Applying epoxy resin is easy enough, but giving it a nice smooth finish? Now that's another task. Use our guide to get your epoxy shining.
In this ProPaintCorner.com guide, we cover:
- How to polish epoxy resin
- Supplies you'll need for polishing epoxy resin
- Helpful information on performing the perfect epoxy resin job
So, before you head back to epoxy resin polish job, read this tutorial for some extra tips on how to properly handle it.
What Do You Need To Know About How To Polish Epoxy Resin?
Polishing epoxy resin is similar to polishing a boat or car, but the procedure may differ depending on the size and type of your project.
There are a few different types of epoxies resins, including:
Epoxy adhesives are glue products found at virtually any grocery store or hardware store across the world. For the same cost as a beer, you can buy epoxy glue that will glue potentially anything if prepped, applied, and clamped correctly.
Polyester resin is used for anything from making boats and surfboards to models and art projects.
Epoxy is commonly used for resin casting and carbon fiber/fiberglass impregnation because of its extremely strong and durable nature.
Many high-tech things like airplanes and space ships incorporate epoxy-infused carbon fiber and fiberglass into their designs because of their light and strong nature. Skis and snowboards are also made from epoxy resin
What're The Supplies You’ll Need For Polishing Epoxy Resin?
Buffing wheel/Electric buffer
Use a buffing wheel to add polish and wax your project. Getting your hands on an electric buffer is easy--shop on Amazon, go to Walmart or visit your local auto parts store.
Remember, when using an electric buffer, there are two different types of attachments--a polishing attachment and a wax attachment. Be sure to use the correct polishing pad as a waxing pad won't make the abrasive contact needed. Remember, most polishing paste products have some type of pumice stone built into them, and waxing pads are too soft for the job.
We highly recommend a high-speed electric buffer. In other words, the cheap electric buffers that you can buy at Walmart for twenty bucks will do the trick, but if you want to effectively polish your epoxy project with a glossy finish, you'll buy a powerful variable speed electric buffer that reaches speeds of up to ~3200 RPM.
An orbital sander is effective at creating a smooth surface before the polishing process begins. We recommend using a pneumatic sander because it allows you to wet sand your project with fine-grit sandpaper for ultra-smooth results.
Purchase a polishing compound either off of Amazon or at your local auto parts store--we recommend something like Meguiar's polishing compound, but virtually any polishing compound will do the trick.
You'll need anything from 120-1000 grit sandpaper for sufficient sanding before polishing. Emphasis on the finer grit wet sanding--the more time you spend wet sanding your epoxy, the better it will look.
Most composites/epoxy professionals have a complete arsenal of sandpapers and sanding sponges to make the perfect touch on their project. For example, there might be a tight corner that needs to be hit with an angled sanding sponge where the power sander won't hit effectively.
Solvent/Acetone/Nail polisher remover
You'll need a solvent to remove unwanted resin from your project at some point.
Paint masker/Masking materials
You may want to consider masking off the rest of the room when sanding and polishing epoxy inside. You might want to consider buying a paint masker to help make the job easier.
Using a paint masker is easy, you simply attach masking film or paper to the paint masker along with painter's tape, and then you can roll them both out simultaneously to quickly cover any surface.
Microfiber cloth/Clean cloth
Wiping polish away from the surface with a clean and dry microfiber cloth after application is the key to a clean finish.
If you decide to mask off your work area (it's a good idea when sanding and polishing epoxy), then you'll need some painter's tape.
Microfiber cloth/Polishing pads
If you're using an electric buffer, you'll want to wipe off the excess polish with a dry microfiber cloth, and if you plan on applying the polish by hand you'll want to pick up some polishing cloths either off of Amazon or at your local auto parts store.
For industrial purposes, you might want to invest in a polishing machine that makes the job clean and easy. We can't tell you the exact machine you need because that's specific to your project, but we might recommend something like this Powertec VF600 heavy-duty bench polisher from Amazon.
Electric drill with a polishing attachment
You could also technically attach a polishing attachment to an electric drill for similar results, although we will say that using a high-speed electric buffer will give you the best results. You could also get a polishing ball/ball heads for your next project.
Don't forget silicone on your next construction project to seal in the edges of epoxy tables and fill gaps between epoxy and other surfaces.
You could potentially use a Dremel to polish the epoxy off of smaller projects. For example, say you used JBWeld epoxy to glue together a broken guitar neck--a Dremel would be a quick way to smoothen up the glued joint before polishing.
Don't forget safety protection
--> Safety glasses
Protect your eyes from harmful dust and sharp epoxy resin flakes.
--> Respirator/Cotton mask
Sanded epoxy poses a significant threat to your respiratory system.
--> Nitrile gloves/Chemical resistant gloves
Always protect your hands when working with epoxy resins. Although cured epoxy resin doesn't pose any threat, it will discolor your hands with direct contact.
How To Polish Epoxy Resin (5-Step Guide)
Step 1: Apply epoxy resin to your project
Before you can polish your epoxy resin project, you must first apply the resin. In this first step, we'll touch on some important points for performing the perfect epoxy job.
Many different things are made from epoxy resin and carbon fiber/fiberglass. For example:
Epoxy applications in the construction industry are countless. Epoxy is used for paint, flooring, paneling, piping--you name it. Epoxy paint lasts twice as long as regular paint when sealing concrete, so shop on Amazon if you're looking for an effective solution for your project.
Fiberglass and carbon fiber fabrics infused with epoxy resin are used in many different applications in the automotive industry. For example, professional body shops use fiberglass to make new body panels when a car gets damaged.
Many boats are made from fiberglass or carbon fiber as well. Epoxy is also used to repair boats when there is a hole.
