Mixing epoxy resin is one way to ensure you get high-quality pieces. Even so, some items may still need finishing to some extent. For instance, the resin may not have an expected crystal-clear surface. Luckily, polishing epoxy resin will give them a beautiful resin piece with a shiny surface.
The same thing applies to resin-coating surfaces and craft pieces. But do you even know how the epoxy resin polishing process works? Well, if you don’t, this step-to-step tutorial will help learn how to polish resin!
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to give your resin art items a perfectly smooth and beautiful finish. So, let’s get started!
5 Simple Steps to Master How to Polish Resin
Step 1: Gather Essential Equipment
- Sandpaper (grit 180 – 1200 or, up)
- Sanding block
- Polishing compound
- Water in a bucket
You’ll also need buffing products such as – polishing pads, wax, microfiber cloth, and buffing wheels if you have grinders for heavy scratch removal from the epoxy surface.
Step 2: Clean the Epoxy Pieces
Once the epoxy resin has cured, it might be covered with the remains of your support material used to create your resin piece. You need to remove the waste materials by pealing or cutting it away before the sanding process begins. To do that, scrape off all bulky material and wash your epoxy resin project in soapy water.
This process is important because it will remove all of the dust and debris from the surface before you go to the next process. The major reason for this is that dust and debris will foul up the sanding and polishing process and could leave large gouges on the surface of your epoxy resin project.
Step 3: Sand Your Epoxy Pieces
After cleaning, check for flaws like scratches, bumps, and uneven coats. To fix these defects, depending on the extent of the defects you will need to sand your project.
There are 2 methods used for the sanding process dry sanding and wet sanding.
Dry sanding is more aggressive and used coarse sandpaper to remove a lot of material, however dry sanding creates large amounts of resin dust that is bead to breathe in and will also clog up the sandpaper faster because the dust doesn’t get washed out.
Wet sanding uses special wet sanding sandpaper that is designed to be used wet. the water helps reduce the dust and the sandpaper will get cleaned each time you reapply water. wet sanding is slower and will remove less material but uses a finer grit paper that will leave a better finish.
The sanding process gives you a clean and smooth surface to work with when buffing or polishing epoxy. when sanding, always use a flat sanding pad or you will not get a flat surface on your finished piece.
Sanding epoxy resin involves the use of different grits of sandpapers. You might start with the 180 or, 400-grit sandpaper and work your way up. To achieve the best results, sand the surface in circular movements. You can either do this process using an orbital sander or by hand with a sanding block.
That being said, let’s get into the actual epoxy sanding process!
Put some water in a container or sprayer. Now, soak or spray water on the sandpaper to wet the abrasives. Also, spray some water on the epoxy surface. Sand it about 2 to 3 times and you might want to increase the grit number to achieve a better finish level.
Use a clean cloth to wipe off the milky dust between sanding operations.
Repeat this process using 180, 400, 600, 800, and 1200-grit to remove the existing scratches. Make sure you sand the entire surface comprehensively before you move up a grade. By the end of this process, let the surface dry.
A good tip is before you start sanding apply some black dye on your piece and sand until the dye has been removed. when the dye is gone you will have sanded enough and it’s time to move to the next grit sandpaper.
Step 4: Apply the Polishing Compound
A polishing compound fills in the scratches on the surface. It ensures that your items get the glass-like finish they deserve. Once the sanding process is complete, apply a small amount of fine polishing compound to the surface. Make sure to uniformly spread it across the entire resin surface.
There are many different types of polishing compounds on the market, so make sure you chose one that is designed to polish resin (Plastics) and not a polishing compound for polishing metal.
Step 5: Resin Polishing
To give your pieces a final buff, use a polishing pad attached to a buffing wheel or drill. Now, wax it and polish it. Doing so will leave you with a smooth polished surface.
You can either polish it by machine or by hand. Nonetheless, the most ideal method will depend on the size of your resin surface/pieces.
Method 1: Polishing Resin By Hand
In this case, you’ll need sandpaper, compound, water, and a cloth. After putting some compound onto the cloth, moisten it with water. Then put the cloth over your sanding block. Now, use the cloth to rub over your epoxy items in slow, circular motions with little pressure.
Continue with this process until you achieve the desired finish.
Method 2: Using A polishing Machine
If you’re working on a large surface area, we recommend that you use a polisher machine with a buffing wheel and polishing sponge. This option will quickly give your surface a high gloss. Here, you’ll need a polishing attachment and an orbital sander. Because of its eccentric motion, an orbital sander offers excellent results.
Better still, it does not strip too much epoxy.
When using this approach, apply some compound to your sander’s polishing pad. Turn on the machine and move it over the items in circular motions. Continue with this process you get the desired finish.
Method 3: Using A Drill
- Screw the attachment onto the drill.
- Apply some compound to the polishing attachment.
- Then carefully polish your resin surface in uniform movements. Don’t apply a lot of pressure at the edges.
- After polishing the surface for the first time, do another pass. However, for the second pass, use a uniform finer flannel attachment.
- Continue with this process until you get the desired level of shine.
Regardless of the method you use, your resin will get a perfectly shiny finish. However, you have to follow the preparation process very carefully. If you don’t, the surface may end up with permanent unsightly grinding marks. So, make sure you do follow the recommended steps before you get to the actual polishing process!
1. Do you have to sand between coats of epoxy resin?
On curing, epoxy resin is non-porous. Therefore, the second epoxy layer will not bond with the first layer. For this reason, it’s good to sand it between layers. This helps it bond well with the previous layers and extends its durability.
2. Can you buff resin?
Yes. It’s possible to buff any cured resin object or surface. To do this, you’ll need a polishing tool or buffing wheel and polishing paste. Attach the buffing tool to an electric drill. Then move the rotating wheel along the surface to polish it.
3. Can epoxy be sanded?
Due to its hardness, cured epoxy resin is not easy to sand. This, however, doesn’t mean that it cannot be sanded. The best method for sanding resin is wet sanding. It reduces dust, and sandpaper clogging and eliminates amine blush.