How to Polish Epoxy Resin
Whether you’ve just finished sanding your epoxy or you’re just looking for a deeper shine, read through these tips and tricks to learn how to best polish your epoxy resin projects. Check out our sanding tips prior to polishing so that you’re ready to take on the polishing process!
Getting Prepared to Polish
So you’ve poured your epoxy and you’ve waited the full cure time—what do you do next? Polishing and buffing? Maybe. Once you’ve checked over your project and you’ve demolded the casting, you may notice some imperfections that you want to take care of. It’s going to be important to clear these away before you start polishing, or else you won’t get the desired result! To be safe, here are the tools you will need in order to get started with the final step to your project and help the process go a lot smoother:
- Sandpaper ranging from 120 to 1000 grit
- Sanding block
- Scratch remover compound
- Buffing wheel
- Buffing products
- Wax products
As you can see, a lot goes into giving your project a glass-like finish. The key to this is to be patient and take it step by step--it’s worth it in the end!
After you coat or cast and demold your epoxy, you might realize your project has a flaw—a scratch, a hair, a bump, or an uneven coat are all common mishaps that can occur. To fix these flaws, sanding is highly recommended. If you haven’t already, make sure to remove any of these imperfections before moving on to the buffing process.
You want to make sure that you have a smooth, clean surface to work with when polishing. You can do this by working your way through various grits of sandpaper: the lower the grit, the deeper the scratches on the surface. So, if you’re trying to remove a bug, or level out the surface then you are going to want to start with a lower grit and slowly work your way up, until the surface is smooth. If your surface is relatively ready and free of imperfections than you are more likely going to start with a higher grit sandpaper since the surface needs less work. Again, check out our sanding tips prior to polishing so that you’re ready to take on the polishing process!
Why Is My Epoxy Cloudy After Sanding?
After you sand, you might notice that your surface is level but cloudy. It’s not that shiny topcoat you previously poured. That’s normal! Sanding leaves small scratches that refract and diffuse light, getting rid of any shine that was previously there. Your surface will be smooth to the touch, but it won’t seem smooth to the eye.
Unfortunately, due to its softness, epoxy can get scratched by sanding, knives, sharp items, etc. Luckily for you, repairs are easy and totally doable! You can recoat your surface with a clear coat of epoxy, or you can buff and polish! For purposes of this article, we’re going to cover buffing and polishing but if you would like to learn about the alternate option, you can read about best practices for applying a second coat of epoxy.
Wet Sanding Vs Buffing
When you’re prepping to polish, you’ve got to sand down your surface. You can choose either wet sanding or buffing to achieve this. With wet sanding, you’re carefully sanding from coarse grit to grit, going from 120 to 1000 in circular movements, either by hand or with an orbital sander. When getting up to the highest grit, you may find your epoxy is polished enough to your likening.
Buffing on the other hand, acts as more of a filler than a remover like sanding. While buffing you are using a compound to essentially fill in the scratches previously made on the surface of your project. You work in the compound with a variable speed polisher, slowly working the material into the surface. You can do one, you can do the other, or you can do both—either way, skipping this step isn’t going to give you the glass-like finish your project deserves.
Manual Vs Machine
Not sure whether to use a Dremel or go old school and buff it by hand? Well the answer is pretty simple—it depends!
When working on smaller, more intricate projects like rings or jewelry, it may be easier to use a stationary disc sander and a buffing wheel than to sand and buff by hand. Using this type of machine allows for better precision when handling smaller details and gives you more control. Similar to this method is using a Dremel – perfect for small objects and for controlling where and what you’re buffing.
Hand polishing also works when you want to focus on specific areas. Maybe you used a buffing machine for a large project, but really want the edges to shine. Grab a polishing compound and make it as polished as you like it!
Using a buffing machine is ideal for large projects. Using a Dremel, as we mentioned earlier, works well for intricacies and smaller projects that can then be finished up by hand. Using a Dremel on an entire table would take an extremely long time and may still require touching up afterwards.
Best Resin Polishing Compound
When you’ve finished buffing, your epoxy project might be finished to your liking. But, if you’d like an even and pristine shine, using a polishing compound will be the right choice for you. As a general rule of thumb, most polishing compounds that work for wood will also work for resin.
Stone Coat Countertops’ Liquid Smooth polishing compound will really take your shine to the next level. It’s one of the best polishing compound specifically for epoxy available. Using a buffing attachment, applying Liquid Smooth or any other polishing compound has never been easier. Simply apply the compound to the buffing pad and the epoxy, and buff away!
Working in small sections when using a polishing compound will ensure an even shine throughout your project. Don’t settle for dull epoxy projects – start buffing and you’ll see the shine!