What is Polymer Resin?

Jillian Peterson

Polymer resin is a clear liquid plastic product that hardens to create a thick, durable, glossy coating. Once hardened, it is fade-proof and water-resistant. This type of resin is commonly used on furniture to seal finishes and create a durable, glass-like surface, and it's also used in many other arts and crafts when the artist wants a thick, glossy coating.

Polymer resins are often used to give furniture protective, glossy coatings.
Polymer resins are often used to give furniture protective, glossy coatings.

A liquid plastic resin and a liquid catalyst are the two parts of a polymer resin. The liquid resin is activated by the catalyst, which begins the hardening process. The user mixes the two parts, usually in equal measure, for a certain period of time until they are thoroughly combined. It is normal for the resin to heat up during the mixing process because of the chemical reaction between the resin and the catalyst. Once mixed, the liquid can be poured over the surface that the user wishes to coat. In liquid form, the resin is self-leveling, which means that it flows and forms a level surface as it hardens.

For large resin-covered surfaces, a blowtorch can be ran over the top so that the bubbles will rise and pop.
For large resin-covered surfaces, a blowtorch can be ran over the top so that the bubbles will rise and pop.

Once the resin is poured, it begins to harden or cure. Curing is the term for the chemical reaction within the resin that allows it to go from a liquid to a solid form. While it's curing, bubbles may form, but they can be removed with heat. For small projects, a hot breath can bring the bubbles to the surface where they will naturally pop. For larger surface areas, running a blowtorch lightly over the top of the resin will heat it enough to allow bubbles to rise.

Depending on the brand, polymer resin can take anywhere from 48 hours to 72 hours to fully cure. While curing, it is a good idea for users to cover their projects so that dust does not fall into the liquid and become trapped, marring the glossy finish. Small projects should not be handled during curing because fingerprints will stay in the resin while it is still soft.

Once the resin has cured completely, it can be cleaned normally using water and some mild soap on a damp cloth. Harsh chemicals or abrasives should not be used to clean the resin after it has hardened because they could damage the surface. Minor scratches on the surface can be rubbed away; the heat of friction causes the scratched resin to melt slightly and flow back into an unbroken surface.

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Discussion Comments


Will this work for my project? I am working on a mosaic design on a tabletop (with edges) wherein my tesserae is of different thicknesses. I was told that thinset building mortar would allow me to build up the thinner pieces to create an even surface. However, even though I haven't done the gluing with the mortar yet, I am still concerned. What I want is to create this mosaic and cover it with a coat or several coats if needed, with some kind of polyurethane or resin or anything that will give the final finish a completely even and smooth surface. Will this product work for that? Another note is that none of the tesserae are thick enough to rise above the table edging, which is good. It leaves room for layers of clear smooth coating. Any info on this or suggestions?


to the writer: Could Polymer Resin be put into a balloon and the balloon put in a hot place if you wanted a clear sphere of the plastic? (for an art project).


@aviva - My husband and I had the idea of buying a ship hatch cover and making a coffee table from it. We spent hours cleaning and sanding it.

We were going to coat it with polymer resin. We thought it was going to look real nice. And, with the clear coating, we could enjoy the table and the kids couldn't damage it.

Unfortunately. we never finished it. It would have been a nice surface. Oh well, it's still sitting out in our garage. Maybe, some day!


Huh, this is really random, but my uncle is a janitor, and he was actually telling me about this stuff the other day. Apparently gymnasium floors are made of natural hickory wood. Since they undergo an extreme amount of abuse and traffic they are treated with a thick layer of polyurethane polymer resin coating for protection.

Cool to see such a practical use for it, right?

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