Casting Resin Vs Table Top Epoxy Resin
Clear casting resin and table top epoxy are both very popular for encasing and suspending memorabilia, coating bars and countertops, river tables, resin art, jewelry, tumblers and more. These two resins are quite similar in some ways, but they are very different to work with and are meant for different uses. It is important to know how to use these two products properly for different projects. If they are used incorrectly, you risk ruining the item you wanted to preserve forever! Let's take a quick look at the differences between the two, then we'll dive deeper.
Hopefully that helps, but lets go into a little more detail. But before we get started, let's clear up a question we often get...
Is Deep Pour Epoxy Resin the Same As Casting Resin?
Yes, casting resin is often referred to as "Deep Pour Resin" as it can be used for thicker pours (as the name implies). You want to avoid using a coating epoxy (i.e. table top epoxy) for deep pours, such as river tables or encapsulating objects, because it will take many applications to build up the thickness you will need, which will take a lot of time. Deep Pour Resins are slower to cure, therefore, allowing for a thicker "deep" pour.
So What's the Difference Between Casting Resin and Table Top Epoxy?
Many people use a casting resin, such as Pourable Plastic, when trying to encase a product or piece of memorabilia, such as coins, dried flowers, marbles, glitter and sequins, or insects. Photographs and other paper products can be embedded with casting resin too, but its important to first use a craft glue or sealant before applying the resin to ensure the paper product will not be distorted/ruined. As mentioned above, casting resin is also meant for projects requiring a thicker pour, such as the ever-so-popular river tables that are usually several inches thick.
-Our Top Pick For Casting Resins & Deep Pours-
Casting resins have a lower viscosity and allow you to pour up to several inches thick at a time, depending on the manufacturer. This is because it has a slower curing rate. This is important to note because casting resins can take several days to cure, which can be a problem for some. The downfall of a slow cure is not only will it take longer before you can put your project to use, but it also allows more time for dust particles and debris to get into the slow curing resin.
On the flip side, many people prefer a slow cure as it provides a longer working time. When you are working on an intricate project, such as jewelry, it can be stressful working with a coating epoxy with a gel time of 25 minutes (give or take).
Casting resins are usually a 2:1 mixture, and sometimes a 3:1 mixture. It is critical to read the instructions provided from the manufacturer you are using, as measuring accurately and mixing thoroughly is everything when it comes to resin. We prefer a 2:1 mixture as it is usually easier for most people to use, especially beginners.
Most people prefer a super clear resin so you can have a clear picture of the object that will be embedded. One thing to take note is that the product you are using is UV resistant. While all epoxies will yellow over time, some manufacturers are better than others at resisting UV light. Casting resin can also be also be tinted with pigments. Make sure to only use pigments that will work with the brand of resin you are using.
-Our Top Pick For Table Top Epoxy-
Table top epoxy resin can also be used for similar types of projects, but it is meant for thin pours, usually no more than 1/4 inch per application, but this varies by the brand. Its important to not pour any thicker than what is recommended, as you risk the epoxy heating up, smoking, cracking, yellowing, etc.
As you can probably imagine, using a table top epoxy would take several applications and several hours to embed objects that are several inches thick. Table top epoxies are preferred for pouring over flat surfaces such as table tops, bars, counters, resin art or other flat items as it is a self-leveling epoxy. Many people use coating epoxies to encase bottle caps or pennies in their bar.
Coating epoxies are usually a 1:1 mixture, making it super easy for beginners and professionals alike to use. It is usually a higher viscosity than a casting resin, and the cure time is a lot quicker. Most coating epoxies will start to gel within 25-30 minutes, depending on temperature. This means you have a lot less working time with it. But because it is meant to be used as a coating, most do not need a long working time. The cure time is usually around 12 hours, so the good news is that you can start using your table top, counters, etc. again soon after. Just keep in mind that even if your surface feels hard/cured after 12 hours, it may take up to 7 days for a full cure. Double check your instructions, as you would not want to start using your perfectly poured bar top, only to cause imperfections in the finished coat.
-Our Top Pick for a UV Resistant Formula-
If you are using a table top epoxy, choose it wisely. You want to make sure you grab a good epoxy that will not bubble up excessively or end up cloudy. Double check the epoxy you are using is a self-leveling epoxy as well in order to avoid having to level it yourself and risk ruining the project. Be sure to always pick a UV resistant epoxy as well. One of our favorite table top epoxies for UV resistance is UV Pro as it is significantly resists yellowing over many other brands on the market, its super easy to use, crystal clear, and great for beginners. If you are tinting your epoxy, however, UV resistance may not be as important.
Should I Use Epoxy or Resin For My Project?
So, as you can see there are many similarities between clear casting resin and table top epoxy. However, they are definitely better suited for different types of projects, so it may be a good idea to consider which product will be easier to use for whatever project you have in mind. Some resins, such as Incredible Solutions can be used for both coating and casting, assuming you pour no more than 1/4 inch per application. However, we feel its better suited for casting as it is a very thin pour.
Epoxy and resin can definitely be finicky or difficult to work with. Be sure to do your research and watch a few YouTube videos (such as the one above) before attempting a new project. If your creation will be made of something important or valuable to you, I would definitely try giving a similar, unimportant job an epoxy coating and perfecting your skills before trying it on a sentimental or expensive item.
Epoxy and resin can be a fantastic DIY project as long as they are given the time and attention necessary for your project to turn out shiny and beautiful!