Updated: Jan 7
For people who are unsure about the differences between our various resins, here is a condensed list of the features of each resin. A handy & hopefully helpful guide showing the differences & similarities to help you know which resin might be most suited for your project.
All epoxy resins are fantastic, but it’s important to find the right features for you & your projects. Some have a lower/higher heat resistance, some don't cure as hard, some are more susceptible to scratches, etc. Also when price comparing, it's not always apples to apples, as you are not only paying for the specific amount of resin ordered, but the quality of the chemicals and the properties each type offers.
Epoxy resins are all often developed for certain types of applications and some can cross over in to other areas, just keep in mind they will perform best for the applications they are designed for. If you decide to use a resin in an application it is not developed for, you may end up disappointed in your results.
Also note, different features in resins will add to epoxy resin costs. For example, when looking at high heat needs (countertops, coasters, trays, etc), they are higher priced (due to higher priced chemicals used to achieve that feature). Many UV additives also increase costs of epoxy resins, so if you are always colouring your resin, all the more expensive UV additives may not be required, and a less expensive resin can be used on those projects. If you are using clear resin or a lot of white in your projects, you will want a resin with good UV preventative additives, and they do reflect in the overall costs. Regardless of marketing claims, please note all resins do eventually yellow, but some will last many decades with barely any yellowing, and some will yellow very quickly (environmental factors plus preparation can also play a role). If people overheat their resin during creations, this can cause premature yellowing as well. Resins that cure crystal clear with low to no bubbles also have expensive additives that are not used in the less expensive resins.
Some resins cure harder then others as well. While all epoxy resins do cure to a solid, they have different hardness ratings (look for their Shore D hardness rating). Wall art, and many mould casting projects (floral preservation, many decorative mould projects) often do not require the higher shore hardness resins (sometimes referred to as softer cure resins).
However some types of projects created in shallow moulds, that need support, such as wine caddies, cell phone holders, bookmarks, solid resin trays that are shallow, word moulds, etc, will require a harder curing resin (possibly along with a higher heat tolerance), so they don't go pliable and bendy (which some softer cure resins go bendy even long after 30 day cures) in use, and especially in warmer temperatures. Both the iCoat Countertop/Art (CT60 & CTMV) epoxies, and the iCoat TP21 & TP24 FC hard cast casting epoxies will not go bendy on these types of projects after full cure (two weeks).
Top-Coating Resins are often referred to as countertop or art resins or finishing epoxy resins. These can usually only be poured 1/8"-1/4" thick per layer. Note: Not all art type resins are hard cures, and not all counter resins are ideal for art. The softer cure art resins might be okay to be used on artwork, but you'll want a harder curing resin for counters, tables, trays, coasters, charcuterie boards, tumblers, etc. A harder cure resin can be used on artwork, but some resin art applications are fine with softer cures . Top-coating epoxies are usually a 1:1 ratio, and are often a medium to high viscosity, but some of the softer curing ones are low-medium viscosity. Thicker (medium to high) viscosity resins are great for doming. Top-coating resins have various cure times averaging from 12 - 24 hours depending on brand and volume used. Our two topcoating resins are iCoat CT60 Countertop Art Epoxy and CT Medium Visocity (MV) Countertop Art Epoxy.
NOTE: For Resin Art - If you are creating resin art using coloured resin, and wanting to achieve certain designs on wall art, such as lacing (like you see in ocean waves), cells or designs that hold their shape a bit, you should use a thicker (medium to high) viscosity top-coating resin. Thinner (low) viscosity resins tend to be so fluid, that their movement often causes artists lacing, cells or designs to flow and loose their shape they worked at achieving. Also, when making wall art such as the geode inspired pieces, a thicker viscosity resin will often be more suited to pouring the various sections you may desire. If you want a super fluid flowy look and not needing any design shapes to hold, then a thin (low) viscosity resin can be used for wall art. Sometimes if people have a thinner viscosity resin, they may let it sit a bit to thicken to desired consistency, but this is not ideal, as the risk of pre-mature exotherm increases as it sits (premature exotherm/ overheating plays a factor in pre-mature yellowing and possibly a brittle cure).