Many aerospace parts are made from carbon fiber and fiberglass because of their lightweight and durable qualities. Everything from airplane and drone wings to fuselages is made from composite materials reinforced with epoxy resins.
Countless sports equipment utilizes epoxy resins to create products that are super lightweight and durable. Here is a quick list of examples of sports equipment made from carbon fiber/fiberglass:
- Tennis rackets
- Golf clubs
--> Arts and crafts
Search something like 'epoxy art projects' on Youtube and discover a whole world of possibilities that you might not have ever thought of. You can make the coolest artistic projects with resin art, something comparable to welding art.
The cool thing about resin art is that you can immerse objects into the resin. Check out pictures of resin jewelry for some awesome depictions. Artists immerse small objects into the resin to create floating versions of whatever they love.
Step 2: Let epoxy resin fully cure
Don't jump the gun--make sure your project has cured (dried) according to manufacturer specifications. The simplest way to know whether or not your epoxy is fully cured is by touch--is the epoxy glue still wet? If so, you'll need to wait until it dries. Another method for testing whether or not the epoxy is cured is a stress test.
For example, a ski maker might bend the epoxied skis to a certain spec to test whether or not the epoxy cured correctly--or they might even apply pressure with a bottle jack to see if the epoxy breaks.
Read Also: How To Fix Uneven Spray Paint (7-Step Guide)
Step 3: Sand the epoxy
Before you polish, it's necessary to sand the epoxy using the correct tool. If the epoxy is dry to the touch, then you can most likely start sanding it (depending on the project).
The way you sand your project depends on what the project is... for example, you might start off sanding an epoxy countertop job by using an abrasive sanding attachment to shave all of the epoxies drips off the bottom of the countertop (if you forgot to use packing tape) and then proceed to sand the surface of the resin.
Step 4: Wet sand
Wet sanding is an effective way to create a smooth finish on your epoxy project. You can wet sand your DIY project or another work piece with either a pneumatic sander or by hand.
Wet sanding epoxy resin will take your project to the next level of smooth although it's not completely necessary--it all depends on how much time you want to spend on making the project perfect.
Step 5: Apply the polish(with either buffer or polish pad)
When polishing, you don't want to move the electric buffer around too much. Focus on small areas, and look critically at how they change compared to the unbuffed area. Circular motions are always better, and try to accurately run the buffer down the edges of the project for the best results.
Of course, if you're polishing with a hand applicator, you're going to have to put some elbow grease into it as epoxy is rock hard.
The polish application is most often the last step in the process, and it's about as easy as waxing applying wax to a car or boat. Polish is a great scratch remover because most polish products have some type of pumice stone mixed in that makes it slightly abrasive like unto sandpaper.
Let's clarify, epoxy resin polishing shouldn't happen until you have the surface sanded to perfection--you should be able to run your hands across the surface and have it be smooth as a baby's bottom.
As far as applying the polish goes, there's not much you can mess up considering that cured epoxy is virtually as hard as a rock. We recommend using an electric buffer for the best results, but you'll do just fine with some polishing compounds and a polishing pad in a pinch.
If you're using an electric buffer, simply apply a few drops of a polishing compound onto the circular pad, and set the buffer onto the surface before turning on the buffer.
Other Valuable Resources on How To Polish Epoxy Resin
There is so much no learn about epoxy resins. Our best advice is to hop on Youtube and view as many different videos as possible specific to your project. For example, if you're making an epoxy-coated table, search 'how to epoxy tabletop', and you'll be sure to find many different videos to spark your interest.
Mistakes not to make when polishing
Be careful not to remove too much material when polishing epoxy. Sure, you want to apply a generous amount of epoxy onto the surface, but you should be extremely cautious about removing too much epoxy, even with a random orbit sander or polishing wheel.
Before polishing: how to apply epoxy?
Want to know how to apply epoxy? Here are some quick steps to give you a refresh:
Step 1: Research your specific project
You'll get the most out of your project by performing as many searches as possible concerning the subject. Youtube is an invaluable resource for successful DIY project completion, and you can also attain solid informational content by searching websites that start with .edu or .org.
In any case, do as much research as humanly possible if you want the job to turn out well.
Step 2: Prep the surface accordingly
Surface prep is the most important part of your epoxy project/resin piece. The smoother the project is sanded, the better the epoxy will adhere to the surface. Treat your epoxy jobs much like a paint job--you want to sand with something like 120-grit sandpaper to yield good results.
Step 3: Apply the epoxy according to the manufacturer's recommendations
The application process is the next most important part of the project. Reading the directions carefully when creating epoxy resin surfaces is vital. For example, if you mix too little or too much hardener into the batch, you could ruin the whole job.
Step 4: Sand and wet sand
Let your epoxy project fully cure, then you can sand it either by hand or with a power sander. Orbital or palm sanders are the best way to get super smooth results on your epoxy jobs.
Dry sanding is first. You can start with 120-grit and gradually move up to wet sanding with something like 600-2000-grit sandpapers.
There are cases where you might need a belt sander or an angle grinder with an abrasive attachment to do the job right.
Here's a tip: Use packing tape when applying the process on any surface where you want the epoxy to easily come off. For example, sometimes epoxy drips from the bottom of countertop jobs--just put a strip of packing tape around the bottom of the counter to prevent that.
Step 5: Polish and Wax/Paint
Polishing is the last step in the epoxy process, and we feel we've done a good job at teaching you how to polish your epoxy in this article. We hope your epoxy project goes as planned.
Don't forget to hit us with all of your epoxy, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and painting questions on our Pro Paint Corner page.