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What is Polyresin?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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As a workable material for the creation of quite a few items, polyresin is both an affordable and durable solution to many household needs. Here is some background on this material, as well as some examples of how the material is used in the production of many different goods.

Polyresin one of the forms of resin materials that are especially flexible when heated. This quality makes it the ideal material to use in any instance where molds are used to great goods. Because it dries to a durable material that is virtually unbreakable, there are a number of manufacturers that choose to use this blend of polyester resin material to produce household goods, art objects and serving dishes.

One particularly popular form of polyresin is known as alabastrite. This is a blend that includes ground stone material in the mix. Alabastrite is an excellent quality choice for sculpting materials, as well as being much less expensive than most of the traditional blocks of natural stones. In fact, it is often used in the creation of decorate figurines, either by using molds or carving the figures from a block of polyresin by hand. This form is also great to use when it comes to creating ceramics, such as holiday ornaments and decorative candleholders.

Polyresin products usually have a sheen that is similar to fiberglass and has the same tolerance for the addition of color into the material. This allows it to be used in creating all sorts of products to fit into any décor. Along with a mixture of color schemes, polyresin also takes painting very well. This means that items can be receive a metallic finish, or metal flakes can actually be incorporated into the mix prior to molding the item.

Around the house, polyresin picture frames as well as clear or tinted protective toppers for tables offer both durability and a shot of color in the room. Vases, candle holders, and candy dishes can all be made from this material these days. Just about any decorating accent or container that once had to be constructed from tempered glass can now be produced with polyresin.

While some materials do not lend themselves well to detail work, polyresin allows the artist to include as much decorate work as necessary to produce an attractive item. From scrollwork on candle sticks to minute details on the faces of figurines, this is an excellent medium that will hold the shape and produce crystal clear results. As such, many people that have long worked with stone materials and even hard wood in their arts and crafts endeavors have switched to this material when capturing a vision in detail is necessary.

In addition to the number of polyresin products on the market, many hobby stores also supply blocks that can be used in carving and other craft projects. As a durable and affordable alternative medium for creating cherished pieces for the home, it is a great option.

Working With Polyresin

If you’re interested in creating polyresin products, you’ll need to have a few tools for your projects. Whether you’ll be using molds or hand-carving a block of polyresin, using high-quality tools can give you a much nicer finished product. You may need:

  • A modeling knife and clippers
  • A variable speed rotary tool, a piercing saw or razor saw (wearing a mask to prevent inhaling resin dust is a good idea)
  • Modeling clay and other mold-making materials or pre-made molds
  • Tweezers
  • Pin vice with drill bits
  • Sandpaper and files (mask usage is recommended)
  • Polyresin and a mixing container

Pre-made molds are available for some items, but you can also make your own mold using modeling clay. Readily available molds can be found for making figurines, jewelry components such as beads, and flat or 3-D geometric shapes.

Molds are usually made from plastic, silicone rubber or latex rubber. Air bubbles commonly form in poured resin, so you’ll need to make air holes or use indirect heat to remove the bubbles before the resin dries.

Common Types of Polyresin Used for Crafting

Most DIY crafters use either polyurethane epoxy resin or polyester resin. Either type can be used for pours that are less than ½-inch deep, but polyester resin won’t cure properly unless the pour is at least 1/2-inch deep. Most resins require at least 24 hours of drying time.

Liquid polyresins have two parts: the resin and a hardener. They are usually mixed at a 1:1 ratio immediately before you are ready to pour because they will begin to harden quickly after they are blended together.

Pouring the Resin

Resin is usually poured in layers. Inserting objects between layers of clear resin will make them look like they’re floating. Different colors can be used for each layer to create a colorful masterpiece.

Although color can be included in liquid resin prior to molding it, you can also add color to poured and dried objects with paint. Decorative pieces can be added to partially dried creations using tweezers. Once dried, these decorative items will look like they’re embedded.

After releasing your project from the mold, you will find excess resin at the mold’s seams and other imperfections. These can be carefully removed using clippers or a modeling knife and then lightly sanded.

When working with resin, you’ll need to verify three timeframes:

  • Pot time refers to the length of time you can work with blended resin before it starts to harden.
  • Demolding time is the minimum amount of time after pouring that you can safely remove your item from the mold.
  • Curing time is how long the resin object takes to completely cure and be ready for use.

Uses for Polyresin

Epoxy resin can be used to coat and seal countertops or other similar surfaces. You can either paint the countertop prior to pouring clear resin or mix color into the resin before it is poured. Using a heat gun will help remove air bubbles. Regular laminate countertops can be made to look like stone using this method, which is a lot cheaper than replacing existing countertops with marble, for example.

Outdoor decorative items are commonly made from polyresin. Garden statues, fountains, stepping stones and planters are examples. The resin’s light weight makes moving these sometimes large objects much easier, but they are heavy enough to withstand windy conditions.