Most Casting Resins are best suited for items you would make in moulds, Casting resins work best if poured to manufacturer recommended depths. Sometimes it's a minimum of 1/4" up to roughly 2"-4" deep (per layer), check each brands recommendation for their maximum suggested depth, as they are not all the same. However note, this is also often dependent on numerous other factors (type of mould, mass, inclusions, etc.). There are a variety of viscosities in casting resins, typically low to medium. There are also softer and harder cure options in casting resins, plus different mix ratio options (1:1 and 2:1 and 3:1 ratios). Casting resins have various cure times averaging from 24-48 (and more) hours, depending on brand and project (volume, environment, mass etc).
Small objects like jewelry and baubles often work best with a resin such as iCoat TP21 hard cast (which can be cast in very shallow moulds 1/8" up to 2-3" per layer, depending on mould type & mass), or the iCoat TP24 FC (which is same features as the TP21, but a quicker cure, roughly 24 hours). Some artists do use their top-coating resins for jewelry as well, and in their shallow moulds (under 1/4"). Top-Coating resins tend to be medium to thicker viscosity, and can have potential to bubble more, so not always ideal for clear castings, unless you preheat the resin prior to mixing. If someone uses a resin in deeper layers than recommended, the resin can go in to pre-mature exotherm (some refer to as flash cure). This can cause pre-mature yellowing and brittle resin.
Floral preservation casting is often done in large blocks or thicker moulds to hold the size of the florals. Casting with florals/organics generally also requires pouring in shallower depths per layer, to get best results and not burn the florals. iCoat's most popular epoxy resin for floral preservation is the 1:1 ratio iCoat CE4100 HV casting resin.
Deep Pour Casting Resins can often be poured from 1.5" up to 3 to 4" per layer, and is more commonly used in river table type applications or deep moulds. Each brand is different, but note that the shallower the resin is poured, the longer it will take to cure. If pouring under the deep pour recommendations, you should look into a non deep pour epoxy resin for that layer. These deeper pour casting resins are usually very low viscosity, and not as hard curing. They often come in 2:1, 3:1 even 4:1 ratios (our iCoat Depth is a 2:1 ratio). Deep pour resins have various cure times averaging from 48 to 72 hours plus, depending on project (environment, volume, mass, etc.).
iCoat has two Countertop Art epoxy resins:
*** iCoat CT60 Countertop Art Epoxy Resin (high viscosity)
***iCoat CTMV Medium Viscosity Countertop Art Epoxy Resin,
They are basically the same product, but with different viscosities. The higher/thicker viscosity CT60, will cure slightly faster then the CTMV due to it being a higher viscosity . Both are top-coating resins that can be used for art, counters, trays, tables, coasters, wall art, tumblers, cheeseboards & more. These are our hardest curing epoxy resins. You can use either product for any top-coating needs, however for countertops and tables, it is recommended to use the regular countertop version (which is higher viscosity). The medium viscosity was created as an option for people who like to use the epoxy in projects requiring more manipulation and needing a thinner product to work with and better bubble release (then the higher viscosity version). The Medium Viscosity is ideal for wall art, small moulds such as jewellry, thin coasters, tumblers, a finish top coat and more.
iCoat has 4 Casting Epoxy Resins:
*** iCoat CE4100 HV Casting Resin, developed as a 1:1 ratio casting resin to be used in moulds from 1/4" up to approximately 1-2" layers per session (dependent on various factors). I have poured this resin in one pour in a small ring holder mould with no issues (no organics/florals were added). This is a medium viscosity, softer curing casting resin often used in floral casting, river tables, and a variety of casting projects. Two layers a day (such as in floral blocks) is possible with this resin (project dependent). Anytime you are working with florals, such as in floral blocks, it is recommended to only pour in roughly 1/2" layers (depending on mould size and mass). For the best results, this resin should be preheated in bottles up to 82F prior to mixing.
*** iCoat TP21 and iCoat TP24 FC Hard Cast Casting Resins, are both 2:1 ratio casting resins. It is often used for bubble free clear casts including jewelry items, and in shallow moulds that require harder cures, or other moulds up to approximately 2" layers per session (dependent on various factors).
The TP21 is a very low viscosity, harder curing casting resin. This is a slower cure, but great for bubble free casting, and any casting projects requiring a hard cure.
