What is Resin? — Types, Benefits, and Uses

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Resin is a versatile material widely used in various industries for its unique properties and applications. It has different types, including thermoset and thermoplastic resins, as well as a curing process.

In this article, I’ll delve into resin’s composition, history, and uses, with a specific focus on its applications in art. I’ll also explore the benefits of resin in woodworking and provide a comparison between natural and synthetic types.

About Resin: Composition, History, and Uses

Resin is a remarkable substance with a long history of use across various industries. It can be derived from natural sources such as plants or manufactured synthetically.

The unique properties of the resin, including its adhesive, insulating, and protective qualities, have made it an invaluable material in numerous applications.

Throughout history, resin has played a significant role in woodworking, where it has been used as a durable and glossy finish for furniture and other wooden surfaces.

pouring epoxy resin

Its ability to create a protective layer against moisture, heat, and wear has made it a popular choice in varnishes and coatings. In ancient times, resin was even used in embalming to preserve mummies.

Types of Resin

Resin can be broadly categorized into two types: thermoset and thermoplastic resins. Each class possesses distinct characteristics and applications.

Thermoset Resins

Thermoset resins are cured using heat or chemical reactions, resulting in a permanent change in their chemical structure. Once cured, thermoset resins become infusible and insoluble.

They offer excellent mechanical properties, high heat resistance, and dimensional stability. Some common thermoset resins include epoxy, polyesters, polyurethane, and silicone resin.


Epoxy resin is widely known for its excellent bonding capabilities, durability, and resistance to chemicals and moisture. It is commonly used in coatings, adhesives, and laminates.

Thermoset Resins​

Epoxy resin’s versatility makes it popular in various applications, including art, where it creates glossy, glass-like finishes on artwork. But is epoxy resin food-safe? Find out next!


Polyester resin is known for its exceptional strength, low shrinkage, and resistance to water and corrosion. It finds extensive use in fiberglass reinforcement for boat building [1], automotive parts, and construction applications. 

Polyester resin is often used in sculpting and creating three-dimensional artwork.


Polyurethane resin is appreciated for its flexibility, impact resistance, and excellent electrical properties. It is commonly used to produce foams, sealants, and coatings.

In art, polyurethane resin can be employed to cast molds, create flexible sculptures, and produce high-quality resin jewelry.

Silicone Resin

Silicone resin exhibits outstanding heat resistance, electrical insulation properties, and weather ability. In the woodworking scene, silicone resin can be used for mold making, allowing artists to replicate intricate details in their artwork.

Thermoplastic Resins

Thermoplastic Resins​

Unlike thermoset resins, thermoplastic resins can be repeatedly heated and cooled without significant chemical changes.

They possess excellent processability, recyclability, and versatility. Common thermoplastic resins include polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene.

Curing Resin

Curing resin is a critical process in which the resin hardens and solidifies. Different methods of curing resin depend on the resin type and desired properties.

By Chemically-Induced

Chemically-induced curing involves adding a catalyst or hardener to the resin, which triggers a chemical reaction. This reaction causes the resin to crosslink and form a rigid structure. This method is commonly used with epoxy and polyester resins.

Chemical-Free Hardening

Certain resins, such as UV-curable resins, harden when exposed to specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light. This method offers rapid curing times and is often used in dental applications, coatings, and rapid prototyping.

What are Resin-Based Composites?

resins basic componets

Resin-based composites combine resin with other reinforcing materials such as fibers, particles, or fillers. This combination enhances the mechanical properties and performance of the resin, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.

Fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar are commonly used as reinforcing materials in resin-based composites.

Other Benefits of Resin

Apart from their mechanical properties and versatility, resin-based materials offer several advantages that make them highly desirable in various industries.

Free from maintenance

Resin-based products, such as coatings and laminates, require minimal maintenance. They resist corrosion, moisture, and weathering, ensuring their longevity and reducing the need for frequent repairs or replacements.

Can Withstand Harsh Elements

Resin exhibits excellent resistance to harsh elements, such as chemicals, UV radiation, and extreme temperatures. It makes it suitable for applications where durability and protection are essential.


mixing resins

Resin can be manufactured using sustainable and renewable sources, reducing the environmental impact. Additionally, resin-based products are recyclable, further contributing to their eco-friendliness.

Matches Any Color

If you look at the market, you’ll notice that resin is available in various colors. You may not know, but it can be easily pigmented or tinted to match specific aesthetic requirements. It makes it a popular choice in art, where artists can create vibrant and visually appealing artwork.

Natural vs. Synthetic Resin

While natural resins are derived from plants, synthetic resins are chemically produced. Natural resins, such as dammar and copal, have been used in varnishes and artistic mediums for centuries.

On the other hand, synthetic resins offer greater control over properties and can be tailored to specific applications. Natural and synthetic resins find their place in art, offering artists different options for their creative endeavors.

Top 5 Ways to Use Resin for Art

1. Creating Paintings with Resin Materials

Resin can create stunning, glossy finishes on paintings, enhancing their vibrancy and depth. Artists can experiment with different pouring techniques and color combinations to achieve unique effects.

2. Making Dried Flower Art with Resin Products

making dried flower with resin

Artists can create beautifully preserved floral arrangements and decorative pieces by encapsulating dried flowers and botanicals in resin. The transparent nature of resin allows the intricate details of the flowers to be showcased.

3. Mimicking Geodes Using Resin

Resin can mimic geodes’ appearance, creating captivating and intricate designs that resemble the natural beauty of crystals and minerals. Artists can incorporate pigments, glitter, and other materials to achieve dazzling effects.

4. Crafting Jewelry with Resin

Resin offers endless possibilities for creating unique and customizable jewelry pieces. Artists can incorporate various materials, such as dried flowers, pigments, or metallic flakes, into resin to produce eye-catching accessories.

Resin jewelry allows for endless creativity and personalization.

5. Home Décor Pieces

table with FGCI Deep Pour Epoxy Resin Kit Crystal Clear Liquid Glass

Resin can be used to make decorative items, such as coasters, trays, and wall art. Its versatility allows artists to experiment with different colors, textures, and patterns, resulting in unique pieces that add elegance to any space.


Resin is a remarkable material with diverse applications and benefits. Its ability to transform and preserve artwork and its durability and aesthetic appeal has made it a popular choice among artists and woodworkers alike.

Resin offers endless creative possibilities, whether used in paintings, jewelry, or home décor. By understanding the different types of resin, their curing processes, and the advantages they offer, you can unlock the true potential of this versatile material.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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