end up with divots in the next layer too.
Note: Please take appropriate safety precautions when sanding resin, which includes wearing a dust mask. Here’s more information on resin safety.
What about using additives to get a matte or satin finish on resin?
While I’m sure there are some out there, I’m a big believer in the mantra, ‘the simplest way is usually best’. While I hate sanding, I don’t want to take a chance using a product that may not produce the exact finish I want. At least with wet/dry sandpaper, I can sand the resin to the exact finish I want.
Need more details on sanding resin? This article will help: How to sand resin
Do you like to have a matte or satin finish on resin projects?
Want to learn more of the basics you need to know to be successful with resin? Be sure to buy your copy of Resin Fundamentals. You will go from confused to confident with resin in an afternoon!
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