The TP24 Hard Cast Casting Resin, ***coming soon, is the same as iCoat TP21, but faster curing (roughly 24 hours), and is more of a low-medium viscosity resin. For more bubble free results, you will want to warm this resin up ahead of mixing.
*** iCoat Depth Deep Pour Casting Resin, is a 2:1 ratio deep pour resin developed for use in river tables, deep pour charcuterie boards, and moulds, minimum 3/4"-1" up to max of 4" depth, per layer (mould, mass, volume & temperature dependent).
All resins in all brands, start with similar basic chemical makeup, then each brand and type adds different additives and chemicals to give them their unique features for their usage (which also gives their pros & cons depending on your needs & preferences and how your work).
The resin names were shortened below to initials on this post as follows:
iCoat CT60 Counter top Regular (High Viscosity) = CT60
iCoat CTMV Counter top Medium Viscosity= CTMV
iCoat CE4100 HV Casting Epoxy = HV
iCoat TP21 Casting Epoxy (Hard Cast) = TP21
iCoat TP24 FCCasting Epoxy (Hard Cast) = TP24
iCoat Depth Casting Epoxy (Deep Pours) = DP
iCoat Fast Set Epoxy = FS
All iCoat countertop/art and casting resins have recently added the most up to date UV stabilizer technology available on the market.
FS is susceptible to ambering and does not have added UV stabilizers.
* Food Safety - FDA Compliant, FDA 21CFR175.300
All iCoat resins meet food safety standards, and have the same FDA rating as all the leading brands, which are ALL FDA Compliant.
All Epoxy Resins are Two Part (Part A Resin and a Part B Hardener). If it's a 1:1 ratio, and your project requires 6 oz total for example, then you would use 3 oz of Part A & 3 oz of Part B. If needing 6 oz using a 2:1 ratio, then you would use 4 oz Part A Resin, and 2 oz Part B Hardener. If the resin is a 2:1 ratio, (divide total needed by 3), then you would use two parts of the larger container (Part A Resin), and one part of the smaller container (Part B Hardener). . You can use our handy resin calculator(s) page to assist in determining amounts needed for various projects.
CT60 and CTMV 1:1 ratio (measure by volume)
HV 1:1 ratio (measure by volume). This resin has a 14% disparity. If you prefer to measure this by weight, measure your Part B first, then multiply that by 1.14 to get how much Part A you would need.
TP21 and TP24 2:1 ratio (measure by volume)
DP 2:1 ratio (measure by volume)
FS 1:1 ratio (measure by volume)
CT60 High viscosity (thick like molasses or a thick syrup)
CTMV Medium Viscosity (like a thin syrup)
HV Medium viscosity casting
TP21 Low viscosity casting (thin like water)
TP24 Low-Medium viscosity
DP Low viscosity deep casting (thin like water)
All our resins are NO VOC's.
* Odour Our resins are all considered low odour, and typically will not leave lingering odour (overheated resins & premature exotherm will effect odour). Heavy torching or using heat gun can strengthen any resin odour. Typically odours come from the hardeners, and once opened, exposed to oxygen and aged the odour can get stronger. If you are sensitive to odour, try to use your resin within 3 months of purchase, and be extra careful not to overheat.
CT60 and CTMV mild to no odour
HV mild to no odour
TP21/TP24 - no odour
DP no odour
FS strong odour
* 100% Solid Systems Epoxy
All the countertop/art and casting epoxy resins in our store are Solid Systems Epoxies
* Mix Time
All our resins should be mixed about 4 minutes, but check the cup to see if there are striations following your stir, and if so, continue to stir until they are gone. If it's mixed thoroughly sooner, you don't need to stir the full 4 minutes. While stirring, occasionally scrape around the sides of the cup, and across the full bottom, to incorporate any product that may be sitting on the edge. If it gets poured on to your piece that unmixed part can effect your results. When I am hand stirring larger batches like 64 ounces/1.9 litres or more in one cup, I sometimes find I need to stir for 8 minutes.
In some cases people like to recommend to switch to a new cup and stir a bit more, but we don't find that necessary. Some resin manufacturers recommend switching cups, especially if you struggle with your mixes not coming out thoroughly mixed.