Window shutters and lawn furniture can be made with polyresin. Because it is waterproof, polyresin is a durable yet easy-to-clean material. Left untreated, polyresin materials may fade with time in outdoor settings. However, most objects are treated with a fade-resistant finish.

The Origin of Polyresin

Although natural resins were used in ancient Egypt, the first synthetic resin was developed beginning in the 1870s and used chiefly to make inexpensive dinnerware. Epoxy resin was invented in 1942. By 1954, 20 million pounds of polyresin were used per year. Today, over 5 billion pounds are used commercially around the globe annually.

Polyresin and the Environment

Synthetic resins are made using chemicals. These resins can irritate skin and eyes during the casting process if it comes into contact, and the vapors released by the chemical reaction can be harmful when breathed in.

Polyester resins can pollute water and possibly cause cancer in humans. Epoxy resin, the most widely used synthetic resin, can produce cancer in animals, although newer formulas are reducing that risk. Most polyurethane resins are somewhat environmentally friendly, although they can pollute water. Molds are usually made from silicone resin, which is usually non-toxic.

Eco-resin, or bio-resin, is a newer variety made using renewable resources and plant extracts. These are environmentally friendly, but they are more expensive than synthetic resins.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including About Mechanics, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Crafter71 — On Nov 14, 2014

Where can someone purchase polyresin? I have been searching for quite some time and have come up empty.

By anon332863 — On May 01, 2013

Could this be used for making homemade ear gauges?

By anon313883 — On Jan 14, 2013

I have a sheep lawn statue that broke its leg. Is there a way to repair it that will keep the two pieces stuck together and sealed?

By anon284756 — On Aug 11, 2012

Acrylic (optically clear) is the best medium for encapsulating things. Polyurethane is the best for pouring on a wooden table to create a tough surface. It will scratch over time and will need polishing. It will also yellow, ergo making it a suitable coating for wood, since you can't really see the yellowing.

The best thing to protect a marble table is hard wax because marble is a porous material and the wax will stay put. Never put resin on marble.

There are many varieties of resin including epoxy, urethane and polyester. All have different properties and can be used in a wide variety of applications.

By twylahardin — On Apr 21, 2012

I found a poly resin coated cookie cutter and want to use it in a craft project. The product info doesn't address the subject and the seller isn't sure. Could this item be used in an oven at 350 degrees for 5 - 10 minutes?

By anon172043 — On May 02, 2011

you could dilute the chemical and put in a spray bottle. then put the flowers upside down and spray them lightly. after drying with a lesser diluted solution, spray them again - light coat. oh, during the first spray, you want to arrange any petals in the manner that you want. Make sure they're dry before you move them anywhere.

By anon148160 — On Jan 31, 2011

has anyone ever used Aqua Risen? I want it to look like bronze. Help!

By anon102366 — On Aug 07, 2010

Polyresin is highly durable. I make many creations out of it and have dropped them numerous times, and they have yet to break. But they do become a bit fragile when there's no inside support (like wires or meshing) to make it more resistant to being dropped and the like, especially if it's completely sculpted out by hand and is not a mold re-creation. (Mold re-creations generally stand up to breaking in general unlike its sculpted counterpart, which does require the extra wire/mesh support just to be on the safe side.)

As for the figures, they could have broken for a number of reasons. One, the figures were being man handled either by you or the people you bought it from (I'm not sure if they arrived broken or not).

Two, you received a bad batch of figures for your chess set. If dust, water, or debris of some kind got on the polyresin while the container was open, and had yet to be used, this will cripple the polyresin indefinitely so when the polyresin is finally used the finished piece will be highly breakable. This happened to me once and it broke rather easily on carpet flooring.

Polyresin is generally waterproof after it has dried indefinitely. If you wish to make it more waterproof especially after it was painted on, you can spray a sealant over your polyresin sculpture allowing it to keep its colors rain or shine and it gives the sculpture a nice glossy feel.

By anon80212 — On Apr 26, 2010

i just received a skull cup i bought and from the state of california says that it has been known to cause cancer, birth defects, etc. on the warning slip. is that true about polyresin?

By anon57626 — On Dec 25, 2009

I also want to clarify if the polyresin statues are waterproof. Can anyone give me an answer?

By anon56377 — On Dec 14, 2009

I was under the impression that polyresin was durable. Unfortunately it seems to be somewhat fragile, as I ordered a chess set and two pieces had their hands broken off.

By anon54786 — On Dec 02, 2009

is polyresin waterproof?

By anon35484 — On Jul 05, 2009

Is this a good idea for pet memorials?

By matlock46 — On Dec 19, 2008

Does anyone know if the polyresin can be used for a marble table top to protect from scratching, etc?

By hotrod — On Nov 30, 2008

I want know more how to produce parts of polyresin

With type casting tools made of what and maskin type?

By marchb — On Nov 09, 2008

Does anyone know how to use Polyresin to create and preserve real natural flowers? I would like to learn the process of this so if you have any information on this, please post your response.

Thanks, March

By anon8642 — On Feb 18, 2008

what is the chemical composition of a polyresin?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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