* Work time (pot life/open time) This often changes depending on temperature (of environment & resin), additional heat (torch/heat gun etc used), and ratio of colourants added, and more importantly for top-coating resins, how long it sits in the cup. To increase your work time with top-coating resins, get it out of mix cups asap, and poured on to the surface as quickly as possible. Leaving resin sitting in mix cups will shorten work time & possibly cause pre-mature exotherm (flash cure). If you are pre-heating the resin, this also shortens work time.
Whereas with casting resins, it is sometimes (brand dependent) suggested to allow it to sit in mix cup for 3 - 5 minutes to de-gas, prior to pouring in moulds.
CT60 and CTMV both about 35-40 minutes
HV about 45-60 minutes
TP21 & TP24 about 60+ minutes
DP about 4+ hours
FS it sets fast so use asap
* Maximum/Minimum pour depths TopCoating resins self level about 1/8"d but typically should not be poured in moulds over 1/4"d. Casting resins max depth below are all based on a variety of elements from temperature, mass, volume and shape of mould. More enclosed moulds, as an example, sphere moulds will hold in more heat, so layers should be poured shallower. Also when casting with organics, it's better to pour shallower layers throughout project area where the flowers are.
CT60 and CTMV 1/8" up to maximum 1/4"d per layer
HV Min 1/2" up to Max about 1"-2"d, temp, volume, mass & mould dependent (typically florals should only be in 1/2" layers)
TP21 & TP24 1/8" up to Max about 2"d, temp, volume, mass & mould dependent
DP Minimum 1", up to a maximum of 3-4" deep, temp, volume, mass & mould dependent.
FS just meant for a quick cure adhesive type coat or primer coat
* Cure Times (Cure times vary greatly depending on environment, temperature and humidity, and for casting resins on mass, volume, and mould shapes used. The more resin the quicker it will cure. For deep pour casting resins, if too little resin depth is poured, it may not cure completely, or it may take a very extended time to cure. The warmer the room, the quicker the cure. If a room is colder then recommended, the resin may be unable to go through proper cure cycle resulting in improper cure). Also note if the the curing project(s) are exposed to temperature variances during cure cycle, it may effect the casting negatively. All epoxy resins continue to harden for up to 3 weeks after initial cure (at which time they also reach their maximum heat resistance).
CT60 and CTMV Cures to touch in about 12-24 hours (or overnight in warm room). Often can recoat in about 8 hours.
HV Cures to touch in about 8-24 hours (lower depths will take longer), but if pouring 1/2" depth for example in a 6"x6"x3" mould, you can do 2 coats per day typically (project dependent).
TP21 Cures to touch in about 48 hours (lower depths may take longer). TP will still be liquid gel like at 24 hour mark, but typically cured by 48 hour mark (project dependent).
TP24 - Cures to touch in about 24 hours (or overnight, lower depths may take longer). Can be demoulded and will continue to harden over next few days.
DP Cures to touch in about 48-72 hours to demould, lower depths will be on the longer side, deeper moulds will be faster. If poured at 2 1/2"d, will take about 30-48 hours to demould, volume, mass & temperature dependent. Thinner depths will need longer time to cure, and possible over 48-72 hours based on environment conditions, volume, mass etc.
FS Tacks in half hour (great for applying glitter, decals etc)
Note: All epoxy resins generally continue to harden for up to 3-4 weeks after initial cure, at which time they reach their full hardness rating & heat rating. iCoat epoxy resins are at 98% total hard cure at 14 day mark.
* Heat Resistance/Tolerance in Fahrenheit/Celsius, Unless specified otherwise, most heat resistant/tolerance ratings are NOT based on direct contact at that temperature. This means they can handle the item sitting in an extremely hot car for example, and it will remain in stable condition. Thinner items made with lower heat tolerances (below 200F/93C for example), will often go bendy in warmer temperatures.
CT60 and CTMV Scorch resistant up to 500F/260C
TP21 and TP24 250F-300F/121C-148C
* Shore D Hardness Scale Resins are scratch resistant, but no epoxy resins are scratch proof. The harder curing resins will not go pliable or bendy in heat (after full cures). The softer curing resins (if used in thinner mould applications), may go slightly pliable after full cure when exposed to higher temperatures, but will return to normal once exposed to normal temperatures again. iCoat epoxy resins are at 98% cured at 14 day mark, so these D ratings will be slightly higher at 3 week mark.
CT and CT/MV D85 at 14 days, (D80 at 7 days), remains hard, does not go pliable in hot weather.
HV D63 at 14 days, (D58 at 7 days), a bit more of a softer cure resin, if poured in too thin layers could go pliable/bendy in warmer temps, but returns to normal once out of heat.
TP21 and TP24 D78 at 14 days, (D74 at 7 days), cures hard, does not go pliable
DP D71 at 14 days, (D65 at 7 days), due to depths this is poured it will remain hard.
* Environment Temperature & Bubble Dispersion. To ensure best results in getting to know your epoxies in your area of the world, and your own work space environment, iCoat Products highly recommend you get used to using an infrared thermometer, every time you mix a batch of resin. Some people also like to have a hygrometer in the room, to measure and keep track of humidity in their work/curing space. If you live in a very humid climate, keeping an eye on humidity can help with reducing amine blush in the thinner casting resins (although the resins I currently have do not appear prone to amine blush). You want to ensure temperature of room is in correct range for type of resin. Some resin bottles (brand dependent, but more often the thicker medium-higher viscosity types), need warming in the bottles prior to mixing for best results. Aim an infrared thermometer down the neck of the open resin bottles to see if they are at an ideal temperature for using, and to see if you need to heat the bottles before pouring. Just because your room is warm, does not mean your resin is too. Guessing or thinking you know, often ends in undesired or less then best possible results.
*****If you want to have consistent best results with your resin projects, the infrared thermometer is the only way to take the guesswork out. Every time there is a weather change, there seems to be people who have struggles with something going different in their projects, that always worked before. Using the thermometer will assist in avoiding those potential issues. Each resin type and brand, will have different best use temperatures. Knowing the exact true temperature (not guessing) is how you get to know the resins and how to get your best results every single time.
Top-coating resins are typically thicker and bubbles will definitely be created during mixing. If it's colder resin or you are stirring fast, there will be more bubbles, however this is not typically an issue when using as a top-coating resin, since bubbles are torched out easily on most surfaces. If needing less bubbles because of using top-coating resin in a project in a mould, you will need to pre-warm your resin bottles, to reduce amount of bubbles in mixing process. This helps to avoid using torches on sensitive moulds. To protect moulds use a long neck barbecue lighter on small moulds, and keep flame away from mould & resin. Many people prefer to use (99% or 91%) isopropyl alcohol misting to remove bubbles, but that can cause tiny indents or issues on some resins if overused. Alcohol breaks down epoxy resins and dulls moulds, so be careful with how much, and ensure it's only a fine mist to reduce any potential issues.
CT60 and CTMV Use in a warm room 72-77F (23-25C), resin bottles if cool may need to be warmed prior to mixing. They should be at least as warm as room. But if using in moulds, you will need to heat bottles up to 82F/27.5C before mixing, to help reduce bubbles in moulds.
HV Use in a warm room 72-77F (23-25C), With this resin, always warm resin bottles to 82F/27.5C to help avoid microbubbles, and make it more viscous.
TP21 Is low viscosity, and has no bubbles unless they are introduced. Use in a warm room 72-77F (23-25C). Only warm bottles up if they are cold (such as 60F/15.5C range), but best results will be from this resin being about room temperature to start.
TP24 similar to TP21, Info coming soon
DP Is low viscosity, and has no bubbles unless they are introduced. Use in a warm room 72-77F (23-25C). Much like the iCoat TP, this resin does not need to be pre-heated prior to mixing, it will not get any more viscous, just be sure the room is a good steady temperature throughout cure, and the resin is not cold.
FS - n/a
* Gloss Finish
All iCoat epoxy resins have a super high gloss finish.
* Shelf Life
All our resins have a standard shelf life of 12 months unopened, and 6 months once opened. Ideally try to use up resins within 3 months of opening. Also, try not to purchase more then you plan to use within a 6 month period.
For more detailed information about each of these resins, see the information tabs related to the product.
ArtWorks Resin Canada